Introducing The “Diocesan Dashboard”
Over the last two years, our diocesan Social Research Unit has been undertaking a special project with a company called Field Dynamics to establish a computerised data-base that collates data and statistics about the Diocese and about each and every parish, pastoral area and deanery. The data-base, called the “Diocesan Dashboard,” will be especially helpful for our diocesan administration and our Catholic Schools and Academies Office, as well as for Framework Teams such as Caritas Diocese of Portsmouth, and for parish, pastoral area and deanery Evangelisation Strategy Teams. It incorporates both internal and external data about the Diocese and indeed, will be an invaluable tool for anyone engaged in pastoral planning at any level. For instance, it could help planners determine where to build a new school or church, or the sorts of ethnic chaplaincy services to be provided or the types of mission and evangelisation strategies appropriate to the given demographics.
The Dashboard incorporates external data from publicly available data such as the Office of National Statistics and local government sources. It also includes Experion data, that is, market-research data that gives detailed breakdowns by household of social groups and segments. It can show data by LSOA or ‘Lower Super-Output Area,’ the basic geographical unit used in social surveys, in effect, a street or group of houses in a small area. It can also show that data collectively for a whole area such as a parish, pastoral area and deanery.
The Dashboard also incorporates ‘internal’ data. These come from the annual parish returns to the Diocese. Over the next months, it is also hoped to include the results of the recent Demographic Survey of our parishes - a once every five years snapshot of the Mass going population by age, sex, ethnicity, Rite and frequency of attendance - and from there to show the annual trends for parishes, pastoral areas, deaneries and the Diocese as a whole.
Some of the features of the Diocesan Dashboard:
- diocesan overview, with a map showing the exact boundaries of every parish, pastoral area and deanery, down to house/street level, plus the location of all our churches and schools.
- the population profile of each parish, pastoral area and deanery, shewing sex, age (under 18s, those of working age, retired), ethnicity - the Dashboard uses 10 categories aggregated from the 42 used in the National Census: see Notes - and religious affiliation. It is interesting to see the ethnic mix of places in the Diocese (e.g. where most people of a specific nationality or ethnic origin live) and also religious affiliations (Christian, Muslim, Hindu, etc.). It tells you, for instance, which are the places in the Diocese with the highest number of ‘nones,’ people who claim to have no religious affiliation. One place has over 45%.
- social indicators (with Notes) on the population of each parish, pastoral area and deanery. These include levels of deprivation affecting income, employment, child-poverty and the elderly. The next button ‘Detailed Social Indicators’ expands these indicators to cover a range of other metrics, for instance, life-expectancy and benefits claimed. It drills this down to each LSOA, displaying areas within a parish, for instance, a few roads or a block of houses, and their relative affluence or relative poverty. This often confirms and sometimes reverses anecdotal observation and evidence. It also places each LSOA within the national picture. The parish in the Diocese with the most overall deprivation is St. John’s Cathedral. Indeed, one of its LSOAs is ranked nationally 58 out of 32,544, placing it within the top 60 most deprived areas in the country. On the other hand, the most affluent LSOA in the Diocese (31,378 out of 32,544) lies within one of our Reading parishes.
- mosaic profiles and characteristics are given for each LSOA, and for every parish, pastoral area and deanery. These shew the social segments and groups found in each area and again place them within a national context. It appears that our Diocese as a whole has approaching twice the national average of Social Class B, that is, people in ‘Prestige Positions’ in “large detached homes living upmarket lifestyles”!
- internal data, or as it is called on the Dashboard, “Catholic Life.” This is the data from parish annual returns relating to the numbers of baptisms, Receptions into Full Communion, First Holy Communions, Confirmations, Marriages and funerals, plus the annual Mass count. The data can be viewed by parish, pastoral area and Deanery, as well as for the Diocese as a whole.
The Dashboard is now entering its fourth and final phase of development. This will see the addition of the remaining internal data, plus some upgrades in functionality, such as the ability to show trends. The internal data will then be updated annually in the light of parish returns and once every five years in the case of the Demographic Survey. The external data will be updated after each National Census, the next being in 2021.
The Dashboard is a fascinating tool. It will surely be a most helpful stimulus to mission. It exists for internal use only and is free to download by parishes, schools, clergy, ESTs and pastoral councils, lay workers, volunteers, parish charity teams and Framework teams.
3 Steps to obtain a copy of the “Diocesan Dashboard"
To obtain a copy of the Dashboard, the user has to install Tableau Reader and to request from Bishop’s Office a password to the server, from which s/he can download the file and save it to their machine.
1. Download Tableau Reader for free
2. Request a password from Bishop’s Office
3. Check your email and follow instructions
Bishop Philip Egan