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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 January 2006, 21:27 GMT
Minister launches NW faith forum
A new body giving the North West's faith communities their say on regional issues is launched on Friday.

Home Office Minister Paul Goggins will join the launch of the Northwest Forum of Faiths at St Augustine's New Avenham Centre in Preston.

The 24 member forum represents nine world faith communities from all over the region.

Backed by the North West Development Agency (NWDA) the forum gives the faith communities a regional voice.

Key role

NWDA research has revealed that the region's faiths play a key role in offering social care to vulnerable members of society and stimulate unrivalled levels of volunteering as well as being responsible for much of the region's built heritage.

It also found that faith communities contribute up to 94.9m to the regional economy annually and attract 697,114 visitors.

Monsignor John Devine, Churches Officer for the North West, said according to the 2001 census eight out of 10 people in the North West identify themselves as being a member of a faith community.

"For the first time we have a transparent and accountable mechanism which does justice to the diversity of faith communities but is flexible enough to respond to requests for consultation on regional policy issues at short notice," he said.

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