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GROUNDBREAKING REPORT WILL HELP COUNCILS BUILD BETTER RELATIONS WITH FAITH GROUPS

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A new report based on the experiences of councils and faith groups across the country will help overcome mispercept...
A new report based on the experiences of councils and faith groups across the country will help overcome misperceptions, publicise good practice and promote better community relations, leading organisations said today.

Launched by the LGA with the Inter Faith Network for the UK, home office and DTLR, the report, Faith and Community, says that councils need to work with faith groups not just to help local authorities reconnect with their local communities and promote cohesion, but to help them access the hard to reach and tackle deprivation more effectively.

By promoting examples of good practice and highlighting some of the common problems experienced by faith groups and their local authorities, such as confusion over funding eligibility, the authors believe that this, the first such comprehensive report of its kind to be produced in the UK, will prove a practical and long-term guide to building and maintaining good inter faith relations in every local community in the country.

Joe Abrams, member with religious portfolio, in the LGA's equalities executive, said: `Recent events reveal all too well the implications for the whole community when inter faith structures break down. As leaders in their local areas, councils have a unique role to play in encouraging and facilitating good relationships with and between different faith groups, and I believe this report will prove invaluable in helping them and their partners achieve this. The funding from the Home Office and the DTLR has enabled us to provide this report free and I would like to sincerely thank them for their vital and continued support for this work', he said.

Sally Keeble, minister for the DTLR, said: `Faith communities provide a set of core values and beliefs which strengthen our society. They also provide stability and continuity at times of crisis. But they need to be able to make best use of their energies in the wider community, and this is why the guidance issued today by the LGA is important.

`It will help local authorities and other statutory agencies to build links with faith communities so they can work together for the benefit of the whole community'.

Home office minister Angela Eagle said: `The way that local authorities and central government relate to faith communities is of crucial importance. This report and guide Faith and Community will be a valuable contribution to the development of good working relationships between local authorities and faith groups in their area. But government also needs to strengthen its policies. The home office is undertaking a review to make sure it can develop and maintain good links with faith communities across the country.'

NOTES

1) A copy of the report, Faith and Community, is available here.

2) The idea for this report started at a conference organised by the Inter Faith Network for the UK and the Inner Cities Religious Council of the DTLR in Birmingham in June 2000. Both of these bodies - and the Home Office Active Community Unit - have collaborated with the LGA in the writing of the report.

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