The Near Neighbours programme was launched in 2011. It brings people together in communities that are religiously and ethnically diverse, so they can get to know each other better, build relationships of trust, and collaborate together on initiatives that improve the local community they live in. Near Neighbours achieves this in the following ways:
- small grants (between £250-£5000) are available to local groups and organisations who bring together people from different backgrounds in a local area to improve the local community
- training and workshops on topics such as project planning, volunteer management, public speaking, and fundraising are offered to equip individuals and organisations (particularly those from traditionally excluded groups) to play an active and constructive role in civil society
- Near Neighbours’ nine regional hubs, each staffed by a coordinator, function as local focal points for Near Neighbours activities. Responsibilities of the coordinators include brokering relationships between local organisations, building interfaith networks, mentoring aspiring leaders, organising and facilitating events, and feeding into local government integration strategies.
An external evaluation was commissioned to explore the long-term impact of Near Neighbours, examining how and to what extent Near Neighbours has developed local leadership, built the capacity of community organisations, and contributed to improved social cohesion and integration. The evaluation was conducted by brap between August 2018 and January 2019.