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13 September 2017

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

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

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

MSPs in Scottish parliament commended faith groups contributing almost £100m in time and resources to social projects.

An estimated 9,000 faith-based groups in Scotland are contributing over 11 million hours of service to local communities.

Fred Drummond, Scotland director at the Evangelical Alliance and chair of Serve Scotland, said: "It's time to celebrate those who selflessly give of their time to love and serve their neighbour. It is fitting that this hidden army of community heroes should get the recognition they deserve in our national parliament this week.

Kate Forbes MSP commended the Serve Scotland coalition on their efforts as she opened the member's debate in the Holyrood chamber.

Her parliamentary motion was backed by a total of 32 cross-party MSPs, with 30 MSPs attending the hour-long debate.

Kate Forbes MSP said: "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."

Almost three-quarters of Scotland's churches have projects that meet local social needs. Serve Scotland has uncovered more than 250 local projects in every Scottish constituency working to support 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.

Ends.

Notes to news desks:

For more information from Serve Scotland contact Kieran Turner, public policy officer at Evangelical Alliance Scotland on k.turner@eauk.org or 0141 353 0150 or 07825 214 874.

For more information from Kate Forbes MSP contact Gordon Bell, communications manager for Kate Forbes MSP, on Gordon.bell@parliament.scot or 01349 863 888 or 07468 716 703

The parliamentary motion reads: That the Parliament welcomes the establishment of the Serve Scotland coalition of church-based community groups; recognises the positive work undertaken by these groups, providing services such as foodbanks, debt advice, night shelters and refugee support work in communities across Scotland, including in Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch; pays tribute to the many thousands of volunteers who provide these services, and believes that such community work undertaken by churches and other faith groups is a mark of a healthy civil society and is to be welcomed as part of a modern, plural Scotland.

Page four of the 2016 Cinnamon Faith Action Network Audit reads: "In Scotland we counted 852 projects, 119,345 beneficiary interactions in 12 months, 7,035 volunteer roles and over £8 million of financial value being provided by faith groups in the nation. This shows that at a time when budget cuts, changes to benefits and rising housing costs are affecting many communities across the country, there are groups of committed and faith-driven individuals who are stepping into the gap. The Cinnamon Faith Action Audit has found that across Scotland they give more than £93 million worth of time and resources annually to support those most in need through social action projects."

The £93m figure is calculated from 9,028 social action projects, support for 1,264,594 beneficiary interactions, 4,535 paid staff activities, 74,544 volunteer roles, 2,212,491 paid staff hours and 9,012,457 volunteer hours. The report describes this figure as paid staff hours, plus volunteer hours calculated using the then living wage of £7.85, plus management. If applying the current Scottish Living Wage of £8.45, it is thought this figure would exceed £100m.

The Serve Scotland coalition brings together some of Scotland's best known Christian community organisations such as Bethany Christian Trust, Glasgow City Mission, Blythswood Care, Home for Good, Safe Families for Children and Care for Scotland who have joined the Evangelical Alliance in setting up umbrella group to bring together the Christian voluntary sector in Scotland at both a local and national level.

Visit their website here: www.servescotland.org

13 September 2017