Faith Groups £100m Economic Impact

By Reporter, The HighLand Times, Tuesday September 12 2017

Voluntary work from Scottish faith groups ‘produces almost £100m of economic impact’ each year.

Volunteers from Scotland’s church organisations and faith groups are giving almost £100m worth of time and resources each year to help social action projects across the nation, MSPs at the Scottish Parliament will hear tonight (12 September).

Drawing on research published last year by the Cinnamon Network – which also revealed that nearly three-quarters of Scotland’s churches have projects that meet local social needs – Kate Forbes MSP is expected to commend their efforts as she opens the member’s debate in the Holyrood chamber.

Her parliamentary motion, which pays tribute to the Serve Scotland coalition, has been backed by a total of 32 cross-party MSPs.

Kate Forbes, MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, said:

“Across Scotland, there are individuals who prioritise somebody else’s wellbeing and comfort over their own, as they volunteer with faith-based organisations.

“Serve Scotland is a network of organisations whose aims range from feeding hungry families, to providing night shelters.

“Many of these organisations are well-known, like Blythswood Care, Trussell Trust Foodbanks and Bethany Christian Trust.

“All of them exist because of the selfless care, time and energy of volunteers up and down the country.

“They follow in the footsteps of people who have been a voice for the voiceless and advocates for the marginalised, as churches continue to work across Scotland to relieve poverty, house the homeless, support those with addictions and feed the hungry.”

Fred Drummond, Chair of Serve Scotland, added:

“The debate and exhibition at Holyrood this week is a wonderful chance to celebrate what churches are doing every day of the week in every corner of Scotland.

“Our own initial survey work has uncovered over 250 local projects in every Scottish constituency.

“We know this is just scratching the surface with work by the Cinnamon Network indicating that there are an estimated 9,000 community projects in Scotland contributing over 11 million hours of service to local communities with an economic impact of almost £100 million annually.

“This work includes numerous projects supporting those who find themselves marginalised in society including running food banks, debt advice, night shelters, refugee support, addiction recovery, prison rehabilitation and services for younger and older people in local communities.

“In an age of ongoing public-sector funding challenges, it’s clear that this work is more needed than ever.”

Mr Drummond continued:

“It’s time to celebrate those who selflessly give of their time to love and serve their neighbour.

“And it is fitting that this hidden army of community heroes should get the recognition they deserve in our national parliament this week.

“Christians are motivated by their faith in Jesus to do this good work and it’s clear Scotland would be far the poorer place without it.”

The debate is expected to begin shortly after today’s earlier decision time of 4.50pm, and can be followed live via the Scottish Parliament and BBC Scotland’s Holyrood Live pages.



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