LifeLine Projects

LifeLine’s FaithAction wins contract to support local Faith Forum

We’re delighted that, in October this year, our FaithAction team was awarded an 18-month contract to provide support to the Faith Forum here in Barking and Dagenham. Andrew, from the FaithAction team, who will be working closely with the Forum, tells us more about the project.

Barking and Dagenham is one of London’s most deprived boroughs. It is undergoing a transformation, however, with Crossrail running through the north of the borough, a raft of new homes appearing to attract those looking for easy access into the city, and a brand-new film studio currently under construction.

The borough has also seen a massive transformation in its faith make-up, seeing large growth in the number of faith communities now meeting in the borough. Faith plays a tremendous role in the lives of many of its residents, with 74% noting some form of religious identity in the 2011 census.

The role that faith plays in the borough was demonstrated no more clearly than in the response to the COVID pandemic. Many faith groups joined the BD CAN initiative, a partnership between the local authority and VCFSE groups. This initiative provided food to those in need, collection services for essential medicines for those who were isolating or shielding, and befriending to those who had lost connection with their usual support networks. Many places of worship opened their doors as hubs for deliveries, and many people of faith volunteered their time to help make deliveries and phone calls to those most in need.

Our first event working in partnership with the Faith Forum, and the Forum’s first in-person event since the start of the pandemic, was a Faith Reception to celebrate Inter Faith Week. We were delighted to be joined by Deputy Leader of the Council, Cllr Saima Ashraf, who spoke about how proud she was of the response faith groups had made to a time of crisis. Attendees were also given the opportunity to tell us more about what they thought the priorities should be going forward.

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The Barking and Dagenham Faith Forum joins the Tower Hamlets Inter Faith Forum as local projects the FaithAction team has the great pleasure to work on. This gives us the opportunity to find out first-hand the exceptional work being taken on by faith groups, and helps us ground our policy work with real life examples of what challenges face many faith groups across the country. We as a team couldn’t be more proud to be helping the residents and faith groups of both Barking and Dagenham and Tower Hamlets, and working alongside the hard-working trustees and steering committee members to continue to highlight the role that faith can play in supporting the most vulnerable and in need.

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Andrew Welsby

Project Officer, FaithAction
Andrew is one of FaithAction’s Project Officers, leading on the Barking and Dagenham Faith Leaders Network, supporting local faith leaders delivering social action projects in their community. He also supports hubs on the Cafe Connect programme, helping new arrivals from Hong Kong.

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