First Faith Audit for Wales

The major contribution made by thousands of faith communities to Welsh society is to be quantified in the nation's first faith audit.

The audit, "Counting for our communities," will survey the voluntary work carried out by faith communities for the benefit of people outside their congregations, assessing the economic value of this work.

It will also look at the use made of their buildings, the aspirations of faith communities in this regard and the contacts they already have with Government.

The project, which aims to report back at the end of the year, is led by Evangelical Alliance Wales initiative Gweini - the Council of the Christian Voluntary Sector in Wales - in partnership with the Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA), and is backed by the Welsh Assembly.

John Evans, Project Manager, said: "Faith communities provide many important services which governments have difficulty in offering - promoting social inclusion, reaching out to people on the margins of society and building up young people to become leaders of their communities.

"These communities already make a major contribution to Welsh civil society, but this is very poorly documented and tends to be undervalued, with policy development being hampered as a result.

"Better documentation should not only reveal more of the true value of this work, but also encourage its growth."

He added that a similar study in the North West of England estimated the annual contribution of faith communities as well over £90m.

Wales' First Minister Rhodri Morgan said: "I warmly welcome the groundbreaking research into the contribution made by faith communities to Welsh civil society.

"The Welsh Assembly Government has long recognised the great contribution made to life in Wales by all the faith communities. We value that contribution enormously and work closely with the all the faith communities in Wales through the Faith Communities Forum, which we established in the wake of 9/11.

"I fully expect this research to support the work of the Faith Communities Forum in fostering a better understanding and awareness of faiths and cultures in Wales."

There are around 5,000 faith communities in Wales. All faith leaders - including Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Christian and other faith groups - are being approached to build up the sample frame for the project.

Questions cover a range of topics including what activities are facilitated by the congregations, how they work with their local community and how many volunteers from the congregation are involved in running community projects.

The study of faith communities in the North West of England is called Faith in England's Northwest: Economic Impact Assessment, and can be found at