Decision Maker: Cabinet
Decision status: For Determination
Is Key decision?: Yes
Is subject to call in?: Yes
Report seeking approval of a council strategy for working with faith organisations
1. That it be noted that many of the values and ethos that underpin our faith organisations are shared with Southwark’s values such as treating every resident as if they are a member of your own family, and working for everyone to realise their own potential. This shared ethos offers a positive foundation for working closely together on the issues that matter most to both the council and faith organisations.
2. That the important role that many faith organisations play in shaping our neighbourhoods, promoting good community relations and supporting our residents be noted. In particular, Pecan provides a borough wide food bank, Robes project supports the homeless and Copplestone Centre which hosts the day centre for asylum seekers. In addition there are many smaller projects offering help and support to families, young people, and older people and quietly but steadily and consistently in times when many services have been forced to reduce the support they offer. We are thankful for the investment and commitment the variety of faith organisations make in our communities and the ways they already work together through a range of self supporting networks to achieve more.
3. That the following vision for our future relationship with faith organisations working in the borough be adopted:
We see Southwark as a place where the involvement of faith groups in the delivery of services and social action on an equal basis with other groups is welcomed, encouraged and supported. The voice, participation and solutions that faith communities bring are important, and our engagement with faith communities should enable them to deliver these benefits for everyone in the borough. We will achieve this through:
· Building relationships and trust with faith groups
· Ensuring that our faith communities and organisations are targeted in our engagement activities and that the experiences of faith group members and the challenges they face are considered in the development of services and policy
· Encouraging faith groups and their members to be involved in the reshaping and redesign of local services and places
· Developing partnership working to deliver key policies and delivery of improved outcomes for residents
· Supporting faith organisations to play an active role in the civic life of the borough through improved communication, and access to opportunities
· Sharing training and learning opportunities between faith communities and the council
· Providing equal treatment with non faith community and voluntary sector organisations in access to funding opportunities offered by the council.
4. That it be noted that improved communication is a key facilitator of breaking down the barriers to engagement and relationship building, accessing services for congregation members and supporting faith organisations to develop their social action projects. To address this, that it be agreed that the council hosts two conferences a year bringing together council staff, faith groups and community sector organisations to act together to deliver the vision.
5. That the council will work in ways that are respectful, patient, transparent, empathetic and open so we are able to foster better understanding. Ways of working should facilitate networking and relationship building and as equal partners. We will develop and work on shared agendas and continue to talk and to grow the breadth and depth of our relationships with communities of faith so we continue to involve a wider network of faith organisations and diversity of faith groups.
6. That it be agreed that the focus of our relationship with faith communities will be to work together to:
· Celebrate faith and diversity of faith organisations in the borough
· Support faith organisations and their approaches to supporting individuals who are a part of their congregations
· Improve the lives of Southwark residents,
· Support the council in delivery of key pieces of work,
· Improve the way in which the council is able to reach significant numbers of its residents,
· Ensure that the council is aware of the challenges that their worshippers face
· Support social integration and community cohesion in our neighbourhoods.
7. That paragraph 58 of the report be amended to request a report back in 6 months to cabinet.
Report author: Kevin Fenton
Publication date: 13/03/2019
Date of decision: 12/03/2019
Decided at meeting: 12/03/2019 - Cabinet
Effective from: 21/03/2019