Churches play an important role in tackling domestic abuse in their communities.
from an article 15 December 2009
Evangelical Alliance finds that Churches donate £6.5 million pounds every year towards tackling domestic abuse, as well as counselling 71,000 victims and providing up to 370,000 nights of accommodation, a survey has indicated .
The Evangelical Alliance, which surveyed 230 of its member churches on domestic abuse, found that 81% of churches feel they have a responsibility to address the issue in their communities.
Steve Clifford, General Director of the Evangelical Alliance, said: "Domestic abuse is a huge problem in this country, but it is an issue churches often find difficult to tackle. We are encouraged that so many churches are seeking to respond in practical ways and we hope that more will be motivated to engage further.
The survey found 30% of churches give an average of £540 a year to charities supporting victims of domestic abuse, while 43% of churches also donate gifts such as food, toys and clothing to refuges. If these figures are typical of churches in the UK, including an adjustment for church size, then the UK church provides £6.5 million to domestic abuse charities and organisations a year.
More than half of churches (55%) are providing counselling to victims of domestic abuse - to a projected total of around 71,000 people per year in the whole of the UK. Twenty-two percent of churches have also counselled perpetrators of domestic abuse.
Sixteen percent of churches have provided on average 290 nights’ accommodation each year to victims. Again, if this is typical of UK churches, we can estimate that churches provide approximately 370,000 nights' accommodation per year to those suffering domestic abuse.
Both church goers and non-church goers recognise that the church can be a source of support, with almost a third of churches seeing people who were not members of the congregation asking for help.
The problem of domestic abuse was widely recognised, with 58% of churches saying they could be doing more to respond. Only 5% felt they were doing enough already. Problems hindering churches doing more included a lack of volunteers (71%), lack of knowledge about how to help (58%) and lack of finances (32%). Forty-one percent felt the issue of domestic abuse needed to be talked about more in their church.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, churches with women in overall leadership were more likely, than male led congregations, to donate money (29% v 50%), send volunteers to help (12% v 14%), donate gifts (41% v 52%), provide counselling to victims (56% v 73%), provide mentoring to perpetrators (22% v 41%), provide accommodation (15% v 23%), refer victims to other support agencies (33% v 59%).
Most interesting was that female-led churches also seemed to make it easier for people to come forward asking for help, especially among members of the congregation. In almost half (47%) of female led congregations someone in the church had asked for help, where the figure was 34% among male-led congregations.