24 / 06 / 20
London Faith & Belief Community Awards Categories – Improving Access to Services
In an ever changing and diversifying world, relationships and spaces between and for different faith and group beliefs have become ever important. This has been particularly highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic. London’s diverse and varied neighbourhoods have had to separate within their communities. Shared spaces for discussion, activities and friendships are not readily available, leaving many feeling lonely and isolated.
However, many groups exist to bridge these gaps and form powerful connections between people from different backgrounds. Be it online, such as during the COVID-19 lockdown, or within schools, workplaces and communities, it is vital to foster and uphold strong and supportive interfaith relations.
For the past four years, we have had the pleasure of hosting the London Faith & Belief Community Awards. This allows us to shine a spotlight on these amazing groups, raising their profile and voice, and ensuring they can continue to work hard for their communities.
An example of an organisation creating interfaith spaces is PL84U Al-Suffa, a London Faith & Belief Community Award winner from 2017. PL84U Al-Suffa based in Walthamstow, was founded by a local Muslim family in 2012. The charity runs a variety of services, but central to their work is their foodbank, for homeless, elderly and vulnerable people of all faiths and backgrounds, in the diverse area of Walthamstow. They follow the motto of “To earn the pleasure of Allah, by serving humanity”, and this can be clearly seen in the hard-work and dedication they have in their community. Their services include providing hot meal and clothes, supporting isolated people and encouraging bonds across the community and is powered by local volunteers.
PL84U Al-Suffa is more than just a service, they act as a friend, someone to talk to, and a gateway to strong community that vulnerable individuals did not previously have access to. Although winning their award three years ago, PL84U Al-Suffa have remained an active member of the Faith & Belief Forum family, regularly updating us with their progress and work. Like many foodbanks, the COVID-19 pandemic has made their job even harder, but the PL84U Al-Suffa team have not slowed down in their motivation, adapting to the changes by offering takeaway food and other community services.
When their discussing their win, PL84U commented how they are still feeling its effects, three years on. They spoke about how “People are seeing the work we do, and the long queues we have outside the food bank, we open at 2pm and the queues start to form from 12 noon…people see what we are doing, and they are contributing”. This highlights just how hard they work, and continue to do some in difficult times. To find out more about PL84U Al-Suffa, please visit their website and Instagram page.
Another key interfaith organisation is Faith for The Climate, a London Faith & Belief Community Award winner from 2018. Faith communities have a vital role to play when it comes to combating climate change, as they have the power and influence to motivate people of faith and encourage greener lifestyles, within and across, faith communities. Based in Southwark, Faith for the Climate is a space for people from all faith backgrounds and those outside, such as CEOs and NGO professionals, to come together and take on climate change issues. Pulling in from each faith and belief, the organisation runs workshops, forums and even helped organise the largest lobby of Parliament. The support they get and the work they do are a testament to how powerful interfaith can be to making a difference, especially when it comes to pressing, global issues such as climate change and the environment. To find out more about Faith for The Climate’s work, please visit their website and Twitter page.
Both PL84U Al-Suffa and Faith for The Climate highlight the importance for celebrating interfaith relations, a nomination category for the London Faith & Belief Community Awards. This category focuses on the importance of creating interfaith organisation and spaces, which allow for education and dialogue between different groups, encourage diversity and equality, and create safe spaces across boundaries.
With our upcoming London Faith & Belief Community Awards 2020, we hope to share the stories of similar, important work. If you know of any grassroots projects or groups of unsung community heroes that deserve to be celebrated, please nominate them when nominations go live next month. Each winner will be given awards of £500 and will be invited to attend an awards ceremony (we are reviewing this in light of COVID-19).
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