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Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
UK News

Churches unite with secular groups to boost social action

A study by think tank Demos reveals churches are almost four times as likely to partner with non-faith organisations, such as charities, than with businesses, to tackle issues such as poverty, mental health and loneliness.

The Holy Alliances report shows that these partnerships improve resources, funding and help to amplify the work of local churches.

Senior Researcher and co-author of the report Sacha Hilhorst told Premier some of the ways churches can work with secular groups.

"Churches can partner with a local charity to provide shelter for sleepers. It can be a local business donating to the church food bank or it could be the church working with schools to provide after school facilities."

Hilhorst said these charities offer additional benefits to the financial support a business might provide a church.

"For example, local charities do vetting for churches - a church hosting rough sleepers can't deal with the people who have the most complex needs, so they need a charity to make sure that the right people are coming to the church, but equally that it's a safe environment for the church volunteers," Hilhorst said.

Whilst the report highlights a number of positive outcomes from church-secular partnerships, concerns have been raised over the conflicting motivations and worldviews organisations may hold.

Hilhorst said: "We did hear from church volunteers who said 'I wish that the secular partners would be more willing to acknowledge why we do this work. Because yes, we want to do charity but we want to do it for a religious reason', and it's important to get that acknowledged."

Ms Hilhorst says the UK has a range of 'broker' organisations that provide 'off the shelf models' to help churches with effective partnerships.

The report hopes to display the positive aspects of partnering with secular organisations and encourage more churches to take part in social action within their communities.

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