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Have you lost or found FAITH IN THE BIG SOCIETY? FAITH IN ACTION John Devine Churches’ Officer for the North West North West Forum of Faiths St Cuthbert’s.

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Presentation on theme: "Have you lost or found FAITH IN THE BIG SOCIETY? FAITH IN ACTION John Devine Churches’ Officer for the North West North West Forum of Faiths St Cuthbert’s."— Presentation transcript:

1 Have you lost or found FAITH IN THE BIG SOCIETY? FAITH IN ACTION John Devine Churches’ Officer for the North West North West Forum of Faiths St Cuthbert’s Church, Preston Friday 25 th March. 1

2 Reading the Zeitgeist Civil Society Social Capital Faith Dividend? Third Sector Delivery Big Society Cuts!!!!! 2

3 Where do we locate Faith? Equality and Diversity Faith as one of six strands Faith as code for BME & Race Any room for Christian Churches? Blurred distinction between faith based organisations and local worshipping communities. Most of the social capital is in the latter. 3

4 Bias against faith? In many cases faith groups... will be the strongest around and yet their potential may be overlooked by funders and others engaged in programmes of community development. There can be a tendency not to see beyond the ‘faith’ label to the community role of these groups. (Home Office, Policy Action Team on Community Self Help, 1999) 4

5 ‘Faith and Community : A good practice guide for local authorities’ (LGA, February, 2002) Councils must work with all sections of their local community, including the whole spectrum of the voluntary and community sector. Faith groups are an important part of that spectrum, although this fact has not always been recognised by public authorities, or indeed faith groups themselves (1.1) Faith communities may sometimes be the best means of reaching those in need within their faith community and sometimes those in the wider community. (3.2) It is therefore important to ensure that they are properly consulted in the development of local strategies and services. (1.2) 5

6 ‘Faith and Community : A good practice guide for local authorities’ (LGA, February, 2002) Most local authorities have some experience in the field of race relations and in dealing with equal opportunities issues, but the focus of this present publication is on religious identity rather than ethnic identity (1.5) Guidance makes clear that faith communities have a part to play in the relevant processes and structures, such as local strategic partnerships and Neighbourhood Management (4.7) If there is little or no religious diversity a relationship with the main faith community – likely to be the Christian church structure – will still be important. It will key into a faith community that plays a valuable role as a support and often a focal point for the life of local people (3.9) 6

7 ‘Faith and Community : A good practice guide for local authorities’ (LGA, February, 2002) Among the typical resources which faith communities and local inter-faith structures can offer as part of the voluntary and community sector are local networks, leadership and management capacity, buildings with potential community use, and volunteers. (3.4) It should not be assumed, however, that the necessary skills, knowledge and capacity are present in either all local faith communities or in public agencies. (4.7) Both central government and many local authorities now accept the validity and value of funding services and activities run by faith groups. Some will argue that this is justified only if the services and activities are open to all regardless of their faith. Others will argue that a service or activity, even if targeted at those within a faith community, can nevertheless be assessed in terms of its public and community benefit and a case for public funding can therefore be made. (5.1) 7

8 ‘Working Together: Co-operation between Government and Faith Communities’ Home Office, Faith Communities Unit, 2004 “Conversations with faith groups will now become a much more normal part of doing business in Britain, just as normal as consultation with business or trades unions. They will see that they have influence, otherwise why should they bother to put energy into doing it?” (Fiona Mactaggart, Home Office Junior Minister) “Recognise that capacity is a key issue and consider allocating resources to allow faith community bodies, which may lack infrastructure or resources, to participate fully in consultations.” 8

9 A new role for faith communities? Previous government may have appeared ambivalent on faith at times but there have always been opportunities to do business. Pockets of resistance to faith within some LA’s - postcode lottery Positive rhetoric from Coalition Govt on faith. What’s new in the Big Society for faith communities? As challenging to faith based organisations as to the rest of the voluntary sector Where’s the bacon? 9

10 ‘If it can’t be measured it doesn’t exist’ stories v statistics what is the added value faith brings? 10

11 Previous Research – Faith in England’s Northwest, 2003 100% survey of places of worship of 9 major world faiths 2001 census records religious identity of individuals 54% resp - 68.9% Sikh, 53% Jewish, 50% Baha’i, 43% Moslem, 39% Hindu No extrapolation! 11

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14 Faith as Social Capital presence matches population density strongest in areas of highest social need activities other than worship*** resource rich but cash poor strength in volunteers and buildings ready made network for service delivery 14

15 Economic Impact Assessment, 2005 £90.7m - £94.9m per annum Not including faith based organisations Nor schools (46% primary, 28% secondary in the NW) Nor procurement and employment (NHS?) 15

16 Faith in England’s Northwest: how faith communities contribute to social and economic well being (NWDA 2009) Based on research undertaken by the Change Institute for the Churches’ Officer for the North West Supported by the Northwest Regional Development Agency, the lead RDA on faith issues nationally 16

17 Purpose of this Research To examine in further detail: Why faith groups become involved in social action How their activity fits with wider public policy agendas Whether they bring anything distinctive How faith groups operate and their diversity of organisational structures The high levels of social capital that they generate AND To draw out key messages on the relationship between public bodies and faith groups 17

18 Twelve Case Studies Different faith backgrounds Different types of activity Different locations Large and small Research conducted by the Change Institute between December 2008 and February 2009 18

19 Individual Projects I Building Bridges Burnley: Inter-faith Better understanding between different faiths; celebrating diversity; promotion of social cohesion Catholic Children’s Society, Halton: Christian – mental health needs of children & young people In partnership with Halton Emotional Health & Wellbeing Partnership 19

