UK mosque survey highlights community role

Charity Commission publishes first detailed mosque survey The Charity Commission has published the first detailed survey of mosques in England and Wales, which shows that mosques contribute to their local communities through a wide range of services and activities in addition to providing space for worship, from sport and leisure activities to healthy living programmes and assistance for senior citizens. The independent regulator of charities in England and Wales commissioned the new survey as one part of its wider work with faith-based charities. Around 1 in 5 of the 190,000 charities on the Register of Charities either advance religion, which is a charitable purpose, or have a faith-based motivation. Many mosques are already registered charities. The independent survey was prepared by BMG Research and commissioned by the regulator's Faith and Social Cohesion Unit (FSCU) to provide key information on mosques which has not been gathered before. The report provides a better understanding of the range of organisations that exist, and shows that mosques which have engaged with the Charity Commission are more likely to have proper policies in place. 34% (255) of mosques contacted responded to the telephone survey. The findings show that most mosques are well-established, with 83% of those surveyed being set up for over ten years. The average number of attendees at Friday prayer meetings is over 400, rising to over 600 for Eid, and on average, the mosques surveyed reported that their estimated annual income is £233,452. Other key findings of the survey of 255 mosques across England and Wales Þ The mosques that responded offer a wide range of services and activities for the local community Respondents to the survey said: § Almost all (94%) deliver educational programmes for children and young people; § Eight out of ten (82%) carry out fundraising for the relief of poverty and hardship; § Three in five (61%) carry out women's groups / activities; § Almost half (47%) deliver sports and leisure activities; § Almost one third (31%) deliver health / healthy living activities; and § Nearly one in three (31%) deliver activities for senior citizens. The Charity Commission is a source of advice for mosques Respondents to the survey said: § Organisations that have had contact with the Charity Commission are more likely to have Child Protection policies, CRB checks and building insurance in place; § Close to half (49%) report that they would go to Charity Commission staff for advice and support; § Around two thirds (67%) report having had contact with the Charity Commission; and § Amongst those who have had contact with the Charity Commission, the rating of this contact is generally positive, with very few reporting any aspect of it as poor. The survey also shows that on average, mosques have 11 people on their trustee board or equivalent. In terms of the number of people in the mosques who are trustees, management committee members or equivalent, young people are well-represented, with over 52% of mosques having people aged between 18-30 with management responsibility and 15% of mosques having women with management responsibility. Dame Suzi Leather, Chair of the Charity Commission, said: "This new research reveals the important contribution that mosques are making to communities across England and Wales. I'm really interested to see the wide range of services that mosques provide, from healthy living activities to legal advice services and from fundraising for those in financial hardship to sport and leisure. The Charity Commission has an essential part to play in supporting all faith-based charities so that they can maximise the contribution they make to society. I would remind those mosques that are not already registered of both the requirement for them to do so, as with any charity, but also of the benefits of being registered, including reputational benefits, receiving tax breaks, and free specialist advice and guidance from the Commission." Seyyed Ferjani,Current Chair of the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board (MINAB)* said: "We welcome this research commissioned by the Charity Commission, which is a really useful starting point on which we can build. I hope it will also be a useful resource for Muslim communities throughout England and Wales. The helpful advice and information provided by the Faith and Social Cohesion Unit is clearly of benefit to those mosques which responded to the survey. " Ghulam Rasool, Head of the Charity Commission's Faith and Social Cohesion Unit (FSCU), said: "It's great to find that in general, mosques that have had engagement with the Commission rate this contact as positive. This research provides a useful insight into Muslim communities, and whilst we believe it is the widest survey of its kind carried out to date, it has also identified a number of areas for further research and exploration. I would encourage any mosques with questions about charity registration and governance to visit our website for advice and guidance." Over the first year of its work, FSCU has hosted events and consultations as well as embarked on an extensive outreach programme, and by collaborating with 30 organisations has run nearly 100 events and nearly 300 face-to-face visits to mosques since May 2008. For more information on the FSCU or to access the Unit's most recent newsletter, go to: http://www.charitycommission.gov.uk/tcc/faithsc.asp. The full report is available online at: www.charitycommission.gov.uk. Notes 1. The Charity Commission is the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales. See www.charitycommission.gov.uk for further information or call our contact centre on 0845 3000 218. 2. The Charity Commission engaged BMG Research to carry out the survey of mosques in England and Wales. In total, 716 mosques were contacted by telephone and interviews were completed with 247 of these organisations. A further 8 organisations completed the survey by post. Research took place during October and November 2008, after a two-week pilot period. The questions for the survey were prepared in collaboration with the Faith and Social Cohesion Unit's external project board, which includes representatives of Muslim organisations. 3. The Faith and Social Cohesion Unit is a dedicated team within the Charity Commission. The Unit is: · working to improve the Commission's and society's understanding of faith-based charities; · engaging with faith communities to identify and support organisations that could be but are not currently registered with the Commission; · assisting faith-based charities to improve their standards of governance and accountability and thereby increase their effectiveness; and · working collaboratively to achieve and promote well run and effectively regulated faith-based charities. The Unit's initial focus is on mosques and other Muslim charities. A Project Board including representatives of the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Body (MINAB) has been established to direct and evaluate the Unit's work and to provide specialist advice. The Unit's work is partially funded by a grant from the Department of Communities and Local Government. 4. The Mosques and Imams Advisory Board (MINAB) has been founded by Al-Khoei Foundation, the British Muslim Forum (BMF), the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), and the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB). *The role of chair of MINAB rotates between members. Seyyed Ferjani is the Chair until March 15th.