Launching the report, Culture Secretary Andy Burnham said: "Places of worship are at the heart of neighbourhoods. They are the local landmarks by which we navigate and they often represent the best of our heritage. At the same time, both the buildings and the people that frequent them, are so often active in enhancing the lives of many people, offering services to meet the needs of the local community.
"This excellent paper brings together two important things – the bricks and mortar of much-loved buildings, and the benefits they bring as resources for the wider community. Put them together and we are helping these buildings to stand up to the challenges of the future."
Sadiq Khan, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Community Cohesion in the Department for Communities and Local Government, said: "I welcome the faith buildings paper – it will give faith groups support to develop their buildings for wider public use, and offer them and other community groups increased opportunities to come together in shared public spaces.
"Faith buildings of all kinds are a really important local resource and should be made the most of, which is why the guidance will identify a range of funding and other resources available to faith groups to enable them to improve and modify their buildings for wider community use and for a range of different purposes.
"I know the information in the guidance will be useful and I am sure we will see an increase in the number of faith buildings being used to bring people together, forming strong community links and helping to deliver the services local people need."
Across the country, faith groups are looking at what more their buildings can bring to local communities. Faith buildings are more likely to be better maintained and adapted for community use when they are well used. At the same time, faith groups are ideally placed in every community to provide facilities, services and a positive and stable presence.
The paper confirms the position of faith groups as significant contributors to society as part of the third sector. It proposes a range of actions to help faith groups engage effectively in local and regional agendas, it outlines some resources that might help to make faith buildings more user-friendly as part of wider community activities, and it proposes ways in which providers of funding and policy makers might better understand what faith groups bring to community.
Have your say on this story using the comment section below