Combatting Faith Hate Partnership launched

launch of CFHP title

Representatives of Jewish, Muslim, Anglican, Catholic and Coptic faith groups have united to establish a Combatting Faith Hate Partnership to tackle the huge rise in religiously motivated hate crime in the city.

Commenting on the launch of the project, the chair of BHFA trustees, Rik Child, said: “This project was proposed after shocking official figures published last year showing recorded religiously motivated hate crime has soared by 1,000% since 2013. The latest figures show 32% relate to Antisemitism and 49% to Islamophobia.”

Rik continued: “We are really pleased to have formed a partnership with the major faith groups in the city and have put together a three part plan to increase religious tolerance. We are looking for members of the public, from all faiths and none, to join our faith tour later in the year so please do get in touch with our project coordinator Lev@bhfa.org.uk if you’re interested in joining.”

The Partnership, which is funded by Brighton and Hove City Council, was formerly launched at a signing ceremony at the April meeting of the City’s Faith Council (see photo) where the three parts of the project were outlined:

  1. Faith panel engaging with education institutions (schools, colleges and universities) – where a panel of Christian, Jewish and Muslim faith leaders discuss the importance of religious tolerance and mutual respect with students and young people.
  2. An adult ‘faith tour’ of local faith groups – Open to people of all faiths and none, the tour group would visit a different Mosque, Synagogue or Church for about six weeks. Participants from the group will record their reflections in an online blog. The hope is this tour will dispel any myths and ‘normalise’ different faiths for people, thereby increasing religious tolerance.
  3. A ‘stand together’ committee – where senior faith leaders meet and break bread together to discuss any instances of external persecution of their own community, or any concerns with internal radicalisation. These private meetings will be a safe forum where leaders of different faiths can support one another in their attempts to tackle religious prejudice or radicalisation.

Fiona Sharpe of the Sussex Jewish Representative Council, said: “In these times of increasing racial and religious intolerance, I am proud to be part of this initiative, bringing together people of faith to support one another within our City of Sanctuary.  It is particularly important that we are outward facing and I am pleased that a major part of the work we will be undertaking is to go out into schools and colleges to further educate young people about Islam and Judaism.  Religious intolerance is caused, in large part, by fear and lack of knowledge.  We will try to address both of those issues”

Tariq Jung, Chair of Brighton and Hove Muslim Forum, said: “We have said before this must be a joint effort – with all faith groups working together – so we’re very pleased to be part of a partnership that includes our friends in the Christian and Jewish communities. We are determined to tackle all forms of religious hatred we see in Brighton together, especially Antisemitism and Islamophobia.”

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City Council funds Combatting Faith Hate Partnership

The BHFA are delighted to announce that the City Council have funded our proposal to establish a Combatting Faith Hate Partnership.

Last year the BHFA was disturbed to read official statistics showing religiously motivated hate crimes rapidly rising in the city (see graph).

religiously motivated hate crime stats 2

Although the figures aren’t broken down by faith, anecdotally we hear most of them relate to Antisemitism and Islamophobia.

We believe that religious hatred, persecution and discrimination has no place in our City so earlier this year we contacted the leaders of Jewish, Muslim and Christian communities to solicit support for a partnership that would build greater community cohesion and resilience against all forms of religious persecution and extremism.

We were pleased to receive the backing of these leaders so we submitted our proposals to the Council who have now awarded us with the funding to move forward. Our approach is three-fold:

  1. Faith panel engaging with education institutions (schools, colleges and universities) – where a panel of Christian, Jewish and Muslim faith leaders discuss the importance of religious tolerance and mutual respect with students and young people.
  2. An adult ‘faith tour’ of local faith groups – where any local adult who is interested in knowing more about how faith groups worship can join an organised tour of different faith group worship services. Open to people of all faiths and none, the tour group would visit a different Mosque, Synagogue or Church for about six weeks. Participants from the group will either write or record their reflections in a blog/video blog which will become publicly available. We hope this will dispel any myths and ‘normalise’ different faiths for people, thereby increasing religious tolerance.
  3. A ‘stand together’ committee – where senior faith leaders meet and break bread together to discuss any instances of external persecution of their own community, or any concerns with internal radicalisation. These private meetings will be a safe forum where leaders of different faiths can support one another in their attempts to tackle religious prejudice or radicalisation.

The BFHA will provide updates to our members and announce opportunities of how you can engage with this work in the coming weeks and months.

YMCA DLG to Chair Homeless Faith Partnership

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Following the February Faith Council meeting which focused on homelessness, YMCA DownsLink Group (YMCA DLG) has agreed to chair the new sub-committee of the Faith Council which will focus on ending Rough Sleeping by 2020.

Around 20 different faith groups in the city deliver services and support for homeless people throughout the year, whether it is running a daily soup run, operating a day centre or hosting a night shelter during the winter months.

Sadly, the number of rough sleepers in the city has risen significantly in the past four years, meaning that both the public and third sector efforts to end street homelessness are no longer fit for purpose. The City Council openly admit they cannot tackle this problem on their own and in recent months there has been a recognition across all sectors that we must unite our efforts. At a Faith Council meeting in February this year, 12 faith groups who deliver homeless services in the city agreed that closer cooperation and coordination amongst the faith groups would be a positive step forward.

YMCA DLG is currently leading on a campaign to end street homelessness, Galvanise Brighton & Hove, and we are pleased to announce that it has now agreed to chair the new sub-committee of the Faith Council that will coordinate efforts to end street homelessness. This tallies with the Rough Sleeping Partnership target to ensure no-one has the need to sleep rough by 2020.

