One in three church leaders say they want to step down from their roles within the next two years due to job-related stress, according to a new survey.
Commissioned by trade union Unite, exhibitors at next week’s CRE Midlands, the survey reveals that three out of four of those surveyed regularly work beyond their contracted hours. They also face challenging situations, such as providing support to individuals suffering from acute mental illness.
Highlights of the survey of nearly 1,000 faith workers, who are members of Unite, include: 23 per cent struggling to pay bills, seven per cent missing meals and 21 per cent relying on friends and family for support.
Unite is calling on religious organisations to increase pay and reduce workloads. It is also urging them to implement their existing wellbeing policies and assess the adequacy of support systems for clergy. The survey indicates that if religious bodies do not take prompt action, they may face difficulties in filling vacant positions.
Rev Nicky Skipworth, who will be on the Unite stand at CRE Midlands, said: ‘Being truly in the corner of faith workers means not only supporting individual members when things go wrong at work but creating opportunities to speak up for them before that point. By doing so, we gather vital, real-world information which might not otherwise reach those who have the power to effect change in our faith organisation.’
The recent survey was completed by people who are lay, ordained, full time, part time, employed and office holder.
‘It shows not just the true diversity of faith workers, but the actual impact of stipends and salary levels which have made faith workers vulnerable, while they look after some of the most vulnerable people in their community,’ said Nicky. ‘We invite all CRE visitors to come for a chat and find out the concrete ways we can support you and your colleagues.’
• Unite, the Faith Workers’ Branch, is on stand DS3 at CRE Midlands
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