Hope 2008 Interfaith Strategy confirmed.

Hope logoHope 2008 Interfaith Strategy confirmed. 

[1] Interfaith Strategy 5. Ms Celia Barlow (Hove) (Lab): What progress has been made in developing an interfaith strategy. [214839]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Mr. Parmjit Dhanda): The consultation on the interfaith strategy closed on 7 March. We plan to publish the strategy in July.

Ms Barlow: Is my hon. Friend aware of the work of Hope 2008, an organisation that supports the voluntary work of the Churches in Britain? Every year, churches, mosques, synagogues and temples perform a very valued service in the community, not least in my constituency of Hove and in Portslade. What will he be doing to support that valuable organisation’s work?

Mr. Dhanda:
I congratulate my hon. Friend on the work that she does in Hove, and she is right to say that Hope 2008 does excellent work, which underpins and is very much in tune with our work on an interfaith framework. We have adopted a phrase coined by the Chief Rabbi and believe that organisations should work face to face as well as side by side, in the sort of collaborative action supported by Hope 2008. As I said, we will unveil our interfaith strategy later this month and, alongside it, details of the multi-million pound pot that will support that work.

Mr. Gary Streeter (South-West Devon) (Con): But given what the Minister has just said about outcomes that faith groups can achieve, will he ensure that not only Government, but local government provide equal access for faith groups that care for some of the most vulnerable people in our community every day? Those groups often face prejudice when accessing resources and funds. Will he do something about that in the interfaith strategy?

Mr. Dhanda: The hon. Gentleman makes a fair point, and it is one that is made to me regularly by our Faith Communities Consultative Council. It has been very supportive of the work on the interfaith framework, and its ideas are being put into practice in the framework, as he will see in a few weeks. He is right to say that there is more that we can do with our faith communities. We are committed to that, and I have seen the very good work that they have done, not least during the floods last year—including in my constituency. The council has also been involved in planning for a possible flu pandemic and how we would approach such an emergency. The engine for that work was the faith communities in the first place. They have written reports and are working with us. When we publish the report, I hope that the hon. Gentleman will see that, like a stick of rock, it has their work, commitment and values running through it.


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