The Home Secretary has visited the largest gurdwara outside India to discuss the importance of tackling hate crime against Sikhs.
Amber Rudd met with Sikh leaders and community groups at Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara in Southall, London.
She heard about work underway to bring the community together to beat hatred as she met representatives from the gurdwara, local charities and the Sikh Council UK.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd said:
The Sikh community plays an important role in the diverse Britain that works for everyone and I was delighted to visit the Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara and hear about the important work taking place to unite the community.
Hate crime has absolutely no place in our society and it is vital we protect those who follow this peaceful religion. That is why I’ve made over £3 million available to protect places of worship and for community projects to combat hatred, and I’d urge all gurdwaras and Sikh groups to consider whether this funding could help them.
Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara plays an important role in the government’s Near Neighbours programme, which brings together people from different faiths and backgrounds in diverse areas so they can work together to improve their communities.
During the visit the Home Secretary met with representatives from the scheme and several women’s groups. She heard about the work being conducted by the Listening Project, who provide counselling for vulnerable women of different faiths, including Sikhs, and Ladies 4Tea, who help Somali women integrate with the local community.
Sikh Council UK Secretary General Gurmel Singh said:
The Sikh Council UK welcomes the visit by the Home Secretary to a landmark gurdwara in the heart of a diverse community. This was a great opportunity to see first-hand the Sikh ethos of self help and community cohesion in action. The Home Secretary’s commitment towards tackling hate crime and improving community cohesion is acknowledged, and the role faith can play in modern Britain is very well received by the community.
The Home Secretary’s latest engagement with the Sikh community comes after she co-hosted a roundtable for faith representatives with the Communities Secretary last month, with attendees including the Sikh Council and Lord Singh CBE from the Network of Sikh Organisations.
Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara Vice President Sohan Singh Sumra said:
It was a great pleasure to have the Home Secretary visit the Southall gurdwara. The way she spoke to us and listened to what we had to say was much appreciated. I am delighted to see the government engaging with the Sikh community and respecting the important contribution that we make to British life.
The Home Secretary published the Hate Crime Action Plan in July, which included measures to combat racial and religious hate crime. Alongside action to encourage greater reporting and tougher sentences, she announced £2.4 million that places of worship which are at risk of, or which have been victims of, hate crime can apply for to fund security measures such as CCTV or fences.
An additional £900,000 was made available for innovative community projects tackling hate crime. Nine schemes have already been awarded over £300,000.
The next round of bids for both of these funds will open in the spring.