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The power of inter-faith partnership in Tower Hamlets

FaithAction have worked with Coventry University and Tower Hamlets Inter Faith Forum (THIFF) for the past three years.  We were pleased to recently commence another year working as secretariat to THIFF and wanted to highlight to our members the important work being done through this partnership.

THIFF represents faith communities from the London Borough of Tower Hamlets – one of the most diverse boroughs in the country, and home to many communities including the largest Bangladeshi community in the country. Seventy five percent of residents in the borough ascribe themselves to a faith, with a large Muslim and Christian community. The forum aims to highlight the contribution that faith groups make to lives of residents and how faith organisations can play a role in many different areas, such as the borough’s community planning, health and wellbeing and more. THIFF is part of the council’s newly formed Equalities Hub which coordinates work between groups that represent different protected characteristics.

THIFF holds bi-monthly forum meetings that are open to all, focusing on a different topic of local relevance each time. The meetings are planned with feedback from the local community and recent topics have included mental health, financial hardship and education. The forum has a long-standing relationship with the Metropolitan Police, who attend each meeting to report on hate crime statistics.

As with many faith-based groups, THIFF has been extremely busy throughout the pandemic and continues to play a key part in getting vital messages out into the community on issues such as guidance for places of worship and COVID-19 vaccinations. The forum has worked closely with the local public health team and the Mayor of Tower Hamlets, and relationships have strengthened with organisations such as Barts NHS Trust. The response of faith groups during the pandemic has demonstrated the importance of their work and these partnerships will continue to be built upon as we come out of the pandemic.

THIFF also supports a new project with FaithAction in partnership with East London Mosque, which provides all faith settings with essential COVID-19 supplies such as face coverings and hand sanitiser etc.  Projects such as this have further enhanced links with the public health team, who commissioned the project.

FaithAction also work to support the steering group of the forum – a group comprised of four dedicated faith leaders that are committed to making positive change for the people of Tower Hamlets. We support the group to plan their priorities for the year ahead, hold events, arrange meetings, run social media, produce newsletters,  grow connections with other local voluntary groups and generally ensure that the forum fulfils its contractual requirements.

Finally, we also produce a very popular faith calendar each year, which is distributed throughout the borough to places of worship, schools, hospitals, libraries and so on.  If you’d like a copy, it is also available online here.

We look forward to continuing to support THIFF as it continues to react to the needs of the community, reduce inequalities and help people come together to make Tower Hamlets a better place to be.

Read more about THIFF on their website – https://www.faithintowerhamlets.org/

Are you part of a local inter-faith forum that has been doing important work that you’d like to share with us? Or, could your Forum benefit from some administrative and strategic support? We would love to hear from you at [email protected] or 0800 804 8829.

About Jenny Hadgraft

Project Assistant

Jenny joined the administration team here at FaithAction as she wanted to be involved in an organisation that is focused on providing solutions for local people. Jenny provides the secretariat for one of FaithAction’s projects THIFF, the Tower Hamlets Inter Faith Forum. Jenny also supports other projects such as Connected Communities and our work with the Department of Health.