The Church of Scotland has congregations serving their communities the length and breadth of Scotland, and beyond. To help as many people as possible better understand their local communities, the Statistics for Mission group produced profiles which are available as PDF downloads from the Church of Scotland website. The profiles give maps of parish and Presbytery areas before describing what Scotland's Census 2011 illustrates about the people living in the area. Parishes can cover small numbers of people, from a few tens to hundreds to a few thousand, and only the Census gives the resolution needed to best understand them. Those using the profiles have particularly appreciated a page describing their area as if it "were a village of 100 people" which even the most numerophobic seem to grasp, while others who prefer to deal with their data visually can see pages of bar or pie charts describing aspects such as population breakdown, household type and qualification level. Tables of figures are also given for people who prefer all of the details. These profiles are available for every parish in Scotland through the "Church Finder" by entering a post code or address at http://cos.churchofscotland.org.uk/church_finder/. The profiles are found by following the "Parish Statistics" link. Companion material for groups using the profiles, "Who is my neighbour?" was also developed and is available to download from www.resourcingmission.org.uk/resources/statistics-mission .
Accessibility was the core concern of the Statistics for Mission Group; we aimed to present data from Scotland's Census 2011 in as easy a way as possible for everyone to grasp. Congregations up and down the country have been poring over their profiles, keen to understand the whole of their area, rather than only the bits they are most aware of. Groups have been considering if they ways in which they serve the community are the best ways - an aging population may point to a parish nurse rather than a youth worker; an area where many homes do not use English may indicate a need for classes in English. Grant applications can be evidence-based and lead to successful, sustainable projects that meet the real needs of people in the parish.
Away from the parish level, Presbyteries are using Census data to identify natural communities, to link congregations serving similar areas and to enable them to engage with the right resources in the correct places. National Councils can use Census and other data, such as the SIMD, to target support to the most deprived areas, deploy ministerial resources, or consider where social care should be planned.
From congregations on the streets of our largest cities and smallest communities alike, to those who work on their behalf in resourcing and policy making, the data available in Scotland's Census 2011 is invaluable in serving all of the people of Scotland.