A new study will look at the role of faith groups in supporting local councils respond to the pandemic, including food banks and other services.
The study is being undertaken by researchers from Goldsmiths, University of London, who are examining the changing relationship between faith groups and local councils during the recent pandemic.
The research team claims that many local authorities have already turned to churches, mosques and other groups to help provide things like food for those in need.
The project is being supported by a number of charities, including The Trussell Trust which aims to end the need for food banks in the UK. The news comes off the back of a report by the charity earlier in the summer, which found that demand for food banks tripled at the start of the pandemic when the economic impact was first felt.
The team is being led by Professor Adam Dinham and Professor Chris Baker, who plan to undertake a major survey of all local authority leaders, who will also be interviewed alongside faith group representatives. A report on the findings and recommendations will be published later this year.
Professor Chris Baker, Director of the Faith and Civil Society Unit at Goldsmiths, said:
It is likely that our society will look very different in the future and faith groups will have a critical role which is why this piece of research is so important.
We hope to provide a set of recommendations that will inform the development of new collaborations – whilst enhancing the effectiveness of existing ones – reflecting the importance of these relationships in the months and years to come.
The study has also received the backing of MPs via the All-Party Group for Faith and Society which is normally based in Westminster. Its Chair Stephen Timms MP, said:
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.
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