Communities Secretary John Denham today unveiled a £1m fund to help faith groups get their voices heard by Government and public bodies and help play their part delivering public services.
John Denham praised faith groups for their hard work and commitment to their local communities and called on local authorities to ignore the myths about faith communities and create a level playing field for faith groups providing publicly funded services.
He also announced a £50,000 prize to reward faith groups for innovative projects in their local communities.
John Denham said:
"Government and faith don’t always speak the same language but we should be working from a state of mutual understanding not misconceptions. It is vital that as wide a range of voices as possible are being heard and that the experience of faith groups on issues that span both the local and the global – from homelessness to climate change – are drawn on for the benefit of us all."
"Faith groups have a unique perspective which must be recognised by Government and local councils and this is especially important at a time when public services are under financial pressure. We can not afford to over look the innovative ways faith communities address issues. The prize I am establishing today will highlight and reward the innovative ways faith groups address the challenges that arise in their communities.
"For millions of people faith plays an important role in their day to day lives. It is right that government recognises this role and supports the good work being done. The money being announced today will not be used to directly core fund these groups directly - this is not the role of Government - but is intended to support those communities which lack the capacity and infrastructure to respond effectively in dialogue on issues that affect and matter to them and highlight some of the great work being done so they can continue to build on their valuable work in their local communities."
Speaking a conference in London - Faith and Social Action: Innovation and Expertise – John Denham announced a package of measures:
£1m Faith Working With Government fund
National faith based organisations are invited to bid for a share of £1m funding that help them develop a bigger voice and strengthen their capacity to challenge and engage Government.
The money is focused on making sure these organisations have the tools they need to do the job and could be used for activities including training in fundraising.
£50,000 Innovation in Faith-Based Social Action Prize.
The prize is being developed to help publicise and reward faith based projects which have not yet received the recognition they deserve. Prizes will be awarded to faith projects who are finding new ways to meet local problems, bring people together and meet the needs of local communities
New ‘myth busting’ guidance for local government on working with faith groups.
At times there has been a reluctance or confusion on the part of some local authorities to commission services from faith based groups and there are concerns amongst many groups and organisations including faith groups that they are disadvantaged when trying to access funding. It is clear that greater clarity is needed if local authorities and faith groups are going to have confidence they need to work together. Faith-based bodies are entitled, like any other suitably qualified bodies, to be awarded funding to deliver public services. A paper dealing with some common myths entitled Ensuring a level playing field: funding faith based organisations to provide publicly funded services, will be launched at the conference. The paper is intended to deal with current confusion about these arrangements.
Note to Editors
1. 180 people will be attending the Faith and Social Action Conference at the Central Hall Westminster. The themes of the conference are social action and advocacy and faith-based social action.
2. Faith prize:
The Innovation in Faith-based Social Action Prize - to be formally opened in the summer - aims to reward innovation in faith-based service delivery;
it will make awards in five different categories
• Independent projects (i.e. not already receiving public funding)
• Projects delivered with funding support from a local authority
• Advocacy and community development projects;
• Multi faith projects
• Youth projects
The total value of the prize fund is £50,000. This includes a top prize of £15,000 for the most innovative social action project, and three runners up prizes of £5000
There will also be four prizes of £1000 for the best examples in each of the five different categories
Projects can nominate themselves, or be nominated by others. Expressions of interest should be sent to InnovationPrize@communities.gsi.gov.uk
3. Faith Leadership in Government Fund
The Secretary of State announced a new Faith Leadership in Government Fund worth £1.2m, which is designed to boost the capacity of the national faith bodies who work with Government
- Government departments engage and consult faith communities on the development and implementation of policies that affect them and the communities in which they live.
- The new fund will be able to make available packages of up to £30,000 to national organisations that can show a track record of representing and having real roots in their communities, of working with government, and of having a real contribution to make.
- Applications will be through open competition, and bidding will open in summer 2010.
4. In 2008 Government published Face to Face and Side by Side. Developed with faith communities, this set out for the first time a national, strategic framework for promoting inter faith activity. This is supported by £7.5 million of investment, £4m of which has been allocated to support local inter faith projects through the Faiths in Action programme.
5. A further £3.5m is supporting regional and national structures and projects which promote inter faith activity, for instance the first ever Inter Faith Week in England, during which schools, voluntary bodies, youth groups, places of worship and other groups undertook a huge range of activities.
6. During the first Inter Faith Week, people of all and no faiths, came together to engage in dialogue and overcome misconceptions. The week saw a variety of inter faith activities taking place up and down the country with great success.
7. Myth busting guidance details available athttp://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/communities/pdf/15073411
Phone: For enquiries please contact the above department