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With thanks to you, our members…

What a year it has been! Characterised nationally by division, faith groups the length and breadth of the country have, nevertheless, continued to serve our communities and individuals regardless of the colour of their politics, creed, or national heritage. As we have so often found, faith reaches the parts nothing else can – those who are lonely, isolated, or living in need are far more likely to find a place of belonging, a welcoming door, and a meal through contact with a person of faith or faith community.

It’s no different here at FaithAction: it’s important to us to be grounded, understanding first-hand the needs of the communities served by you, our network of 3000 members, ranging from Cornwall, through the Midlands, to as far north as the Shetlands. Your hard work enables us to walk the corridors of power at Westminster, bringing the voice of faith to influence the way that policy is devised.

In the world of health and wellbeing, we continue to work as a strategic partner in the VCSE Health and Wellbeing Alliance (HWA), established as a partnership to support a two-way flow of information between communities, the voluntary sectors, the health and care system, and Government’s policy leads. The HWA aim is to improve the health and wellbeing for all communities. HWA is jointly managed by the Department of Health and Social Care, Public Health England, and NHS England. FaithAction is one of 20 members that represent different communities across our society.

In education, this year has featured renewed funding from the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government for Creative English, empowering a further 3555 people with limited English language skills to be able to join in – because learning English should be fun! Over 12,000 people have now enjoyed classes full of warmth, laughter, and friendship since 2013. Many of you have partnered with us to enable this to happen – and we thank you for your contribution to raising the credible voice of faith in providing solutions that transform lives.

In research, July saw the release of our primary report for the year: Right Up Your Street: Faith’s response to loneliness. Highlighting just some of the ways that faith groups, like yours, are working to tackle loneliness and isolation, the report calls for more links between faith groups and other organisations to end the 21st century scourge of loneliness. Thank you to all of our members who contributed through the survey, phone calls, and case studies to the work.

In Westminster, FaithAction have provided the secretariat for the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Faith and Society. The APPG highlights the contribution to society by faith-based organisations, identifies best practice, and promotes understanding of the groups providing innovative solutions around the country.

So far, through the APPG, 13 local authorities, representing over 5 million people, have signed the Faith Covenant, which supports faith-based organisations to work with local authorities. Take a look to see whether your local authority has signed up yet – if they haven’t, give us a call to see how we can partner together to bring this change about!

Finally, our Faith Manifesto calls for this new post-election era to be one of decency. We want to see our new Government promote decency for the communities of the UK: harnessing the energy of faith-based assets in social prescribing; minding the gap in benefits; recognising the skills, experience and benefits of faith-based organisations, while resourcing them appropriately; intentionally looking to faith initiatives that tackle loneliness and isolation; and finally: uniting the UK, a priority for 2020.

About Elspeth Paisley

Head of Communications; Healthwatch Barking and Dagenham Manager; THIFF Manager

Elspeth is FaithAction’s Head of Communications, with over 15 years’ experience in project management and strategy in charity communications. She focuses on maximising the different methods of communication to highlight and profile messages of hope that bring solutions to people and policy. Elspeth is experienced in project and event management, social media, graphic design, marketing, PR and media. She also manages the Healthwatch Barking and Dagenham and Tower Hamlets Interfaith Forum contracts for FaithAction.