A new training programme is being rolled out by the Government to 'empower' Britain's faith leaders in meeting the changing needs of their congregations.
The Faith Leader Training programme has been developed in consultation with the leaders of various faiths and denominations and is being launched on the back of the Government's March 2018 Integrated Communities Strategy green paper, which laid down its vision for a united Britain.
The Government said it wanted the training to be 'constructive, relevant and meaningful' for faith leaders and give them the tools to be 'confident' in supporting their congregations and signposting them to professional services.
Over 300 faith leaders are initially set to take part in the programme, which will teach them how to identify issues like domestic and sexual abuse in their congregations, as well as mental health concerns.
The programme will also update them on the latest equalities legislation and UK marriage law, faith minister Lord Bourne confirmed on Friday.
He said: 'Faith ministers are the heart and soul of our communities, acting as role models and leaders and providing support and guidance to their congregations.
'Our Faith Leader Training programme recognises this central role and will ensure they are able to better support their congregations.'
He added: 'It is the first-step as we follow our commitment in the Integrated Communities Strategy green paper to support and listen to our faith communities.'
Andrew Davies, Director of the Edward Cadbury Centre for the Public Understanding of Religion, which is implementing the programme on behalf of the Government, said, 'Great leadership can have a transformative effect upon an organisation. Our faith communities are doing amazing work up and down the country and one of the reasons for this is the exceptional dedication, vision and passion of their leaders.
'This training initiative will support them in their continued pursuit of excellence and help ensure that our faith leaders are confident in engaging with some of our pressing social challenges, committed to the highest standards of governance and effective and fulfilled in their ministries.'