Near Neighbours has supported the work of hundreds of local initiatives that are bringing communities together; to develop diverse relationships and to engage in work transforming their neighbourhoods for good.
West Smethwick Enterprise
West Smethwick Enterprise has used Near Neighbours funding to provide community celebrations to commemorate major faith festivals. They are celebrating the festivals of the four major faith communities in Smethwick; Sikhism, Islam, Christianity, and Hinduism.
West Smethwick Enterprise provides three pre-schools, four Stay and Play sessions, and family support in the most deprived areas of Sandwell. Around two hundred families originating from all corners of the world use their services. West Smethwick Enterprise acts to support young people’s development and also to understand and respect the values and beliefs of other people.
The first of the four faith celebrations that are being celebrated was Vaisakhi, which was a fantastic day for all involved. One member of staff commented, ‘it was so rewarding to see families from different faiths sharing and thoroughly enjoying this experience. The atmosphere has been wonderful.’ To read more about this Vaisakhi event, click here.
We funded a series of inter-faith Hebrew classes that have taken place in Prestwich. These classes have been a huge success with people gathering from across the area. These classes are attended primarily by Jewish and Christian participants. Organisers have told us that there has been a great atmosphere in these classes and participants have had the opportunity to enjoy a celebratory social event together on Palm Sunday, featuring some traditional Jewish food. The organisers are delighted to have achieved such success and are also really pleased to have had a local Rabbi as their teacher throughout these classes.
One of the organisers commented: “It was interesting to note that for quite a number of the Hebrew class participants, interfaith is a new experience: some will say that they had never had Christian/Jewish friends before. Well, they have those now!”
Pictures of Hebrew Classes by Lawrence Purcell
Luton Green Clear Day
In Luton Near Neighbours funded the clean-up of a local park. After doing a survey in the area, a group of inter-faith volunteers realised that the community would really benefit from the transformation of this neighbourhood space.
This group of volunteers went down to the park to tackle the issue head on. The volunteers, numbering around forty, did some litter picking, they cleaned down the park equipment, and they planted some seeds to take home to germinate. Throughout this experience there was plenty of opportunity for community members to forge new relationships and make their community stronger.
Nottingham Health and Education Support
We funded a series of Community and Family workshops in Nottingham aiming to breakdown some of the barriers in the community as well as enhancing a positive sense of community spirit. This was achieved through building relationships within the community between individuals of different faiths and backgrounds.
These workshops allowed adults to improve their skills in a number of areas including parenting, communication, team working, and confidence building.
Participants commented how great it has been to see different cultures and communities within the neighbourhood come together to share and learn from one another.
Craft and Conversation
Near Neighbours funded St John’s Church in Southall, West London, to run a series of ‘Craft and Conversation’ sessions with women from the area. These women were gathered from English language classes, to encourage intentional inter-faith and inter-cultural dialogue, while providing an opportunity to be creative and practice English speaking skills.
The course has included baking, painting, pottery, and jewellery making. One of the highlights of these sessions was a day trip to Kew Gardens where participants were able to practice their new-found skills.
Carolyn, the project lead who ran this course, commented that “The increased sense of community, closeness, and indeed ‘family’ has been unmistakeable; both in the ‘craft and conversation’ sessions, but also in the regular classes. People have learnt each other’s names, grown in confidence, expressed creativity, practiced their English and made friendships I believe will last a long time.”
Click here to see more pictures of Craft and Conversation in Southall.
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