Claire Walker, CEO of the National Churches Trust, delivered a presentation of our research to heritage leaders from across Europe last week, at the biennial Future for Religious Heritage conference.
The 2023 edition saw organisations gather in Lund, Sweden to discuss the state of affairs in religious heritage around the continent. The theme of the conference was sustainability, with events covering the sub-themes of economic, ecological, social and cultural sustainability.
As part of this, delegates from the worlds of heritage, policy and academia heard about the work of the National Churches Trust in a presentation focussed on the sub-theme of Economic Sustainability. Our work has demonstrated the social and economic value of churches in the UK, measuring the value of wellbeing that they provide to local and wider communities.
The research, first published in The House of Good and its 2021 update, calculates that church buildings generate £55 Billion annually in social and economic value, a figure based on six key stages. Notable among these stages is the £43 Billion that would be required as a replacement cost of the community services, including food banks and mental health support, that churches all over the nation provide.
The heritage and church sectors have traditionally struggled to cheerlead the financial benefits that they provide and have suffered from a lack of consistent funding as a result. By reporting evidence-based value, our work will enable funding agencies to understand tangibly the impact of supporting churches and justify decisions that are made.