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."