Upcoming events

Extremism eventHow can our multifaith society respond to increasing religious and political extremism?  A talk by Sayed Ali Abbas Razawi on Sunday 14 September 3-5pm at Corpus Christi Church Hall, Trent Road, Brixton, SW2 5BJ.

Mainly for Islington people (but ask Roz Miller if you are interested in attending from another borough), Islington Faiths Forum is holding a conference with Islington Council and Police – Making Islington Safer Together on Wednesday 17 September 10am – 3.30pm in the Council Chamber, Islington Town Hall.  Download the flyer here.

Not in London, but featuring several friends of LBFN, the Inter Faith Network for the UK‘s National Meeting in Birmingham on Monday 29 September 10.15am – 3pm.

Speakers include Acharya Modgala Duguid of Islington Faiths Forum, Angharad Thain of St Ethelburga’s, Jon Dal Din of Westminster Interfaith, Revd Daniel Otieno Ndale of Hillingdon Inter Faith Network and Phil Rosenberg of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and formerly of Faiths Forum for London.  The National Meeting is open to everyone** open to member organisations – download the programme here and the registration form here.  The theme this year is “Tough to talk?”.

Christian_Muslim_Forum_LogoThe Christian Muslim Forum is holding Lunchtime Dialogues at St Joseph’s Hospice, Mare Street, Hackney, E8 4SA at 12-1.30pm on 2 October.

On 25 October 10am – 4pm, there is an Interfaith Community Event at Trinity at Bowes Methodist Centre in partnership with Oakthorpe Turkish School, Palmerston Road, Enfield, N22 8RA.  Download the flyer here.

And don’t forget our own Peace-Building in the 21st Century on Monday 15 September at St Ethelburga’s and the next LBFN meeting on 23 September in Camden, looking at how our local work is supported and funded.

** Thanks to Bessie White for correction below – only open to members of IFN UK, so if your faith forum isn’t yet a member, consider applying this year!

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New Scotland Yard

MPS Engagement Tsar Cdr Mak Chishty

New MPS Engagement Tsar Cdr Mak Chishty

LBFN’s Crime, Community Safety and Security social lab had an excellent and wide-ranging exchange with the new Commander for Engagement in the Metropolitan Police Service, Mak Chishty, on Monday 7 July.

Contributions from Islington, Hounslow, Enfield, Lambeth, Kingston, Harrow, Tower Hamlets, Redbridge and Merton showed the range of good work undertaken by local faith forums in engaging with the police.  They also highlighted the challenges in sustaining relationships over time.

Commander Chishty shared with us his initial thoughts on engagement and the work already underway, which includes local mapping, a listening campaign, special summer events and borough engagement plans.  His SHINE approach encourages relaxed and informal relationships to develop between police officers and the public.

With the change from the Metropolitan Police Authority’s Community-Police Engagement Groups to the Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime’s Safer Neighbourhood Boards, there is some uncertainty over structures to support engagement.  Progress seems to be uneven across London.

LBFN members were asked to contact their Borough Commanders (details for each borough here) to initiate conversations which will lead to the inclusion of religious communities in the new borough engagement plans.  The emphasis was on sustained relationships with multifaith groups, churches, mosques, temples, synagogues and gurdwaras, which all offer strong social networks, local knowledge, expertise and organisational memory.

LBFN's Crime, Community Safety and Security social lab at New Scotland Yard.

LBFN’s Crime, Community Safety and Security social lab at New Scotland Yard.

People from seven religious traditions took part.  We will organise a follow up meeting in due course.

Mental Health & Poverty | 26 March | Islington Faiths Forum

IFF best practiceIslington Faiths Forum is holding a best practice conference on Wednesday 26 March 9.30am – 3.30pm at Islington Town Hall. The topic is one which affects many in our communities: mental health and poverty.  The day will be practical, informative and inspiring.  If you are interested in developing and supporting work in your own borough on poverty and mental health, IFF would be happy to hear from you.

IFF’s events always bring a wide range of people together from local religious communities, from public agencies and from academic and research bodies. Participation is free and lunch is included.

Download the programme and flyer to pass on to your networks and apply to Roz Miller rosalind.miller8@btinternet.com if you would like to attend.  Roz will also be saying a few words at our next LBFN meeting on 11 March.

Reflections | LBFN’s February meeting

Samovar1

John Woodhouse kindly lent us this beautiful samovar from Moscow for our Tea in Multifaith Europe in November.

We didn’t use the samovar last Thursday, but the London Church Leaders treated us to refreshments at Westminster Central Hall.

It was Elizabeth Simon’s last day as their Executive Officer and she shared her reflections over the last 14 years. You can read here her perceptive account of the relationship between faith communities in the capital and government policy – the ‘how’ as well as the ‘what’ – within a changing national and international context.

Further contributions led to a rich discussion on regeneration, consultation, engagement, integration, empowerment, commissioning and the community co-production of public services.  Wider thoughts on the enduring role of religious groups in social action were explored and how working in partnership with the local public sector can benefit the wider community, particularly those who depend on public services the most.  How do we work closely with the public sector on strategy and service delivery whilst maintaining our place in public life, contributing to the public conversation – faith in the public square?

Karen Walkden of Flourishing talked us through a mindmap analysing the trends for faith groups in 2013.  She highlighted how recent changes have made it difficult to be commissioned to provide services, “smaller organisations supporting specific communities can only get local authority funding if they are part of a consortium”.  She added further comments by email.

