Westminster Abbey is committed to an active programme of social engagement. Social engagement means the Abbey’s engagement with the wider world in ways which contribute generally to human flourishing and specifically to social justice.
1. The broad principles of the Abbey’s social engagement
There is a powerful theological mandate for this sort of engagement. It is a natural and inevitable outcome of living faithfully in the image of God. Social engagement is in itself an essential constituent of faith and must be integral to the mission of every church. It is also an expression of the moral and social values of many who have no religious faith or different faith.
Social engagement is an inherent part of the Abbey’s culture and values, and an embedded part of the Abbey’s daily work. It involves advocacy, service and hospitality, in word and deed, giving priority to supporting the poor, the marginalised and the oppressed. It is shaped by the Abbey’s distinctive national context, historic role and resources. Social engagement is a core part of the Abbey’s mission. It informs our overall strategy; is a normal part of intercessions and preaching; is part of the induction and training of Abbey staff; and is included in Abbey welcomes and guided tours.
2. The extent of our existing practice
Existing Abbey practice takes a variety of forms. These include:
- Charitable donations, which do not fall below 10% of the Abbey’s annual unrestricted surplus.
- Subsidising visits by charitable groups and offering hospitality in full to individuals and some visiting charitable groups.
- Ceremonial/liturgical celebration and endorsement of national or international movements for social justice and service to society.
- Our policy of providing help for educational visit from schools in disadvantaged areas.
- The work of the Westminster Abbey Institute.
- Offering work experience to disadvantaged young people.
- The annual day for volunteering offered to staff.
- Active engagement to protect the environment, for example, in our power consumption.
3. Our new plans for the future
The Abbey is always open to new areas of potential activity across a range of possibilities, measured carefully against the following criteria:
- Appropriateness against the Abbey’s unique role and status: i.e. what the Abbey can distinctively offer
- A response to local, national and international need.
- Complementarity, and the need to avoid duplication with other agencies.
- Support targeted on a limited number of main themes, normally no more than 3 at any one time.
- The potential for direct participation by Abbey staff.
- The possibility of partnership with specialist agencies.
- The scope for targeting financial giving to make a genuine contribution.
- The potential for making a difference over a limited period (normally up to 5 years).
- The scope for supporting other areas on a short-term basis alongside the main projects.
As part of our commitment to social engagement, the Dean and Chapter has decided to give particular focus over the next five years to:
- Provide support for the victims of slavery and people-trafficking initiatives.
- Provide further support for disadvantaged young people, especially through partnership with The Prince’s Trust.
- Target the Abbey’s charitable giving to create a longer-term and deeper relationship of up to five years with a smaller number of charities.