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Community Cohesion: A New Agenda for Inter Faith Relations? – Inter Faith Network

June 30, 2017

Report on IFN’s 2002 National Meeting, with inputs from central and local government representatives on the nature and goals of the community cohesion agenda.

Report of the 2002 National Meeting, exploring the role of faith in the community cohesion agenda.

Of course, the Tories have made this term obsolete but it is still needed.

There are three key messages with which I want to begin. The first is that the Government wants to work proactively with all stakeholders to integrate community cohesion principles and philosophy within national policy and local service delivery. The second is that implementation of community cohesion affects, and needs to involve, all parts of society, not just central and local Government and statutory agencies but also the private sector, the voluntary sector and the wider community. In other words, everyone. The third is that community cohesion is inextricably linked to issues of social inclusion/exclusion and race equality, but extends beyond these to encompass all the factors that can lead to our living “separate lives” in what have been called “fractured communities”.

how to counteract some of those myths such as the one that it is just refugees and Muslims that get council houses for example (a myth which comes up quite often in my own authority). The guidance looks at how the council can counter myths of this kind through its own paper which it puts out through each door in its area, but also in its work with local newspapers. The guidance is also about how local authorities can develop long term agreements between agencies and funding partners to ensure that everybody contributes to community cohesion, although the local authority has the role of leader in this. It looks, for example, at how local authorities can work with youth organisations to make sure there is a voice for young people in their area and that voice includes young people from faith communities and not just the brightest kids from school sixth forms.

local authorities have often had to make painful cuts in their budgets. This is because funding for local government from central government has been squeezed. She also recognised that a number of faith communities do not wish to apply for lottery funding and that it is important to take this into account in reviewing their access to funding.

tendency to pepper such top down approaches with politically correct references to “stakeholders”, “Islamaphobia”, “vision”, “deprivation”, and so on, to give them academic credibility, thus fogging the real issue of how to turn bad human behaviour into better human behaviour (This was Inderjit Singh who seems to fit in with and like the establishment without anyone rocking the boat)

I arrived in Britain in 1968 when the political climate for refugees and Asian people in particular was quite hostile. I can remember most vividly as a teenager being on the receiving end of much race hate and abuse not only from layabouts around town but, alas, from professional people as well. As an example I remember a doctor, with whom I wished to register, greeting me with a comment, “You Asians come to live off the state”. At that moment I was a fee-paying overseas student! She thereafter proceeded to try to register me, but needless to say I found another doctor. Furthermore, the reporting in the media was equally racist, harsh and hostile, like it is today, about asylum-seekers, refugee and immigration issues and I read with fear as a teenager, Enoch Powell’s rivers of blood speech.

Without adequate recognition and support, this kind of  community cohesion work from the faith groups and from others will not continue if the Government does not recognise, and the Home Office do not take on board, how important resources are. It is not about having two or three years funding. It is about having a long term strategy so that with local Government and with national Government, we can succeed in building a slightly more secure place. (Correct – it was  Labour who effectively sut the funding.)

How do we bring into the curriculum, for example, the influence Islam had in the development of trigonometry, science and engineering? Reference could easily be made to the fact that we use 60 minutes in the hour and 60 degrees (180 degrees or 360 degrees) because of Islamic influences? If a mathematics teacher knows that, he can begin to use those examples to give children a different perspective. (This was by a clergyman ignorant of what actually goes on in schools).

It’s online here

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