In 1991 the world was in the midst of political, social and economic upheaval, and it was within this context that the GRASSROOTS Programme was born. Rooted in Christian faith, GRASSROOTS was a programme of community engagement founded by David Cowling and supported by the help of the Methodist Church and Christian Aid. It soon evolved into a network of different Christian Denominations, Organisations and Trusts. 

    David Cowling - the founder of GRASSROOTS 

    David Cowling - the founder of GRASSROOTS 

In its early days, GRASSROOTS acted as a resource for churches, by reassessing the meaning and relevance of the Christian faith, in the world’s struggles, with the help of Project Workers (called Mission Partners) who were invited from other parts of Europe and around the world. Mission Partners led and supported a wide range of projects such as:

  • Building Plural Communities in Europe
  • The Cutting Edge Project linking the Church with the community
  • Rags & Roses – a Community Development Programme in Marsh Farm
  • Renewal from the Roots – New Ways of Understanding the Bible
  • Changing Perspectives – A Development Awareness Project
  • Spirituality, Regeneration and Development
  • Justice Spirituality
  • Faith in Europe

This work was largely inspired by learning about and having encounters with people from other cultures, and the desire to become more culturally humble and understanding. So why not learn more from the many faiths and cultures at our own doorstep? In 1996, these experiences, which had sown the seeds of inter-faith engagement at GRASSROOTS, led to the creation of the Luton Inter Faith Forum (LIF) which was officially formed the next year. In 2001 this body became the Luton Council of Faiths, or LCoF, as it is still known as today. Since then, in partnership with LCoF and with support from Luton Borough Council, GRASSROOTS has engaged in a wide variety of projects including:

  • Hosting the British Council’s ‘Global Exchange Programme’ where Luton had young people from Egypt, Cambodia, Syria, the Philippines and Indonesia come to volunteer 
  • Developing the Inter Faith Pilgrimage, which evolved into the Faith Walk and is now known as Luton’s Annual Peace Walk 
  • Helping to transform many green spaces into Peace Gardens
  • Receiving many visitors from the UK and overseas for learning and cultural exchanges

As the work of GRASSROOTS continued to grow, the Spirituality of Justice project planted the seeds of the Making Luton a Fairtrade Town campaign in 2007, which flourished with the help of volunteers from across Luton’s faith communities. This support and engagement enabled Luton to become a Fairtrade Town in 2011, and soon after the Luton Fairtrade Steering Group received the accolade of Outstanding Achievement from the Fairtrade Foundation, in recognition of its unique campaigning style and successes.

 The Luton Fairtrade Steering Group and GRASSROOTS promoting Fairtrade in Luton

 The Luton Fairtrade Steering Group and GRASSROOTS promoting Fairtrade in Luton

Today this campaign continues, with an additional focus of promoting the use of environmentally friendly materials, the availability of fairly traded goods to purchase from GRASSROOTS, and the creation of bespoke Fairtrade Gift Hampers.

Between 2010 to 2013, GRASSROOTS developed the unique ‘Faith Woodlands Communities’ Project in partnership with the Luton & Bedford Councils of Faiths, Greensand Trust and the Forestry Commission, which facilitated the creation of nature trails, peace labyrinths and a range of activities in Maulden Woods, which many groups from the community began to utilise, putting people back in touch with nature. In the areas of Art and Culture, GRASSROOTS invited bands like Berakah (a professional band of Jewish, Christian and Muslim musicians) to Luton, holding multicultural evenings of sharing and celebration during One World Week, and presented local talent to hundreds of people who came to join its diverse programmes of events and initiatives. Sport was also utilised as a way of increasing engagement, with Interfaith Cricket Matches between Luton, Leicester, Bedford, Watford and St Albans being held, Interfaith football tournaments supported and then more recently, following the London 2012 Olympics, the development of a 4 year-long Community Archery Programme throughout the town, which proved to be highly successful and has left a legacy of two community archery clubs still running.

Working with Women Across Faiths and Cultures became a significant focus too, with events and initiatives taking place at a very grassroots level in partnership a women’s cooperative group called ‘Ghar Se Ghar’ (Hindi/Urdu words meaning Home to Home). From this stemmed many activities, including trips, workshops and a range of other events including its women-only event called ‘Precious Pearls’, taking place annually during International Women’s Week and which continues to grow in popularity.

       Precious Pearls attracts women from across different faith and cultural backgrounds 

       Precious Pearls attracts women from across different faith and cultural backgrounds 

As tensions and difficulties increased in the town with the activities of extremist groups from different backgrounds, GRASSROOTS started to deliver Cultural Awareness, Religion and Belief Awareness, and Diversity training programmes to bodies within Luton including Luton Borough Council, the Luton and Dunstable Hospital and the Bedfordshire Police. Interfaith and intercultural awareness remains a key consideration in much of the project work of GRASSROOTS, engaged so heavily in a community as richly diverse as Luton. 

As GRASSROOTS has developed a great deal of credibility over the years, it was selected to be one of the National Hubs for the Near Neighbours Programme, which has funded and supported numerous projects across Luton, helping to bring people together and break down barriers. This partnership has also developed the Catalyst Youth Leadership Programme which is being delivered in Luton, helping to engage with and train community leaders of tomorrow. 

  The next generation of Lutons community leaders completing the Catalyst Youth Leadership Programme

  The next generation of Lutons community leaders completing the Catalyst Youth Leadership Programme

GRASSROOTS has historically sought to engage with young people by facilitating Youth Conferences which help young people explore complex issues of identity and counter suspicion of ‘the other’ and fear of the unknown. One of GRASSROOTS’ most recent areas of work has been supporting Luton Council of Faiths continue its engagement with young people, delivering various projects in primary schools including the latest initiative which is the delivery of storytelling sessions from various faith traditions, to help empower our future generation at a young age with wisdom and cultural literacy.
 
