Communities Secretary Eric Pickles today (21 November 2013) launched a new £200,000 grant programme, ‘Together in Service’ that will celebrate the practical contribution faith communities make to society through volunteering and motivate and inspire new multi-faith social action projects.
‘Together in Service’ will run for 2 years and will be delivered by FaithAction, a national network of faith based and community organisations. It builds on the success of the ‘A Year of Service’ programme held during 2012 to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
Like a ‘Year of Service’ it will be based around an ongoing calendar of faith-based volunteering around chosen themes relating to religious festivals or celebrations. Every month there will be a focus on the volunteering that the featured faith undertakes by itself, for example Harvest Festival, celebrated by the Christian faith or Mitzvah Day which is run by the Jewish community. The programme will then feature multi-faith projects, where the lead faith has joined up with other religions to deliver voluntary work.
A Together in Service fund provided by the Department for Communities and Local Government of £100,000 a year for 2 years is available in the form of small grants for multi-faith projects of £2,000 to help get local multi-faith projects off the ground.
Speaking at the launch at Westminster Cathedral Hall, Eric Pickles said:
Faith groups are united in their desire to make things better for the good of the whole community. Volunteers tirelessly dedicate millions of hours each year to strengthen our society from the simple acts of kindness such as visiting the elderly, to collecting for the needy or helping to clear up the local park.
Our faiths, our community and our society are stronger by far when they join up and Together in Service will not only strengthen the existing work carried out by faith groups but will encourage people of all faiths and none to roll up their sleeves and get stuck into wider volunteering.
Eric Pickles interacting with the Peaced Together stall, which looks at the process of restoration and hope.
Faith and Communities Minister Baroness Warsi said:
Faith is so often the basis for good deeds, it influences, it inspires, it impels at every turn and reaches areas of need that government often cannot.
Our churches, synagogues, temples, gurdwaras and mosques are at the forefront of volunteering and social action, reaching out to their wider communities to deliver real and positive change.
Together in Service will celebrate the practical contribution that the legions of selfless volunteers make to society and I am looking forward to seeing and hearing about the exciting events taking place up and down the country next year.
Daniel Singleton, National Executive Director of FaithAction, said:
At FaithAction, we are always keen to support the practical outworking of faith, seeing communities mobilised, and working towards a common goal. Through Together in Service, we are looking forward to funding this type of activity and to continue highlighting it on a national level. Together in Service gives all of us who that believe faith makes a positive difference a further opportunity to celebrate, support and champion the good work faith communities do day in, day out throughout the UK.
The programme will be supported by a ‘fellowship’ of active volunteers who will be provided with training, information and wider support to new and existing organisations. This can inspire them to deliver multi-faith volunteering projects, while building on the enthusiasm generated as part of last year’s ‘A Year of Service’.
Today’s launch falls within Inter Faith Week 2013 which is led by the Inter Faith Network for the UK. The week promotes local and national inter faith activity, to build understanding between faith groups and those without religious beliefs, and celebrate what faith groups contribute to neighbourhoods and to wider society.
‘Together in Service’ is one of a number of projects the Department for Communities and Local Government is funding to bring people together from different backgrounds and help build stronger communities in partnership with businesses, voluntary organisations and communities themselves.
For more information on Together in Service including the online calendar of events and details on how to apply for small grant funding please see the Together in Service website and on Twitter.
See more information on the projects DCLG is funding to bring people together from different backgrounds and help build stronger communities projects.