03 / 12 / 21
The annual London Faith & Belief Community Awards ceremony was held this week, with over 40 awarded in 6 categories in over 20 boroughs.
Celebrating its 5th year, the 2021 awards ceremony was a hybrid event held at the Royal Society of Medicine. Over 1000 people, in person and online, witnessed the awards on Monday night, with speeches from Sir Kenneth Olisa OBE, Bushra Nasir CBE DL and Sir David Dangoor CBE DL, and a musical interlude with the London International Gospel Choir. You can see the entire event on YouTube here.
Sir Ken Olisa OBE is the Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London, describes himself as the “eyes and ears of her majesty” in the capital. In his speech opening the ceremony, he highlighted that despite the fears over the impact of Brexit and the pandemic, what the last 2 years have shown is that the nation has the capacity to persist in common values, with religion and belief groups at the forefront.
Making parallels to the Good Samaritan from the New Testament on the power of caring for others, he said everyone present “represents the people that have delivered yourselves to others, irrespective of if they were of your faith or not, your neighbours or not”.
The 6 categories of Health & Wellbeing, Inspiring Youth, Promoting Inclusion, Supporting Women, Resourcefulness in Response to COVID-19 and Inspiring Individuals all had incredible award winners. Over 98 projects were nominated this year, with 35 projects and 8 individuals awarded, and over 50 projects ‘recognised’.
The Outbreak Youth Movement has a Christian ethos, and began in 2015 after a young boy was stabbed in a Pimlico estate. It was one of the winners in the ‘Inspiring Youth’ category, and their flagship project ‘Hot Chocolate Thursday’ now attracts over 200 youth and their families a week. A spokesperson for the charity at the ceremony said: “Its our faith that drives us, its faith that keeps us moving, and we know that love is actually a verb. With God, it’s that love that drives us out to reach the hands and hearts of our children”.
They gave thanks to the London Faith & Belief Awards “because these things are celebrating those people who are doing lots of work on the ground, its nice to be rewarded, it keeps you going and gives a boost to continue doing good work.”
17 year old student Nina Andersen began Community Senior Letters with the initial aim of “cheering up a few people in my local community” during the early days of the 2020 lockdown. This project has now expanded exponentially and internationally, reaching countries such as Uzbekistan and Japan, and over 250 primary schools and are matched with elderly care homes to combat loneliness. At the event, Nina said: “These acts of kindness are needed more than ever in the world right now. So by winning this award I hope it encourages other people to get involved in their local communities, and to reach out to those having a hard time – whether that’s your family, friends or even strangers.”
Receiving the Supporting Women award for Peninim, Malka Meisels said: “At a Peninim event, we play games, do crafts, sing, dance – and literally fly. We are ourselves, we feel accepted, we make the most of our talents, the limit
is the sky. I thank you for calling me here today. This award touches me in a very special way – my dream became possible. My vision expanded beyond expectations, because impossible became a possible with much determination”.
Other notable winners are 11-year old Alvina’s Food Bank, Faith’s Against Domestic Abuse awareness week, ‘Sisters in Business’ supporting Muslim women entrepreneurs, Jewish JUMP project befriending asylum seekers, and many more inspiring projects and groups. You can see the entire winners list here.
Sir David Dangoor CBE DL, Chair of the Faith Council, closed the event with a speech saying that The Faith & Belief Community Award winners represent the “wonderful social tapestry that this great city provides” and are the “backbone of London”.
Jess Hazrati, Faith & Belief Forum awards coordinator for the event, says “We were delighted to host the 5th London Faith & Belief Community Awards. The energy, creatively and passion of London’s amazing faith and belief communities is contagious! Everyone left the event with a positive buzz that we hope will ripple out into our communities.”
We are grateful for the support of our headline sponsor, Dangoor Education and category sponsor, Direct Line Group. We would also like to thank Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London, Sir Kenneth Olisa OBE and his Faith Council for their support. Particular thanks to Dr David Dangoor CBE DL, Bushra Nasir CBE DL, Dr Sheila Gewolb DL, Dr Mustafa Abu Lisan DL, Babulal Sethia DL, Colleen Harris MVO DL and Rosi Prescott DL. In addition, we’d like to give a massive thanks to our wonderful hosts Nims Obunge MBE and F&BF’s Siobhán Anderson. A special thanks to Jessica Hazrati for organising yet another successful Awards event, and all the F&BF staff who helped on the evening.