Stories of exclusion in London fill the airwaves and flood our social media feeds. At the same time, many Londoners work daily to welcome neighbours from all faiths and beliefs. London’s diverse and vibrant population powers over 24,000 voluntary organisations. That is about one for every 360 Londoners. Many of these organisations are local community projects which draw on their faith or belief as motivation for their community work.
On the 27th of November, 3FF hosted an Evening of Faith Recognition and Celebration. The event recognised the vital work of local communities in making London a welcoming place for people of all faiths and beliefs. The awards were sponsored by The Exilarch’s Foundation and Amersi Foundation, and the event was supported by Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London’s Council on Faith.
72 local projects received awards for their services to and for faith communities in London. These projects demonstrate how Londoners from all faiths and beliefs can work together for a fairer and more inclusive city.
For details about each project, please visit the websites of these organisations.
The 40 award winners were recognised for their work in four different categories.
London’s neighbourhoods are multi-faith spaces where people with different faiths and beliefs share the same public services and spaces. These effective local projects create community hubs open to all. Lunch clubs, night shelters, and food banks become places where neighbours work together to make people from every background feel welcome and at home. Working at the neighbourhood level, these projects identify people who need support and work over time to connect them to life-saving public services offered by local council and larger charities.
London’s churches, mosques, synagogues and temples provide social connection and belonging in local communities for people from each faith group. When these places of worship open their doors to serve people from all faiths and beliefs, they extend hospitality to the entire local community. These projects mobilise volunteers from faith groups, helping them to live out their faith by helping others. In the process, it increases these groups’ own sense of belonging in London. Some of these projects have been operating for decades, offering connection, advice and support on a weekly basis to their communities. These projects represent the best of London’s faith communities, providing an example for others to follow in making our places of worship into inclusive spaces of hospitality.
All the awarded projects reduce social isolation and improve the quality of life of Londoners. These projects have created specialised support for the health and wellbeing of Londoners. Local groups offer drop-in centres for vulnerable people with mental health issues, and for refugees and asylum seekers. Other projects offer specialised health and wellbeing services drawing on their own expertise: support for isolated people in Barnet, interfaith nutrition classes in Woolwich, housing and counselling for women vulnerable to trafficking in King’s Cross, one-on-one counselling for Muslim women in Tower Hamlets, support groups for long-term carers, and accredited counselling programmes for religious leaders in Wandsworth. These effective local projects also work as connectors, referring people in need to specialised services offered by local councils and larger charities.
These projects started small and local, but over time they have established specialised services which extend belonging to faith and belief groups who are often overlooked and excluded. They teach employable skills to young people and connect them with opportunities beyond their neighbourhoods, advocate for better media coverage of faith groups, educate the public about London’s history of migration, provide classes for newly arrived families settling into life in London, offer effective housing solutions to the homeless, and provide key support to people suffering financial trouble in burying their loved ones. These projects represent the power of local groups to build effective social services from the ground up.
32 additional projects were recognised for their services to and for faith and belief communities in Greater London.