Places of worship vital for pandemic recovery says university study

May 20, 2021 by

by Donna Birrell, Premier:

Churches and other places of worship are not just for the faithful but can play a vital role in our recovery from the pandemic, according to new research from the University of York.

More than 5,500 people, made up of non-church members, congregations and church leaders, took part in the survey between August 2020 and March this year. It looked at the human cost of the pandemic when places of worship were closed and unable to play their usual role as crisis centres and places of comfort.

Dr Dee Dyas who led the research team, told Premier that a striking aspect of the findings was how strongly non-church members had been affected by the closure of church buildings and activities:

“I think many people who don’t normally go to church hadn’t realised what churches meant to them until it was all taken away in a moment. And that goes from young mums desperate for contact with others, right through to older people who not only want social care, but also want to be able to go on volunteering because that’s a lot of who they are. And all of that is something that churches offer.”

Praising churches for “stepping up amazingly” since the pandemic began, Dr Dyas, said as we look forward to recovery it is vital to reinstate those activities and also increase them because the need is now greater :

“The isolation, the unprecedented pressure on people’s mental health, insecurity that people right across society have been feeling about their lives, they didn’t realise things could change so quickly and there’s so much grief that hasn’t really been dealt with.”

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