22 / 05 / 20
The Faith & Belief Forum have been working in Barking & Dagenham since 2018, when funding from London Borough of Barking & Dagenham was used to set up the pioneering Faith in Barking & Dagenham project.
The borough of Barking & Dagenham is very diverse in terms of faith and belief, with 75% of residents identifying with a religion or faith. There is also a rich and vibrant faith sector, with 128 faith-based organisations in the borough including a former royal monastery, a beacon mosque, a gurdwara that serves the East London Sikh community, and a temple that serves the Nichiren Shu community for the whole of Northern Europe.
On the other hand, as the 7th most deprived borough in London, Barking & Dagenham faces major challenges in health, housing, education and skills. The combination of a rising growing population levels and reduction in funding from central government, means the Council must face these challenges with reduced resources. Reported hate crimes against ethnic and religious minorities have risen, raising fears that extremist groups may use social tension to further divide communities.
Since 2018, we have been working in close partnership with the Barking & Dagenham Faith Forum (B&D Faith Forum) to deliver a number of community interventions with residents of different ages, faiths, beliefs, and backgrounds, including: school workshops, a leadership programme for young adults, arts workshops, and production of a ‘Faith Builds Community: Working Together in Barking & Dagenham’ document in collaboration with the Council and local communities.
Throughout May, the Faith & Belief Forum worked with the Council to deliver six 90-minute online Faith Inclusion workshops to 50 LBBD staff members. The aim of the sessions was to build participants’ knowledge and confidence for working with and supporting residents from different faith and belief backgrounds. Our workshop involved participants sharing personal experience working with diverse local residents and reflecting on F&BF’s research about experiences of people of faith in the borough. All participants received a handout of guidance and an action plan to fill in for their future work with residents of different faiths, beliefs and backgrounds.
Attendees from the Local Authority staff worked in diverse teams from across the Council, including Employment and Skills, Sheltered Housing Team, Community Enterprise, Enabling Independence, Older Peoples Community Mental Health Team and Universal Lifecycle (Community Solutions) amongst others. In evaluation, over 92% of attendees felt the workshop was relevant to their role and tailored specifically to the local context. This is just one example of the unique approach F&BF have towards our local authority projects.
Our interactive online workshops explored questions such as:
Some feedback from workshop participants:
“I have come to understand things that I never knew before – it was an eye opener for me”
“It helped to think about language and think about changing some words used when engaging with families”
“I wish it had been longer. It has made me want to educate myself more around different faiths and cultures”
“As a result of this workshop I will think about my language and also think about planning ahead before visits with different cultures that I am unfamiliar with”
“As a result of this workshop I will educate myself around the different faiths so that I can be more respectful, accommodating, and understanding
“This workshop has reminded me of the need to take faith and spirituality into account in my work”