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Interfaith project gets funding boost

07 March 2014


Everybody needs good neighbours: left to right: Eric Pickles MP, Archbishop Welby. and the Bishop of Birmingham

Everybody needs good neighbours: left to right: Eric Pickles MP, Archbishop Welby. and the Bishop of Birmingham

A PROGRAMME of the Church Urban Fund that funds interfaith community projects will be boosted by additional funding of £3 million, it was announced last week.

Near Neighbours, which was set up in 2011, is funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government. The money will allow it to expand into nine areas in the UK.

At an event in South London on Thursday last week, the Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles, said that the money was helping to transform neighbourhoods and improve the lives of those who live there.

Some of the projects funded by Near Neighbours include a youth football team in Newham, East London, a cross-community music programme in Oldham, and a community garden created by school children in Leicester.

In the Rockingham Centre, where the announcement was made, women from Anglican, Methodist, Buddhist, and various Muslim backgrounds have been meeting together to improve community relations.

A member of the Rockingham women's group, Nafees Jehan, said: "We meet every month - we do sewing activities, visiting museums, learning and discussing about each other's faiths. I enjoy meeting the Christian community and visiting churches, and I'm looking forward to helping other ladies who have language problems or are isolated in their homes."

Another Near Neighbours-funded programme in the area is a joint prayer group of Muslims and Christians, often from Nigerian backgrounds, co-ordinated by members of St Peter's, Walworth, and the Old Kent Road Mosque.

Among the new areas to be covered by the additional funding are Luton, Nottingham, Leeds, and West and North London.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, speaking at the event last week, said: "Speaking from experience, getting money out of Government, even for really good things, is like pulling teeth. But on this occasion it's been the reverse.

"One of the biggest characteristics of Jesus was not being frightened about who he talked to. We need to recognise how important Near Neighbours is and how it shows us what can be done. It under-promises and over-achieves."

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