Since the publication of the report Faith in the City by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Commission on Urban Priority Areas in 1985, the relationship between religion and local economic well-being has been a matter of intense political interest and argument. This continues to the present day, with the coalition’s ‘localism agenda’ again placing the spotlight on the impact religious organisations have on prosperity and happiness in their surrounding communities.
In this series, Public Spirit hosts a collection of articles on the theme of ‘faith and local economic development’. It looks at the subject from a range of perspectives, examining the notion of ‘asset-based community development’, the concept of ‘progressive localism’ and the economic value and impact of faith-based organisations.
In the first article, Spiritual capital and progressive localism, Chris Baker (University of Chester) discusses the notion of ‘spiritual capital’, the motivating force that drives religious and secular community organisations to transform deprived communities.
In the second, Faith-based organisations and local economic impact, Daniel Singleton (FaithAction) asks why there seems such reluctance to research and analyse systematically what faith-based organisations contribute to local economic growth and development.
Finally, drawing on her recent report, Bethany Eckley (Church Urban Fund) explains in Tackling poverty in England: an asset-based approach, why helping communities make use of their assets is a more useful activity than trying to simply meet their needs.
Alongside these articles, Public Spirit features an introduction to two new research projects: Emma Tomalin and Claire Starkey‘s English Heritage-funded research into ‘Building Buddhism in England‘, and Aleksandra Lewicki, Therese O’Toole and Tariq Modood‘s new report on Building the Bridge: Muslim community engagement in Bristol.