Near Neighbours in a nutshell
The idea is to bring people together who are near neighbours in communities that are diverse, so they can get to know each other better, build relationships as people and collaborate together on initiatives that improve the local community they live in.
Near Neighbours has two key objectives:
- Social interaction - to develop positive relationships in multi-faith areas i.e. to help people from different faiths get to know and understand each other better.
- Social action - to encourage people of different faiths, or no faith, to come together for initiatives that improve their local neighbourhood.
Why is Near Neighbours needed?
Some places in England such as Leicester, Bradford, parts of Birmingham and East London have a number of different faith communities living close to each other.
These are often areas of deprivation and the people living there share common concerns – they want a better local community, but they don’t come together to talk or act on this as much as they could.
Yet, local people in local communities are the ones who are ideally placed to identify and develop solutions that can improve their own neighbourhood.
Separation can lead to misunderstanding and a lack of trust or respect for each other, which is not healthy for a local community.
Near Neighbours builds on work the churches and their partners who live locally have already been doing in these areas.
Church Urban Fund, the Church of England’s poverty relief charity in England, has been working for over 20 years in the most deprived areas of England, including these multi-faith communities.
The Church of England parish system recognises a duty of care for all, and has for decades been working locally with partners in multi-faith areas to foster the better relationships and understanding that help build better communities.
The infrastructure is already in place through the Church, the Church Urban Fund and their partners to deliver this new initiative within local communities, so the money goes where it is needed without creating new layers of administration.
Examples of this work:
- Faith leader training - the Christian Muslim Forum has pioneered residential weekends, where pairs of local ministers and imams from the same neighbourhood spend a residential weekend together to get to know each other better, build a relationship and share it with their congregation and mosque community.
- The Feast, which works with secondary school age young people and builds relationships between young Christians and Muslims.
- The Nehemiah Foundation trains and supports people and organisations committed to transforming and improving their local communities.
Near Neighbours will extend this work to other organisations working for better social interaction and understanding, including the Council of Christians and Jews, The Hindu Christian Forum, the Christian Muslim Forum and Sikh and other religious communities.
Where will Near Neighbours operate?
- Near Neighbours is not a national programme. It is focussed on four key areas: the north of England (Bradford, Burnley and Oldham); Leicester; areas of London, and areas of Birmingham, which are diverse and multi-faith.
- In Birmingham this covers the wards of Aston, Bordesley Green, Edgbaston, Hodge Hill, Ladywood, Lozells and East Handsworth, Moseley and Kings Heath, Nechells, Soho, South Yardley, Sparkbook, Springfield, Washwood Heath.
- In London, it will cover the boroughs of Islington, Greenwich, Hackney, Lewisham, Newham, Redbridge, Southwark, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest.
- Each of the four geographical areas has an established Centre with experience of multi-faith partnership working:
- Leicester - St. Philip's Centre for Presence and Engagement in a multi-faith society.
- Bradford - Bradford Centre for Dialogue and Diversity (BCDD).
- East London - The Contextual Theology Centre (CTC).
- Birmingham - Faithful Neighbourhood Centre.
These centres are focussed on training and learning about each other, and there is already a network of individuals and groups engaged and committed to improving their community.
Near Neighbours will provide four levels of support:
- To help the four Centres already working in multi-faith areas.
- To create a Near Neighbours Fund for people on the ground in local communities who have good ideas about getting different groups of people working together, and need help to get their ideas off the ground.
- To assist other inter-faith organisations to extend their work.
- To assist in work at a neighbourhood level.
Near Neighbours Fund
This fund will help local initiatives that build cross-community relationships i.e. people of different faith groups and those of no faith, working together through social action in their community to form closer relationships.
- Community music groups, which offer young people opportunities to do something creative in a safe space, reducing the risk that they will get involved in street crime.
- Local people from diverse backgrounds coming together for common goals like supporting children’s reading in schools.
- Women of different faiths making bread together.
The fund will make grants of £250 - £5,000 available. These grants will be administered through the Church Urban Fund via local parishes.
How does it work in practice?
- Church Urban Fund and the Church of England have set up a new charity called Near Neighbours.
- The core work of Church Urban Fund is not affected by Near Neighbours.
- Near Neighbours is giving financial support to the four Centres.
- The Near Neighbours Fund will have a simple application process.
- Applications will go through the local Church of England parish church and the grants committee of Near Neighbours. Church Urban Fund, which has many years' experience of administering grants, will handle the administration of Near Neighbours grants. Support and advice in the application process can be given by Near Neighbours staff in each of the four centres.
- The beneficiaries can be from all faiths or none.
- Eligibility will be restricted to projects within the areas covered by the four Centres.
- Turnaround time for decisions will be fast (around 14 days).
Near Neighbours is funded by