YMCA DLG CEO, Chas Walker said: “Faith groups in Brighton and Hove have a long history of supporting the homeless community, and their combined efforts make a huge difference to the lives of many vulnerable people. We’re really looking forward to learning more about the great work already taking place and consolidating our efforts to reach and support even more rough sleepers off the streets.

BHFA Chair of Trustees, Rik Child said: “This is exciting news. Ending the need to sleep rough in Brighton & Hove is an important goal and many of our members are already committed to playing a strong role in meeting the needs of people on the streets. We hope to be mapping all the services provided by faith groups and working to ensure groups can work better together and are well linked in with each other significantly improving the impact or the services offered focusing on getting beyond keeping people alive on the streets to providing pathways to get off the streets.

The next Faith Council meeting will be held on the 19th April where Chas Walker and YMCA DLG campaigns officer, Sally Duffy, will attend and present proposals of how the Homeless Faith Partnership can move forward with its agenda. If your faith group is interested in hearing more about this and engaging in this work, you are more than welcome to join us. Please email us to find out more.

Faith Council discusses Homelessness

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Over 20 representatives drawn from Christian, Muslim, Spiritualist faith groups and the council attended the latest Faith Council meeting to discuss what faith groups are doing to address homelessness in our city in February.

The Faith Council heard presentions from the following groups:

Faith Group

Project

Speaker

1.      YMCA Downslink Group

Galvanise

Chaz Walker, CEO YMCA DLG
2.      YMCA Brighton

Various

Mark Wainwright, Deputy CEO YMCA Brighton
3.      St Marys CofE Church

St Anne’s day centre

Hazel Randall, St Anne’s Trustee
4.      Elim Pentecostal Church

Food distribution

Mike Byron, volunteer
5.      Al Medinah Mosque

Deen Relief

Shabek Ali, Deen Relief founder
6.      Saint Vincent DePaul Society

Soup run

Peter Cropp, SVP cmte member
7.      Salvation Army, Brighton

The Hub

Fr Jerome Lloyd, volunteer
8.      Metropolitan Community Church

Various

Rev Andy Ramage, Church leader

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The presentations were followed by Q&A from members of the Faith Council and after the presentations were completed the faith groups who deliver homelessness services agreed that they would explore how they could work together more effectively.

Feedback from the event was overwhelmingly positive, with many commenting on how constructive and useful it was to have faith groups brought together to discuss this important issue.

Want to donate to the BHFA?

The BHFA operates as a charity and we rely upon the generosity of our funders to meet our objectives; supporting faith groups who deliver social welfare projects such as food banks, homeless shelters, mental health services and combatting prejudice and religious hatred.

If you would like to donate to the BHFA, we would greatly appreciate your support. Every pound will be spent on furthering our charitable aims and objectives.

Funding training success

funding workshop

The BHFA is pleased to report the Communities Fund Grant Workshop for Faith Organisations was a roaring success, with very positive feedback from participants. Attendees were particularly pleased with the quality of the trainers, who they felt explained the complexities of applying for Council funding well and were much better informed and confident in applying after the training.

Applying for funding from the Council has been difficult, if not impossible, in the past. The council would automatically reject funding applications from faith groups that cited a belief in God in their constitution, so many faith groups stopped applying. Since the 2012 Equalities Act came into force it is illegal for public bodies to discriminate on the basis of faith or religion.

Last year the BHFA supported a funding application from One Church but they were rejected by the Council because their constitution cited a belief in God. The BHFA took up the case with the Council’s equalities department and we’re pleased to report that they agreed that this was a breach of the Equalities Act. The Council have therefore retraining relevant staff and applications from faith groups will no longer be rejected on the basis that the applicant holds religious beliefs.

In addition, the Council’s Equalities department organised and delivered this training workshop in September, led by the superb Sarah Tighe-Ford and Michelle Pooley, in order to help faith groups apply for funding. The BHFA and Community Works were pleased to jointly promote this training and we’re very happy with this positive and proactive approach the Council equalities department has shown towards our local faith community.

Message from our new Chair of Trustees

A message from the new Chair of trustees, Rik Child.

AGM

I’m pleased to report that at last night’s AGM of the BHFA I was elected to the office of chair of the board of trustees with a firm majority. I am honoured to have won the backing of members from a wide variety of faith traditions, including Christian, Jewish and Muslim groups and happy to have spoken to so many of you. I would like to thank all those members who placed their faith in my vision of what the BHFA could become.

NEXT FEW WEEKS

Over the next few weeks I’ll be working with fellow trustees and staff in organising the BHFA to ensure it fulfils its aims and objectives.

To this end:

  1. I have asked Lev, our Project coordinator to establish a regular membership newsletter to go out every month to our members. This is to keep members better informed over the progress of the BHFA and to encourage greater membership engagement and foster unity.
  2. I am about to reach out to several faith leaders and invite them to join the board of trustees to inject new energy and determination to accomplish our vision. More soon.
  3. I think we should have a vice-chair who represents each of the main faith traditions in our city. This is to ensure that a senior voice from the Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist groups are heard at an executive level. Obviously, we want to engage other groups too as trustees.
  4. I have organised a meeting with the CEO of Community Works to discuss how to take the Faith Partnership forwards which is our core income stream at present.

With the social and economic uncertainty of Brexit looming, cuts to local authority budgets continuing and the disturbing rise in religious hate crime, it has never been more important for faith groups to unite in delivering social welfare services, ensuring that any gaps in our social safety net are filled and stand together in resisting religious hate crime.

I will do everything I can to ensure the BHFA plays an active role in bring faith groups together in this important work.

Yours faithfully,

Rik Child, Brighthelm

Chair, Brighton and Hove Faith in Action