On Monday 23rd February, Near Neighbours joined with faith, community, and political leaders to celebrate the award of our 800th grant. This gathering of people attended a ceremony in Lambeth Town Hall for a lunch time event that showcased the great work that Near Neighbours has achieved in collaboration with partners across England.
A blog by Tim Burton-Jones
Baroness Margaret Eaton, the Chair of the Near Neighbours Board of Trustees welcomed the gathered crowd and introduced them to the guest speakers, which included the Minister for Communities, Stephen Williams MP, Rt Rvd Christopher Chessun, Bishop of Southwark, and Rabbi Natan Levy, a leader on the Board of Deputies.
These leaders commended Near Neighbours for their work in bringing communities together and offered their support for the continued hard work of all involved in the Near Neighbours programme. Stephen Williams MP and Bishop Christopher then awarded a certificate to the recipient of the milestone 800th Grant, the Larches Trust.
The Larches Trust are a Jewish led community group working out of Barnet. Their work focuses heavily on working with individuals with autism and other learning difficulties. The Near Neighbours grant will enable them to create a peace tree mosaic to be installed in a public space. The mosaic will include contributions from groups and individuals from different faiths that will allow them to express sentiments of peace that are crucial to their faith
The resounding message from this event was that the work of Near Neighbours is becoming increasingly more important for our communities. Near Neighbours draws together local community, residential and faith based groups, enabling personal and community relationships across faith and ethnic boundaries to flourish. It combines the work of local networks and national expertise to support diverse neighbourhoods
This grant is the 800th that Near Neighbours has awarded through its small grant fund since its inception in 2011. In that time Near Neighbours has awarded £2.7 million worth of grants to local community groups. The outcome is that communities across England are being brought together; communities that once struggled to fully realise the potential of their diversity are now working together on matters of shared concern. Individuals of different faiths and ethnicities are forming lasting bonds of friendship as they engage in activities together that range from sharing a meal to cleaning their local community spaces.
Speaking at the event in Brixton, Stephen Williams MP commented that, “These fantastic projects have been met with a groundswell of support and have shown, once again, that religious organisations have an important role to play in neighbourhoods across the country.”
This event was a testament to the power that every local community harbours when united around a concern for the common good. It is a privilege for Near Neighbours to continue to work with these communities across England and to contribute to their flourishing.
Author: Mr Tim Burton-Jones
Date: 24 February 2015
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