Living God's Love Values - Generosity, Joy, Imagination and Courage
Living God's Love Values - Generosity, Joy, Imagination and Courage

Luton included in Near Neighbours’ £1.8m grants

Starting this week (20 July), Luton’s communities will share £1.8 million in small grants over two years, being made available by Church Urban Fund’s Near Neighbours programme. Around £140,000 is available for Luton.

Grants between £250 and £5,000 are available, providing seed capital for local groups and organisations who are working to bring together neighbours and to develop relationships across diverse faith and ethnic groups to help them make a positive and lasting impact in their local communities.

The grants will be especially effective where there are different faith and ethnic communities living close to each other where all too often lives are parallel but separate and where there is therefore room to improve the interaction between individuals and their communities.

The grants programme was launched in Luton at an event hosted jointly by Grassroots and Near Neighbours attended by Stephen Williams, MP, Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Councillor Cllr Mohammed Farooq, The Rt Worshipful Mayor of Luton; The Rt Revd Richard Atkinson, Bishop of Bedford and representatives of Luton’s diverse civic, church and faith communities.
Among those attending were Zafar Khan, Chair of Luton Council of Faiths; Councillor Khtija Malik, Councillor Tafheen Sharif, The Revd David Kesterton, Catherine Aganoglu, Marian Biskupski, Lawrence Fagby, Nathubhai Solanki, Jaswinder Singh Nagra, Andrew Gale and many others.

The launch event heard about three projects where building relationships between neighbours from different backgrounds so that they can work for the common good is already bearing fruit.

These were, a community archery game, a picnic in the park with the launch of Dallow Downs Trail, and English Afternoon Teas, were all previous Near Neighbours funded pilot projects.Having previously been working in Bradford, Burnley, Oldham, Birmingham, Leicester and East London; the Near Neighbours programme has now expanded to also include Leeds, Dewsbury, Bury, Rochdale, The Black Country, Nottingham, West London and Luton.

This is a rolling programme with no deadlines but the second phase is due to run until March 2016 and the grants programme is expected to close near to this date. Near Neighbours aims to invest in a broad range of work including environmental, social, cultural, artistic and sporting ideas but they need to fulfil the programme’s criteria which include:

1) Creating Association. Encouraging stronger civil society in areas that are multi-religious and multi-ethnic by creating association, friendship and neighbourliness. The programme intends to bring together people of different faiths and of no faiths to transform local communities for the better.

2) Local and Sustainable. The programme aims to build association as deeply and sustainably as possible in local neighbourhood contexts. So a key criterion is that grants are spent in ways which bring together people from different ethnic and faith communities which impact specifically locally.

3) Transformative. Giving grants that positively impact and transform the neighbourhoods in which projects run. Regardless of what the particular activity is Near Neighbours want to see it transform the local neighbourhood for good.

The local co-ordinator for Luton is Kim Greig and she would like to hear from people interested in applying for grants or who want to find out more about the programme.
She said: “Community members can get involved in coming together to improve their neighbourhood, they can get to know their neighbours and build friendships, be creative with projects and share experiences of life in Luton. Contact me on near.neighbours_luton@btconnect.com or 07930601640

You can find out more from the Near Neigbours website at http://www.near-neighbours.org.uk or on Facebook and Twitter, simply search ‘Near Neighbours’.

See Photos of the launch: https://picasaweb.google.com/103387285750363504558/NearNeighboursLuton?noredirect=1#

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