New £1m fund to help faith groups support their communities

(Photo: Unsplash/Joel Muniz)

The government has created a £1m fund to help faith groups capitalise on their achievements in supporting communities during lockdown.

The 'new deal' forms part of the government's plan to "build back better" after the pandemic. 

Announcing the fund, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said faith-based organisations had demonstrated their effectiveness in reaching those in need.

"From delivering food to front line workers and vulnerable members of society, supporting those who were lonely or isolated and helping vital information get to those who needed it most, faith groups have been instrumental in supporting communities throughout the pandemic," it said.

"Faith groups have used their trusted position at the heart of the communities they serve, innovating to overcome challenges quickly and utilising their already well-established volunteer networks.

"The funded projects will build on this good work, strengthening relationships between public bodies and faith groups by supporting faith-based initiatives to tackle social issues and boost Covid-19 recovery." 

Faith-based organisations will be able to bid for a share of the pilot fund to help finance community-focussed initiatives. 

Projects that will be benefit from the cash injection include those addressing food poverty, mental health, loneliness, and debt, and initiatives helping the unemployed get back into work. 

The fund has been created in response to two reports highlighting the work of faith groups during the pandemic both independently and in partnership with local authorities - one by Danny Kruger MP, 'Levelling up our communities: proposals for a new social covenant', and another from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Faith and Society. 

A second element of the fund is the development of a Faith Compact that will set out key principles to aid engagement between faith groups, national government, and local government.

Commenting on the launch of the fund, Faith Minister Lord Stephen Greenhalgh said: "Over the last 18 months, I have seen first-hand the outstanding work faith groups are doing to serve their communities.

"Their vital work has helped the most vulnerable members of society during the pandemic with crucial support and services.

"This new fund will draw on that wealth of experience and energy, for the benefit of all."