20 Individual Projects II Cumbria Reducing Offending Partnership Trust (CROPT): Ecumenical Christian - Support for offenders in the community Reduce re-offending; employment skills ExChange Blackburn: Anglican/Muslim - Cathedral based Community cohesion through public dialogue, exhibitions, workshops & outreach activity 20

21 Individual Projects III Faiths4Change: Anglican/Multi-faith; Liverpool/Regional neighbourhood environmental projects; climate change & skills development Gujurat Hindu Society, Preston: Hindu; 2 nd largest in the UK Religious, cultural and social activity – facilities widely used by wider community & public agencies 21

22 Individual Projects IV Manchester Jewish Museum: Former Synagogue - Educational project Young people & adults learning about Jewish culture & social history Al-Hilal Community Project: Khizra Mosque, Cheetham Hill, M/C Needs of Muslim community; building bridges across faith communities 22

23 Individual Projects V Oaks House, Skelmersdale: Christian: new Anglican church in a deprived community Engagement with Surestart, schools and Skelmersdale Food Initiative Rainbow Haven, Manchester: Christian (URC) & East Manchester Community Association Working with individuals and communities at risk of social exclusion 23

24 Individual Projects VI Sikh Community Centre, Liverpool: Religious and social needs of Sikh community Partnership with statutory services & community outreach St Luke’s: The Art Project, Manchester: Christian (CofE) Artist in residence working with people with emotional & mental health needs 24

25 Organisational Characteristics I Volunteers ‘We are always wearing two hats, we all muck in with the day to day work of the centre’ Wider Institutional Structures: ability to call on contacts for information & expertise at a city-wide, regional or even national level Lack of hierarchy: ‘a big heart and an awful lot of passion, you can hear it, you can feel it’ – high levels of commitment & collective ownership enable greater responsiveness to emerging needs Charismatic Individuals: ‘I have so much respect for her...she will go down as a legend in Runcorn’ Management Boards: bring crucial knowledge of public structures and professional experience; reflect diversity but can perpetuate generation gap and be predominantly male led 25

26 Organisational Characteristics II Community Leadership: ‘If an issue is affecting the community then we will hold meetings with all sorts of personal networks and extended networks to other organisations too’ - well positioned to take on issues that raise apprehensions in wider society High trust levels from beneficiaries: ‘It’s a dream service and [I] wish everyone had a service like this’ Enduring commitment: their longstanding local presence gives credibility Sharing Public Policy Priorities: ‘We have effectively been doing Every Child Matters for years’ 26

27 Developing Social Capital? ‘We felt honoured that people came to the mosque and so they felt a responsibility to come to the Cathedral in return. Imams encouraged people at Friday prayers to go to the Cathedral. This would have been a big no-no in the past.’ ‘We trust people at this centre because we have been coming here for a long time. You get ‘himat’ (strength/confidence) from knowing there is a safe place to get help from. But not just any organisation, this is the one we have come to trust, not all temples are the same.’ ‘All social barriers are coming down whilst we are here. You wouldn’t normally see a little old lady talking to a Goth.’ ‘We’re not church goers but it didn’t really matter.’ 27

28 Is ‘faith’ a problem? Partners in local authorities or other public bodies clearly judged faith based projects on the service they give irrespective of their faith identity: ‘The way I look at it, they are a third sector organisation like any other group. It is a level playing field; faith doesn’t come into it. They never bring it into it and it is not mentioned in the contract. They are just there to achieve outcomes’ 28

29 What challenges are identified? As well as the challenges of capacity, resources, governance and management of volunteers common to all VCS organisations, faith groups face additional challenges. While the value of faith groups has been recognised by a number of government departments and agencies, this is not universally the case. Public bodies may be concerned about the motivations and values of faith groups; about potential proselytising or views that are out of line with public policy. 29

30 Challenges contd. Even where public bodies are linking with faith groups it may be in a very limited way, confined to particular topics instead of recognising the full breadth of their activities. Faith groups may fear either collusion with agendas they do not fully support or being overwhelmed or forced to compromise their standards if they enter into partnership or contractual relationships. The lack of ability on both sides to communicate with one another properly; they may use different vocabularies to express their aims and objectives; they may value different sorts of skills; they may have different ways of measuring success. 30

31 Conclusions Faith organisations represent a powerful community resource with a deep reach into communities, particularly to the most marginalised groups In order for their contribution to social and economic well being to move forward, public bodies need to recognise the contribution they make to a wide range of public policy outcomes and acknowledge them as legitimate partners Faith communities need to ensure they have effective representation within inter-faith groups in order to influence statutory bodies effectively and adopt a “service delivery” approach to working Where faith groups are working successfully with public bodies, the groups are seen as credible and valued partners who can develop constructive and long lasting working relationships 31

32 Why work with faith communities? Volunteers and Buildings Sustainability – motivation & stickability ‘ready made’ infrastructure for delivery to hard to reach Value for money 32

33 Challenges for faith communities? End of grant mentality Understanding partnership working Transparency, accountability & equality Capacity? Just getting used to this way of working when funding stops. Do we want to follow the funding? (Any willing provider?) Big Society = We are on our own? He who pays the piper calls the tune.... New models for survival? 33

34 New Ways of Working? ‘Local Lend a Hand’ –First Time Buyers Councils put 20% of price in bank account Funds will not go to the buyer Councils risk losing money if a buyer defaults but get a generous interest rate themselves ‘The Faiths in Social Finance Bonds’ 500 London faith community congregations give or commit a one off investment of £500 pa Lump sum, fundraising event, monthly s/o, Gift Aid etc Small grants to community bodies for projects onmental health, older people, vulnerable young adults 34

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