Rising Tensions A note from Canon Paul Hackwood, Baroness Margarent Eaton (Near Neighbours Chairman), and Liz Carnelley (Near Neighbours Programme Director) This last week has seen real change and upheaval and a major exercise of democracy but it has also seen some significant increases in hate crime and intolerance. At Church Urban Fund we have continued our work through Near Neighbours of bringing people together and breaking down the barriers that keep people apart. We have some wonderful stories of where people have gone beyond toleration of each other’s beliefs to an active celebration of our life together. In Hyson Green in Nottingham the Salaam-Shalom Kitchen has been bringing Jewish and Muslim people together to get to know each other and to support those who need a hot meal in their neighbourhood. UK Butterflies in Bradford, a group of Eastern European and Bangladeshi women, who have come together to run a Parent and Toddler group, cook and eat sessions, and job search workshops. They started with suspicion of each other but now offer each other active practical support and advice. In Birmingham we have seen Somali and Eritrean women coming together to develop mutual support and a hub for developing micro enterprises to develop employment skills and tackle social needs. The foundation of British society is personal freedom and a strong belief in equality; these beliefs are fundamental to our national identity. Those of us who oppose discrimination and bigotry need to redouble our efforts to create the positive diversity that is the foundation of British society. In a time of major change in our country, it is important that we come together with a set of common values about religious freedom, respect for others, the acceptance of diversity and a commitment to create the positively diverse British society we all want to see. At Near Neighbours we have a vision of a plural society, along with the vast majority of citizens in our country, where the contribution of all is valued and celebrated. That’s what we will continue to do at Near Neighbours.