Shaping debate on religion in public life.

New Research Project on Local Authorities and Faith Groups responding to Coronavirus

24 Jul 2020

The William Temple Foundation is pleased to be assisting the Faiths & Civil Society Unit at Goldsmiths, University of London in a new project for the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Faith and Society, charting the changing relationships between local authorities and faith groups in responding to the impacts of coronavirus.

During the coronavirus pandemic, local authorities seem to have turned to—and indeed relied upon—churches and faith groups in new ways. In some cases, this builds upon pre-existing relationships. In others it perhaps reflects a new openness to collaboration, in contrast to previous hesitance to work with faith groups.

The study will be led by Professors Adam Dinham and Chris Baker of Goldsmiths, University of London. Through a large-scale survey of local authority leaders, together with interviews with local authority and faith group representatives, the research will explore the extent and nature of new relationships between local authorities and faith groups. In addition, it will investigate how and why these relationships have come about, how they have worked in practice, and what their implications might be for local authorities, communities, and faith groups themselves.

William Temple Scholars Val Barron and Matthew Barber who are conducting qualitative interviews for the project, whilst Associate Research Fellow Greg Smith is helping to design the survey and analyse the data. The final report will be published in October and will recommend ways in which local authorities and faith-based organisations can continue to work together effectively in the future.

Stephen Timms MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Faith and Society, said:

“Faith groups have a key role at the heart of communities up and down the country, and the pandemic seems to be highlighting just how significant a contribution they make to our society. Many Councils have turned to churches, and to other faith groups, to help, particularly to provide food to people who would otherwise go without. The anecdotal evidence suggests these partnerships have suddenly become very widespread and are playing a crucial role in getting vital help to families. This report will shine a light on them.”

The research is being made possible by funding from the Sir Halley Stewart Trust, and the project is being supported by the Trussell Trust and the Good Faith Partnership.

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