News story

Launch of 800th project bringing communities together

Communities Minister Stephen Williams today (23 February 2015) joined the celebrations to mark the landmark 800th project launched to bring about lasting change to neighbourhoods.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Stephen Williams

Launched in 2011 in partnership with the Church Urban Fund, Near Neighbours provides small grants of between £250 and £5,000 to support grassroots groups and multi-faith community run projects. These offer a range of difference services - from mentoring through sport, to youth music programmes and area regeneration.

Since its launch, more than 281,000 people are estimated to have benefited from the programme.

The 800th grant is being awarded to the Larches Trust: Peace Tree Mosaic project, a Jewish led organisation that focuses on supporting people of all faiths with learning disabilities and autism.

Speaking at the Near Neighbours event in Brixton, Communities Minister Stephen Williams said:

Local people know their communities best, and using the existing structure of the Church of England, we’ve seen projects reach out across faith boundaries to ensure that everyone in the community benefits.

The hundreds of small grants that have been issued over the past 4 years through the Near Neighbours programme have united people from all backgrounds and helped local people improve their neighbourhoods.

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.

Near Neighbours grants were first targeted in 4 areas: the M62 “mill towns” of Bradford, Burnley, and Oldham; Leicester; and selected boroughs and wards in East London and Birmingham.

Last year the department boosted the fund by a further £3 million, to bring the total funding to £8 million and expansion to 9 new areas – Luton, Rochdale, Bury, Dewsbury, Leeds, Nottingham, North and West London and the Black Country.

The impact of these projects has been far reaching as:

  • 97% considered that their projects had developed relationships with neighbours from different religious backgrounds
  • 89% of those who have received Near Neighbours grants consider their projects to have led to a greater sense of togetherness or community spirit
Stephen Williams 1

Further information

More information about Near Neighbours and case studies available here.

Near Neighbours was set up in 2011 in partnership between the Church Urban Fund and the Archbishop’s Council and is funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

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Published 23 February 2015