Bedford is the UK’s most generous town - and the news comes in the week when a local church has sent more than £30,000 to help Christians in Iraq.
The data has gathered by donation site JustGiving which compiled its list based on the number of givers and the amount donated in relation to populations.
Of those 79,150 people with a ‘Bedford postcode’, more than half (41,631) gave a total of £1,145,967 to charity appeals on the site in the year to May 2014.
The results were determined by calculating how much a town had donated via the site – adjusted to account for the number of donors relative to the population size.
Mayor of Bedford, Dave Hodgson, said: “It’s fantastic to hear that Bedford has come out on top as the most generous town in the country, but it’s no surprise. I know how generously people give not only their hard-earned money but also their time and energy both to national and to the many excellent local charities.
“Charities and individual fundraisers do incredible things in aid of charitable causes locally, and they are clearly very well supported by the generous, warm-hearted people of Bedford Borough.”
The data only reflects donations made via JustGiving, the UK’s largest charity fundraising website which is widely used for people undertaking sponsored events to raise money for good causes. It does not take into account other charity donations made by people such as putting cash in collections, making payments via direct debits and standing orders, or through other online services.
On Sunday, August 17, hundreds of people from many faiths joined together at King’s Arms Church in Bedford to hear Canon Andrew White, the Vicar of Baghdad and to pray for Iraq.
Canon White spoke of those – including thousands of Christians - being persecuted by the IS terrorists and how many of them are being killed. His assistant had phoned him from Irbil earlier in the evening and said that people “are saying they would rather die than go through this suffering”. White added later “people have lost everything but they say to me that when you have lost everything you realise that all you need is Jesus”.
At the end of the evening, an offering was taken to support the vital work that Canon White and the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East do. In the week that Bedford was named the most generous town in the country by charity website, JustGiving, Christians gave over £30,000 to help those being persecuted.
Simon Holley, the Leader of King’s Arms Church said “it was an amazing moment to have so many Christians gather to pray for Christians in Iraq. We have never had so many people in the building before and had to open up an overflow room to accommodate them. People were deeply moved to hear Canon Andrew share of the suffering of the Iraqi church and gave accordingly. We are still counting the offering but so far we know that over £30,000 was given on the evening. People’s giving demonstrates the truth that Bedford really is an incredibly generous place!”
Canon White, known widely as the Vicar of Baghdad, has been working in Iraq for over a decade pastoring St George’s Church, Baghdad - the only Anglican Church in Iraq. He has also been working with senior religious leaders from across sectarian divides to promote inter-religious reconciliation. Canon White is founder and President of the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East (FRRME), which has been supporting those in the north of Iraq displaced by recent violence.
Information on King’s Arms Church can be found at www.kingsarms.org; you can find out more about the work of Canon Andrew White and FRRME at www.frrme.org