The Archbishop of Canterbury has joined other faith leaders in welcoming £1.5million in funding for an “innovative, collaborative and inspiring” initiative to build stronger faith-community relations.
The Near Neighbours programme received the funds this week, which will be used to support social action projects across the UK.
The programme runs initiatives to tackle social problems such as unemployment, homelessness and hatred, whilst building trust between people of different faith and cultural groups.
Projects have included the Saalam-Shalom interfaith kitchen for the homeless, young girls of different faiths learning computer coding with Twitter engineers, and Synagogues hosting interfaith Iftars at Ramadan.
The new resources, which are the third round of such funding from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), were welcomed by Archbishop Justin Welby.
Welby said he was ‘delighted’, heralding the “innovative, collaborative and inspiring work of Near Neighbours”. He added that they have “enabled local communities across the country to work and live together effectively”.
Near Neighbours has previously awarded seed capital worth over £3.5million to over 1,120 projects across the UK. Over 70% of those projects have continued after an initial ‘seed’ was planted.
The injection of cash was welcomed by Communities Minister Baroness Williams, who said the programme “has a great track record in encouraging individuals from different backgrounds, faiths and cultures to come together on the issues and concerns that are most important to them.”
Rabbi Natan Levy, an advisor to the programme said the Jewish community ‘warmly welcomes’ its continued funding. “Minority groups, like our own, can often turn inward in this age of increasing tension, and programmes that gently nudge us to engage with people, cultures and faiths that are different from us, are simply vital.
Dilwar Hussein, a Near Neighbours advisor said: “This work is vital in bringing people together at a time of extreme anxiety, to bridge divides and challenge narratives of hatred and division.”
Set up in 2011 in partnership with the Church Urban Fund and the Archbishop’s Council, Near Neighbours projects have impacted upon nearly a million people across the UK with funding from the DCLG.