The life of evangelical churches and their spiritual leaders has been portrayed in some recent films and series. Can they help us start conversations?
“Not only are low-cost, but they offer holistic health care for all individuals, and more importantly, they create community”, a study about the church’s impact on health and care says.
The Cinnamon Network, a charity that connects faith-based organisations, has published a study about the church’s impact on health and care.
The aim of the research was to determine “what impact do church communities currently have on health and social care and what potential is there for them to be scalable and replicable, in order to have more impact”.
The research studied 32 church-led initiatives and identified how they tackle issues regarding obesity and diabetes, lonelines and ssocial isolation, mental health, dementia and accident and emergency.
NHS SAVES £3 BILLION ANNUALLY
They found that more than 3,500 churches and 200,000 volunteers were making a significant contribution to the overstretched health service.
According to the study, the time given by UK church and faith groups to their communities, is saving the national Health Service (NHS) more than £3 billion every year.
Sarah Mullally, the new Bishop of London, pointed out that the research is “an important contribution to understanding how the voluntary sector and specifically the church and faith-based projects can promote health and create community and belonging”.
"The NHS is under considerable pressure; increasing public expectation, increasing life expectancy, improvements in technology and limited resources. If we are able to improve our health and the health of the community, the church can contribute to the better use of those limited resources”, she said.
“HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONALS ARE GLAD THAT THE CHURCH IS STEPPING UP”
According to David Simmons, who conducted the research, “the potential is enormous and the work of these projects enables doctors and nurses to focus on their job. Most healthcare professionals I spoke to during the research were really glad that church groups are really stepping up”.
“Now we have evidence to show actually, active churches help reduce obesity, help prevent loneliness, and address mental health issues and dementia and many other aspects of just normal life for normal people”, Matt Bird, founder of the Cinnamon Network told British media Premier.
PARTNERSHIP WITH THE VOLUNTARY SECTOR
The study also gives recommendations to the NHS “now that the United Kingdom faces an uncertain future with a minority government at the time of writing, the unknown effects of Brexit and the continuing programme of austerity causing a significant constriction of services at local government and NHS level”.
“It is precisely at such a time when the voluntary sector can come into its own, particularly faith-based”, the research points out.
Churches and faith groups, “not only are low-cost, but they offer holistic health care for all individuals at a time of constrained budgets, and more importantly, they create community and belonging at a time when isolation and loneliness is at an all-time high”, the study concludes.