To ask the hon. Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, what assessment the Commissioners have made of the effect of churches on community health and wellbeing through their provision of food banks, youth services, mental health services, addiction support services and other community services during the covid-19 outbreak and associated lockdowns.
The parish church is a key source of community support and I commend the work of clergy and volunteers across the country during this very challenging time.
Recent research published by Theos and the Church Urban Fund https://www.theosthinktank.co.uk/cmsfiles/GRACE-CUF-v10-combined.pdf and separately by the National Churches Trust https://www.houseofgood.nationalchurchestrust.org/ has shown the substantial social and economic contribution parishes, and cathedrals make to their local communities.
Across the dioceses of the Church of England churches are operating 35,000 based projects which serve the needs of their communities, I am pleased to say that many of these have continued to operate during the pandemic within the guidelines set out by Government on Covid-19, providing crisis support such as foodbanks, bereavement counselling, night shelters, debt relief advice, as well as project work to combat modern slavery and support victim of domestic abuse.