Civic leaders, community representatives and faith leaders will be gathering at Dewsbury Minster next Tuesday, September 30th for the launch of Near Neighbours, a community initiative started in Bradford with the backing of government and faiths, which is expanding to develop new projects in Dewsbury and Leeds. Dewsbury Minster will resound with the sound of samba drumming and peace songs, as the initiative is launched with more than a hundred people expected to attend.
The Near Neighbours programme aims to bring people together in communities that are religiously and ethnically diverse; so that they can get to know each other better, build relationships of trust and collaborate together on initiatives to improve the local communities they live in.
Now, thanks to new support from the Department of Communities and Local Government, the programme is expanding to Dewsbury and Leeds as well as other parts of the country with a total injection of £1.8 million. Grants of between £250 and £5,000 will be available to provide seed capital for community and faith groups and organisations based in Dewsbury, Leeds and Bradford who want to work to bring together neighbours of different ethnic and faith backgrounds so that they can get to know one another better and build relationships of trust.
Near Neighbours is a partnership between Church Urban Fund and the Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England. It is funded by the Department of Communities and Local Government, and works to support and equip diverse areas, to help local people act to build strong communities and transform neighbourhoods for good. The programme has awarded over 650 grants to projects across England since 2011 worth over £2m.
The launch of the Near Neighbours Programme in Dewsbury will take place on Tuesday September 30th between 12pm to 2.30pm at Dewsbury Minster. It will be attended by the Deputy Lord Lieutenant, the Lord Mayor of Kirklees, the Lord Mayor of Bradford as well as community leaders. Speakers will include Hilary Patel from the Department of Communities and Local Government, The Ven. Paul Hackwood Church Urban Fund, Bishop Tony Robinson, Elizabeth Carnelley Near Neighbours Director and Hilton Lori from the Jewish Representative Council and Nuzhat Ali Faith Advisor from Bradford.
More than a hundred community and faith representatives from Leeds, Dewsbury and Bradford are expected to attend. The event will provide an opportunity for people to hear different faith perspectives on what it means to be a good neighbour and to learn more about the near neighbours grants programme and how it can benefit local communities. They will learn about the Catalyst young leaders programme a dynamic initiative aimed at young people of faith between 18 - 30 years of age and finally people will have an opportunity to meet Wahida Shaffi, the local coordinator, national near neighbour programme partners and a variety of successful social action projects that have previously received near neighbours grants.
Children from Thornhill Junior and Infant School led by music teacher Peter Simon will be performing a series of multicultural peace songs and showcasing their samba drumming skills to help launch the programme with a bang.
A Near Neighbours surgery will be held at the Minster straight after the event between 2.30 pm and 3.30pm offering people the opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the programme from the local coordinator.
Elizabeth Carnelley, the Near Neighbours Director said "I am really excited that Near Neighbours is expanding its work in West Yorkshire from Bradford and Keighley into Dewsbury and Leeds. Having worked in Leeds and Dewsbury myself I know there is already some great work going on across communities there and I hope Near Neighbours will be able to resource that work, to deepen and extend it, as well as to encourage and initiate some new work and new partnerships. We want to bring people together across barriers of faith and ethnicity in order to help them to change their neighbourhoods for the better."
Canon Paul Hackwood, Executive Chair of Church Urban Fund said " Near Neighbours is proving highly successful in bringing communities together, reducing tension and addressing the needs that local people themselves decided were issues in their community. "