Stephen has spoken at the launch of a new Demos report, Holy Alliances: Church-secular partnerships for social good.
The report found that more churches are partnering with non-faith voluntary organisations to tackle local issues such as poverty, mental health and loneliness. It is based on a survey of 120 church leaders, 10 expert interviews and 12 case study interviews, and reveals that churches are almost four times as likely to partner with non-faith voluntary organisations (23%) than businesses (6%) to tackle these challenges.
The report calls for local authorities to seek to address any practical barriers to partnership working between churches and non-Christian groups, such as making funding for social action projects more accessible to churches. It also makes a number of other recommendations, including the discouragement of blanket policies against working with faith groups, and for local authorities to introduce the Faith Covenant, which is administered by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Faith and Society, which Stephen chairs.
Speaking at the event: “There has been a marked increase in social action by churches in the last ten years. At the same time, many of them are working with non-Christian organisations to tackle social issues.
“Churches - and many other faith groups too - are making a remarkable social impact. In many neighbourhoods, where many institutions have pulled out, the Church is sometimes the only one left. In those situations, it represents hope.”
The report can be read here.