Council plans to strengthen its links with faith communities

By Grainne Cuffe, Local Democracy Correspondent

A new plan has been developed to help strengthen links with faith communities in Southwark.

The faith strategy action plan includes the borough participating in an ‘inter-faith week and peace week’ and highlights a plan to “embed a culture of ‘faith navigators'” to improve signposting and referral to services.

“In increasing the knowledge and awareness of faith communities, residents can be helped and supported more quickly and effectively without being directed to the wrong departments.

“The sharing of information and intelligence at a neighborhood level through joint working can also help to improve outcomes for residents and support for families, especially those from migrant communities that faith communities are instrumental in providing support for,” according to the report.

Key to the strategy is ensuring the council responds to and is aware of challenges facing faith communities in Southwark.

This can be achieved by having health and well-being champions around areas “such as mental health, and sexual exploitation” as well as “improving the knowledge and awareness of good safeguarding practices”.

“This also delivers an opportunity for faith communities to become more widely connected with wider groups such as the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), SLaM and colleagues working on serious youth violence, child criminal exploitation and child sexual exploitation,” according to the report.

The strategy aims to ensure the council is also aware of issues such as housing, debt, food poverty, anti-social behaviour, educational achievement and homelessness in faith communities.

“The strategy also highlights three key areas of challenge when working with the council around the areas of planning, parking and premises.

“Faith communities also said that they need support around increasing their levels of understanding around funding, project management, governance and how to better support families particularly asylum seekers and migrants.

“We will work with faith communities to develop a better understanding of council policies and procedure and work to develop more innovative solutions around sharing available space and exploring other community assets,” according to the report.

The action plan is due to go to cabinet on Tuesday.

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