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BUILDING BRIDGES BLOG

FUNDING CRISIS IN THE INTERFAITH SECTOR

*DISCLAIMER: Once again, the setting for writing this blog was my tube ride home. I apologise for any grammatical errors; however, it strangely seems that the London Underground provides the best environment for my mind to question and comment on current happenings in the interfaith sector.

 

You might have reservations about the notion of a funding crisis in the UK's interfaith sector, but I urge you to read on and draw your own conclusions.

 

The situation is clear-cut: the need for interfaith services is rising, while government resources are diminishing. It's an alarming predicament that undermines the essence of our work.

 

Government funding for interfaith organisations is alarmingly scarce. The Inter Faith Network's recent struggle with significant funding cuts (leading to its closure) is just one instance of a broader trend affecting the sector. Other government-backed programmes like Near Neighbours and Strengthening Faith Institutions, once thriving interfaith initiatives, now struggle to maintain their effectiveness due to mounting financial constraints.

 

In contrast to SFI, Near Neighbours is technically an organisation, but you get my point! Despite their imperfections, these initiatives have undeniably fostered significant positive change for many years. I have personally heard testimonials from leaders and beneficiaries within faith institutions that champion the Near Neighbours Catalyst Programme, which seeks to empower young people in faith communities, while – at least when I worked on the SFI programme from 2019-2023 – Strengthening Faith Institutions regularly organised projects that connected faith communities while also providing vital safeguarding training and general governance support to thousands of Places of Worship across England. In recent times, the need for SFI’s work and safeguarding support in faith institutions has been further demonstrated by the distressing findings of the IICSA Report. However, their funding continues to be dramatically cut by the government.

 

Read my previous blog on the influence the Inter Faith Network on my personal interfaith journey.  HERE.

 

These funding cuts by the government continue, meanwhile, the urgency of interfaith work across the sector is clear. Evidence surrounds us, from media reports to social media discussions. These are challenging times, demanding a strong and robust response. However, key organisations and programmes that make up crucial aspects of the interfaith infrastructure in the UK are shrinking or worse – closing – due to the actions of this government with no clear plan or sign of an alternative taking their place.

 

While the title of this blog may seem dramatic, it raises crucial questions: how long can the sector endure without adequate government funding, and what are the consequences of this trend? Does interfaith work really matter to this government?

Jeeves Rohilla, CEO & Founder

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