England's Anglican cathedrals are playing a "key part" in bringing local communities together, according to a report published in the UK late last week.

The report - Cathedrals and their communities: A report on the diverse roles of cathedrals in modern England - was compiled by the UK Government's Minister for Faith, Lord Bourne, after he visited all 42 of the country's Anglican cathedrals.

In a foreward to the report, Lord Bourne wrote that as well as "attracting more worshippers and diversifying towards new activities and programmes to meet the changing needs of their communities", he also found in the cathedrals "excellent examples of their commitment to social justice, interfaith relations and pastoral care".

"I came away with the impression that our cathedrals are a source of strength, collaboration and comfort for all of our communities, regardless of faith or background," he wrote.

The report said cathedrals sat at the heart of many communities across England, "not only as buildings often at the centre of urban hubs but also playing a key part in bringing their local communities closer together". 

"Across the country, cathedrals are working hard to encourage more people to step inside and make use of their buildings as a part of their local space," it said. "The tour highlighted many great examples of how cathedrals can be hubs for community life – from helping the homeless to promoting interfaith dialogue."

The report detailed how cathedrals are providing support to everyone from refugees to the homeless and those living with HIV/AIDS as well as connecting with young people and tourists.

It said that while it was clear "Christian worship is still at the heart of what cathedrals do", the increasing popularity of using cathedrals as a space to hold a wide range of events, exhibitions and other functions meant locals were also "becoming more comfortable with using the cathedral as a part of their community space".

Among the issues addressed within the report was that of charging tourists for entry into cathedrals. The report said that while charging policies were understandable given the costs cathedrals face, it was "worth considering" the example of Chester Cathedral which has reported increased profits since it stopped charging and that of Durham Cathedral which has pledged to keep its main space free to enter.