The Near Neighbours programme - that brings together diverse communities and different faiths through a range of activities - has been awarded an additional £1.5 million of funding, Baroness Williams of Trafford announced today (4 April 2016).
Using the infrastructure of the Church of England, Near Neighbours provides small grants and support to grassroots groups to help them run projects which bring about lasting benefits to neighbourhoods with significant religious diversity.
From teaching computer coding to girls in north London, setting up a pop up community café in Leeds to community gardening in Luton, the programme covers a broad range of activities across the arts, the environment and sport.
Since its launch, in 2011 over 1,100 projects have been established, benefiting 1 million people in some of England’s most diverse communities, including over 50% of projects offering new skills to the unemployed.
Communities Minister Baroness Williams said:
Local people are best placed to know how they want their neighbourhoods to improve and Near Neighbours has a great track record in encouraging individuals from different backgrounds, faiths and cultures to come together on the issues and concerns that are most important to them.
This new funding is a great boost to the important work Near Neighbours does to build stronger local ties, mutual understanding and respect to make our neighbourhoods even better places to live.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby said:
I am delighted that the government has provided Near Neighbours with the funding to start its third phase of work. The innovative, collaborative and inspiring work of Near Neighbours has enabled diverse local communities across the country to work and live together effectively, but more importantly, it has enabled community relationships and friendships to blossom.
As Christians we are preparing to celebrate Easter with its message of hope and reconciliation for all people. We are committed to working with others of faith or no faith to see the transformation and restoration of our local communities. It is this vitality that makes me excited for the future of Near Neighbours.
To date Near Neighbours partners have run over 1,000 events in local communities which have been attended by 60,000 people.