Census Data

Census data provides demographic information about the communities we’re serving in our parishes. The more we understand about the status and needs of our communities, the more we can serve God in being effective in mission.  

Some of the details Census data might reveal are:-

  • How many people live in your parish 

  • An age profile of overall community

  • What the most pressing social needs are 

  • What the ethnic, faith or education background is 

  • What the state of health and healthcare is like

  • Areas of employment or lack of it and the resultant deprivation


Detailed parish reports and how to get them

With thanks to the hard work of the Research and Statistics team from the national Church of England, 2011 census data has been combined with parish attendance and financial information, the previous (2001) census, and a range of other government information, to create a valuable Parish Spotlight for every parish.

These Parish Spotlights contain key information, represented in a graphical format, together with some of the questions it raises. Every parish’s Spotlight is available to everyone, so that together we can better understand the needs of the areas we all minister in.
Data from the 2021 Census is not yet available in Spotlight form but you can find out relevant data by postcode by visiting The Office for National Statistics webpage.

To obtain a copy of any 2011 Parish Spotlight, please contact Beth Cluer with details of which report(s) you would like. Beth can also discuss with you the mission implications of Spotlight reports. If you have specific questions on the data itself, please contact the national team.

Making the most of these reports

Read your Spotlight Report in conjunction with your Statistics for Mission report so you have the widest possible picture. Then, try four steps to help you use the Census data most effectively:-

1. Give everyone on the PCC, leadership team, ministry team and/or Standing Committee a copy of the data in advance of a meeting and ask them to circle three things that surprised them and three things that confirmed what they already knew.

2. Compare what people have found, note similarities, encouragements where existing ministries meet a need, challenges where they do not, and any surprises.

3. Pray about, discuss and discern whether God is using this to nudge the parish towards reaching out into an area of need previously unmet.

4. Consider what partners there might be to help with this.

Additional notes to explain missing data or anomalies

The national Research and Statistics Department of the Church of England has provided some additional explanatory notes which might help you understand missing data and estimations:

Attendance and Finance data

Attendance and Finance data have been compiled from annual parochial returns. As you may be aware, we do not get a 100% response rate for these each year and the data in these Spotlights do not contain any estimates. The Spotlights are at the parish level, so where there are statistics for multiple churches in a parish, these have been amalgamated. Where there have been pastoral reorganisations, the data may show jumps in figures, or gaps in the data. 

Parish structures

These Spotlights have been compiled using our best [national] knowledge of the geographic make-up of the country. The Diocese of Leicester has churches that work outside the parish system, or work in different geographies such as conventional districts or guild churches. These churches may not appear in the list of pdfs, however the population data for the geographic parish overlaying the area will be of relevance. If there are specific areas for which you would like a community focused Spotlight, without annual parochial returns data, or with annual parochial returns data for different churches then please do contact us with further details about these areas. These structures are accurate as at March 2013, however the annual parochial returns data are accurate as of 2011, so in areas of considerable pastoral reorganisation, there may be mismatches between the geography and the churches for which the annual parochial returns data refer. Once again, please do contact us if there are any specific areas for which you would like us to produce a revised Spotlight.

“Centroid” and “non centroid” spotlights

The community data is based on various government sources, including the 2011 census. Government boundaries do not match our ecclesiastical parish boundaries, so best fit modelling is required. The method we have used is to take the smallest geography for which population data is released (called an Output Area), represent that area with a single dot (placed in the middle of where the people live in that area, called a “Centroid”, and then allocate that population to the parish within which the dot falls. This gives the parish its population count and is a standard best-fit modelling technique. It does mean, however, that for some parishes no dot fall into the boundary, so we are not able to allocate a population count. For these parishes we have given some broad percentages to reflect the population instead.

Church Statistics-only Spotlights

There are a number of parishes where we have annual parochial returns data, but we cannot allocate this to a geography on the ground (and therefore community data). This could be due to pastoral reorganisation, or churches that work outside the parish system. We have included these as a series of Spotlights with very limited data for your information. You may wish to distribute these with the relevant geographic areas. 

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