Steve Miller & Bessie White (centre) at one of last year's meetings.

Steve Miller & Bessie White (centre) at one of last year’s meetings.

Steve Miller of the Faith-based Regeneration Network looked at national government’s evolving attitude to religious and multireligious groups involved in social action in recent years – from ad hoc co-option of useful individuals to more formal consultations and instrumentalism.  Optimism over tackling social exclusion (New Deal for Communities, Neighbourhood Renewal) gave way to the fear of terrorism (Prevent), and the funding relationship has changed from grants to contracts and commissioning.  Whose agenda is it?

WCEN logoMalik Gul spoke from 10 years’ experience of deepening involvement with the NHS, police and the local council in Wandsworth.  Understanding how these systems work continues to be a significant task.  How can we tackle the failure to serve marginalised communities?  What makes it worthwhile for churches, mosques, temples, synagogues, gurdwaras to engage with public agencies?  What needs to happen in order to bring these extensive social networks closer to the statutory services and vice versa?  The co-production of public services (eg mental health) by local religious groups, locating them in places where people already are, has proved to be a successful prototype in Wandsworth.  But where is the space for the conversations which lead to change and improvement?

merton_partnershipEvereth Willis and Eshaan Akbar described how the Local Strategic Partnership in Merton (many LSPs have disappeared in London) brings religious groups into strategic decision-making.  Merton’s commitment to community groups is high and the Community Plan will be co-written by the Inter Faith Forum’s Chair.  Food banks, services for the homeless and end of life care were mentioned, recognising the huge social capital contained within religious communities.

IFFLogoMarch07Roz Miller of Islington Faiths Forum told us about IFF’s expanding partnership work with the local council and NHS on poverty and mental health (Best Practice and Networking Conference 20th March).  Working with public agencies at a strategic level was the key, she said, and maintaining good relationships not only with local officers but with local councillors.  But she is sometimes disappointed by their small and tentative vision for, for example, care in the community.  A fully complementary role for faith communities could be immensely productive and reach those who need services the most, but often they are patronised and offered a small role.

Dr John Maiden and Gavin Moorhead described their Building on History work – how learning from the past can lead to a better future – and invited expressions of interest in being part of the project.  They are looking for local religious and multifaith groups which would like to examine their histories and heritages – a great opportunity for those who get involved.  Find out more here and contact Gavin for further details.

oulogo-56LBFN’s advisory group is looking at a possible partnership with Haider Ali of the Open University to tell the story of the network and its members over the last 10 years.  We will also consider some form of registration and public accountability; as a purely informal group we are not able to join, for example, the Inter Faith Network for the UK or the European Network on Religion and Belief.

IFN UK has asked LBFN’s convener to contribute to its Strategic Review.  Many of you may well have contributed, but if you have any thoughts about IFN’s future in relation to London’s local religious and multifaith groups and their relationship to the public sector, please let me know so that I can include them in my response.

cmfThe Christian Muslim Forum is looking for a few individuals in Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Southwark, Lambeth, Brent and Wandsworth to have a light lunch together in each of the boroughs.  Over lunch (provided), they will use Conversations of the Soul as a way of understanding each other’s communities and to build stronger relationships across the Christian-Muslim boundary.  It is hoped that some of the participants will be from the local authority, police or NHS – people whose work involves engaging local faith communities and who can use a lunch-break to widen their circle of contacts in an enjoyable way.   Let me know if you are interested, or contact the CMF direct.

Leave a comment below or send me any further reflections.

Mental health and poverty | Islington Faiths Forum

IFF-mental-health-flyer-v2 (2)Islington Faiths Forum is working with Islington Public Health and London Catalyst and invites us all to this excellent event on Wednesday 20th March 9.30am – 3.30pm entitled Best Pratice and Networking Conference: Mental Health and Poverty.

Details are on the flyer above and programme, which is downloadable from the IFF website.  Contact Roz Miller if you would like to attend.

Next LBFN meeting

The next LBFN meeting will take place at 2pm on Thursday 28th February at Emmanuel Room, Central Hall Westminster, Storey’s Gate, SW1H 9NH. We are grateful to Elizabeth Simon of the London Church Leaders for kindly hosting our meeting, which will look back over significant changes in context since LBFN started 10 years ago.

We will be hearing from Elizabeth and also from

  • Steve Miller, Faith-based Regeneration Network – changes in government policy
  • Karen Walkden, Flourishing, Barnet – trends for 2013: local religious and multifaith organisations
  • Malik Gul, Wandsworth Community Empowerment Network – community co-production of public services
  • Roz Miller, Islington Faiths Forum – partnership working on common concerns
  • Eshaan Akbar and Evereth Willis, Merton Council – LSP: voluntary sector/partnerships, equalities/cohesion

Gavin Moorhead and John Maiden will be giving us advance information on the Building on History project. We will also be meeting intern Tara Thiyagarajan for the first time.

Please join us for this starry line-up and an unrivalled exchange of experience and expertise across London. Let me know by 26th February if you are planning to come.

Lord Indarjit Singh speaks at Islington Faiths Forum

The keynote speaker at this year’s Islington Faiths Forum Lecture is Lord Indarjit Singh CBE.

He will speak on “The Relevance of Religion Today” at 6pm to 8.30pm on Wednesday 28th March at The Council Chamber, Islington Town Hall, Upper Street, London N1.  The Leader of Islington Council and the Chair of Islington Faiths Forum will also be on the panel.  Booking and further information on the flyer.