Faiths Working Together
Paul Southgate: Faiths Working Together
Collaborating in the North East to address the social issues of our time
Paul Southgate here highlights work by the Churches’ Regional Commission (CRC) in the North East whose main objective is to promote social action by churches and, increasingly, faiths working together.
CRC reports and publications illustrate that much of this happens ‘beneath the radar’. The work of CRC builds platforms for churches and faith groups together to express their voice on matters of mutual concern. This snapshot of CRC activity below shows how the CRC understands and fulfils its ecumenical ‘mission’ in the north east. Further details can be found on CRC's website which contains reports of these highlighted activities, and several projects which have been showcased in national and international publications.
MISSIONS AND MILESTONES 2005 – 2012
Undertaking the most comprehensive & accessible survey of faith groups, a web-based database to inform ecumenical strategy & research. This confirms and illustrates the impressive contribution of churches and faith groups to enhancing networks and social capital in the region. CRC funded research into pastoral needs of north east immigrants. First systematic study of activities offered by faith groups to young people to involve them in wider community. Published research on the role of faith representatives on Local Strategic Partnerships.
Engage with the marginalised
Organised events exploring housing regeneration & homelessness affecting Roma Gypsies & Travellers, returning offenders, affordable housing; organised ‘Starter Packs’ for new tenants. Vulnerable young homeless people. Founded Inter Faith Forum on the Resettlement of Offenders holding 5 conferences bringing together prisons & faith groups. Lead in negotiating with UK Border Agency for better reporting conditions for asylum seekers. Campaigned for asylum seekers’ right to work.
Involve faith in public life
Design & deliver “Engaging with Faith” learning programme to help faith communities & public bodies engage more effectively with each other.
Organise “Ethics Breakfast” seminars with local authority & faith groups addressing topical issues: riots, public morality, young people. ‘Question Time’ event for European Parliamentary candidates. Chaired Government Office Cohesion & Faiths Group. Published reports in partnership with local authorities ‘Faith in Sustainable Communities’. Consultancy role on Equalities legislation.
Minister to workers and economy
Leads industrial mission in the North East but supports chaplains of all sectors. Chairs Northumbrian Industrial Mission with 46 chaplains. Serves & supports Tees Valley Ministry. Preach at Workers Memorial Day. Chair Fair Trade seminar. Research Living Wage in partnership with Church Action on Poverty.
Focus on mission and community development
Key role in developing ‘Faith in Communities’ project helping churches in most deprived areas to respond to needs of local communities. Workshops on different models of community development used by churches. Contributed to Open Learning programme for churches.
Support wider voluntary sector by serving on VONNE Board. Big Society conferences, Community Organising workshops to unpack new Government’s key ideas. Co-founded NE Equalities Coalition. NE Regional Faiths Network, Co Durham Faiths Network, Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility. Churches’ Regional Network. UK Inter Faith Network. DepaulUK regional committee. Newcastle Conflict Resolution Network....
Build resilient communities
Action Research project in Walker and Jarrow focusing what helps make communities stronger or weaker. Resilience measure produced in partnership with local organisations and community groups. Proposals drafted relating to enhancing economic and social development in the future to ensure resilience and sustainability. Presentations at regional and international events and conferences.
Nurture compassionate communities
Faith advisor on Strategic Health Authority Regional Advisory Group. Organise public regional conference on ‘What is a good death?’ Deliver end-of-life care conference in Ukraine. Run workshops on how churches contribute to nurturing ‘compassionate communities’. Design ‘Faith in Sustainable Communities’ programme with Durham County Council on Health & Wellbeing.
Encourage active citizens: local and global exchanges
Bringing together faith groups from Tyneside & Ukraine to share experience of faith-based social action. Organised and delivered series of workshops in the North East involving churches and faith groups. CRC taking Lead role in North East Delegation visiting Ukraine.
Work together: ecumenically and interfaith
Jointly organised regional ecumenical events: Anti-Slavery, Environment, Big Society, Churches & Communities. Contributed to Churches Together in Britain and Ireland ‘Good Society’ research focusing on ‘What is a Good Society’ - published by CTBI. Developed & led regional, sub-regional & local multi faith networks, helping faith sector to play its full part in the region. Secured funding to support numerous multi faith projects.
© Paul Southgate