17 / 06 / 20
London Faith & Belief Community Awards Categories – Improving Access to Services
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought out a variety of challenges, barriers and struggles, that we are all faced to deal with. However, many of these challenges are simply daily life for many, and the pandemic is simply amplifying the struggles of vulnerable people. However, many faith and belief and community groups work tirelessly with these people, to provide them with, and connect them to, lifesaving and life-changing services.
These groups bridge the gap between vulnerable people and communities, and local councils and larger charities, and provide support, services and advice themselves – so as to improve their quality of life and give them greater opportunities. These groups and projects work at a neighbourhood level and are often overlooked, despite providing some of the most vital work amongst our communities.
We at the Faith and Belief Forum believe it is more important than ever to share the stories of how faith groups are supporting their local communities, both in response to COVID-19, and their work in general.
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. We are excited to be launching the 4th London Faith & Belief Community Awards and through this blog series wanted to highlight some exceptional award winners.
An example of a group that is improving access to service is the Down To Earth Project from Quaker Social Action, a London Faith & Belief Community Awards winner from 2017. Based in Tower Hamlets, Quaker Social Action is an independent charity focused on helping people from low income backgrounds, inspired by values of Quakerism. For the last 10 years, they have been running the Down To Earth Project, created to support people struggling with funeral costs. The project offers provides a range of resources to ensure families can have an affordable charity, such as factsheets, and operates a funeral costs helpline for those in need. The project also runs training classes in affordable funeral care for professionals.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Down To Earth Project has also made resources and special support for organising affordable funerals in the time of social distancing and coronavirus. The group has also been running online webinars on the topic, such as how to avoid debt following a funeral. Access to affordable funeral care is often a service that goes unspoken about, despite its everlasting importance, and the Down To Earth Project is a prime example of how and why this is necessary.
Another important group that provides improved access to services is Laamiga Women’s Training and Mentoring, a London Faith & Belief Community Awards winner from 2018. Laamiga is based in Camden and was formed in 2010, with the aim of providing employment and job seeking support for black and minority ethnic women, from refugee and migrant backgrounds, in London. Laamiga is run for women, by volunteering women, with the mission of “giving women the confidence to realise their potential”.
Services provided by the organisation include one-to-one mentoring, career coaching, work experience, business support. The group also runs free training courses on a range of professional topics, such as programming. Black and ethnic minority women, particularly those from a refugee or migrant background, face more obstacles in becoming independently financially stable and with finding employment, but the hard work of Laamiga helps to break these barriers and allow the women involved to reach their full potential as professional, confident individuals. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Laamiga has been running online events and courses, such as a free online CV workshop. To find out more about these classes and Laamiga Women’s Training and Mentoring, please visit their website, and Facebook and Twitter pages.
Both the Down To Earth Project and Laamiga Women’s Training and Mentoring are prime examples of improving access to services, a nomination category for the London Faith & Belief Community Awards. This category celebrates the hard work, done by groups such as these two, in providing essential services for vulnerable people and those in need. They work closely with communities and individuals, ensuring that they have an improved quality of life and can reach their full potentials, by allowing them to access services and support networks designed to help them.
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, this is your chance to nominate them! Each winner will be given awards of £500 and will be invited to attend an awards ceremony with over 300 other inspirational Londoners.
Article by Nick McDonald
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