Call for party leaders to acknowledge work of Christian voluntary sector

Rev Steve Chalke

Rev Steve Chalke

Ahead of this Thursday's third and last party political leadership debate on the economy,  Rev Steve Chalke, founder of Faithworks, the second biggest sponsor of the present government's Academy programme, claims that if the incoming Prime Minister did more to acknowledge the Christian sector's indispensible contribution to the economy it would be a vote of confidence that would bring further benefit to local communities across the UK for generations to come.

"The Christian contribution to society is hugely significant,"  he said. "Local churches contribute millions to regional economies across the country and if Westminster more openly acknowledged this, the encouragement it would bring to the unsung army of volunteers and paid staff in churches and other Christian groups would release a tsunami of care which would help compensate for the inevitable forthcoming public spending cuts.

"The church, with its history of public service, valuable local knowledge and motivated voluntary workforce in every village, town and city is best placed to fill the ever growing gaps in service provision. Put bluntly, you get far more bang for your buck from the Church. Our political leaders seem fixated on the issue of which way the church will vote - the far more import issue for the nation is about what they will do to engage with churches across the country to deliver an even higher level of public service. For the church, faith and democracy are primarily about volunteering rather than voting."

Based on conservative estimates, Christian denominations contribute an estimated £486 million per year in economic value to England alone, with more than 369, 000 volunteers working approximately 65 million volunteer hours per year.

Youth clubs, support for the sick, elderly and bereaved, parent-toddler groups, soup kitchens and literacy classes are typical of the services churches provide.

Reflecting on this significant contribution across all nine English regions, Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg in recent interviews with Steve Chalke all spoke of a commitment to work increasingly alongside faith groups in the delivery of vital public services. These interviews can be viewed online at:

Faithworks began as a campaign by the Oasis Trust in the run-up to the 2001 General Election, which challenged the incoming government to recognise the vital contribution that churches and Christian projects were making to local communities, and to end discrimination against them in areas such as funding and partnership. Since then it has grown to a national movement with more than 20,000 members and affiliates. For more information see:

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