The Government has today announced a £5 million grant to help bring people who are near neighbours together. Those living in communities that are diverse are encouraged to get to know each other better, build relationships and collaborate together on initiatives that will improve their local community.
To deliver the Near Neighbours programme, the Church Urban Fund and the Church of England are setting up a new charity providing national oversight, called Near Neighbours, who will administer the scheme. Locally, the programme will make use of the parish network of the Diocese of Leicester, and administer the programme through the St Philip’s Centre (other parts of the programme will focus on centres in Bradford, Birmingham and London).
Near Neighbours has two key objectives:
- social interaction – to develop positive relationships in multi-faith areas
- social action – to encourage people of different faiths, or no faith, to come together to act for the improvement of their local neighbourhood
The programme will see grants from £250-£5,000 being made available to groups from the Christian faith and other faiths, and those from no faith, who meet the programmes objectives in bringing people together to build relationships and strengthen local communities. The first grants will be released towards the end of 2011.
In announcing the programme in a press release today, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, said “religious organisations play an enormous pastoral role in our neighbourhoods and have excellent networks within our communities – no more so than the Church of England… Near Neighbours will build on this and bring folks from different backgrounds together for the good of the community that surrounds them – be it a sports event or working together to improve a local park.’