This is just a very brief overview of the history of GRASSROOTS and how its work has led up to today, which would simply not be possible without the generous support of its volunteers, partners and funders. The future, as always, is unknown, but whilst society continues to encounter uncertainty, injustice and division, GRASSROOTS will strive to respond as it always has, and continue to offer ‘a different point of view’. 

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

Women & The Power of Words

GRASSROOTS is happy to announce that it's annual 'Precious Pearls' event will be taking place once again for International Women's Day, where you can:

  • Share the talents of Luton women 
  • Meet women from different backgrounds
  • Enjoy yourself with different cultural entertainment
  • Enjoy the refreshments provided!
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This event will take place on Thursday 8th March 2018 from 6:30pm - 8:30pm at High Town Methodist Church Hall, 47 High Town Road, Luton, Beds, LU2 0BW.

PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS IS A WOMENS ONLY EVENT

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For more information please contact Ghar se Ghar or GRASSROOTS:

  • Call 01582 416946  
  • Email gharseghar@btconnect.com
  • Download the poster here!
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AuthorGrassroots Luton

GRASSROOTS and the Luton Fairtrade Steering Group is now stocking tastefully created FAIRTRADE CHRISTMAS GIFT HAMPERS. Prices vary between £5-£10-£15-£20-£40.

Let us shop more ethically this Christmas, bearing in mind Fair Trade is NOT CHARITY but it is about JUSTICE AND FAIRNESS, giving people what they deserve. 

Astonishingly, despite producing 70% of the world's food, over half of the world's hungriest people are small producer farmers in third world countries. Purchasing their products in fair trade terms means they can have a better training, tools, education, health care and clean water.

We are also continuing to support LOCAL LUTON HONEY. 

Additionally, we now have an exciting new range of Gift Bag Sets for any occasion, and you can even come and make your own bespoke Fairtrade Christmas Hamper! 

Please click on the DOWNLOAD link to see our catalogue! 

Why not give a Fairtrade Christmas Hamper to your loved ones or a neighbour, and someone of a different faith sharing the Joy of Christmas?

For further enquiries or to purchase, please:

We also encourage you to please circulate these details to colleagues, friends or family who may also be interested. Thank you so much for your continued support of Fair Trade!

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

'Real People, Honest Talk' is a new strand of work for Near Neighbours (hosted in Luton by GRASSROOTS), that seeks to bring people together in conversation and action around topics of concern to people in a locality. It seeks to create a safe and open space where everyday people, not just ‘community leaders’, can be open and honest about their anxieties and aspirations, and see how community members can work together in addressing these concerns. 

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It consists of a series of 3 evenings of 90 minutes each, including food and refreshments. The 3 evenings will have a delivered format and a facilitator will be convening the evenings. 

  • Dates: 1st November, 22nd November & 6th December (All Wednesdays)
  • Time: 6:30pm to 8:00pm
  • Venue: Marjorie’s Kitchen, 48A High Town Road, Luton, LU2 0DE

Places MUST be booked in advance for catering and seating purposes. Please reserve your place by emailing near.neighbours_luton@btconnect.com or calling 01582 416946. 

(Parking is free after 6pm in Pay & Display Car Parks on Brunswick Street and Wenlock Street, which run parallel to High Town Road, where the venue is).

Download the poster for more info!

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

Presented by

BURY PARK BEECH HILL COUNCIL OF CHURCHES

Join us on Friday 24th November 2017 at 7pm for some Christmas festivities at Holy Ghost Parish Centre, Westbourne Road, Luton, LU4.

Great Food ~ Live Music ~ Entertainment ~ DJ

There will also be a Fairtrade stall selling a wonderful variety of Festive Goods. Tickets are only £10!

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For tickets or information contact Karen (Church Related Community Worker):

  • Call: 01582 967265 / 07957 450624
  • Email: crcwsmiles@hotmail.co.uk
  • Download: the poster here!

All proceeds towards the Bury Park Beech Hill Community Work Project

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

Join us for a magical multi-faith storytelling performance of wisdom drawn from many faith traditions presented by the Khayaal Theatre Company. Refreshments included! This will take place on:

Date: Friday 17th Nov 2017
Time: 18:30 - 20:30
Venue: High Town Methodist Church, 47 High Town Road, Luton, LU2 0BW.

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Places are limited and must be booked in advance by:

  • Calling us on 01582 416946
  • Emailing us at admingrassroots@btconnect.com
  • Downloading the flyer here!

Parking is available in Wenlock Street Car Park (LU2 0NN) behind the Church.

 

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

Earlier this summer Luton Council of Faiths (LCoF) launched a ‘Rebuilding Lives’ campaign to support those affected by the Grenfell Tower tragedy. The appeal, which has successfully raised £3000, has already helped 80 people, directly affected by the tragedy, to enjoy a fun day out at Wicksteed Park, bringing some relief, respite and recreation, to some of the families and children that were caught up in the disaster. 

Zafar Khan, Chair of LCoF explains that “Luton Council of Faiths has historically run campaigns to support those in need in response to different disasters around the world, but what happened at Grenfell Tower was so shocking and tragic that it was felt Luton could play some small role in helping those affected. Once again, the people of Luton from all faiths and backgrounds, and those of no particular faith affiliation, have come together and shown great generosity and compassion for their fellow man”. 

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The trip to Wicksteed Park included a visit to its theme park, time spent in it’s beautiful gardens, the opportunity for children to cook a free pizza lunch with their families and a memento from the gift shop to take away with them. Zafar added, “This trip would not have been possible without the help and support of Tracey Clarke, the Community Link Manager from Wicksteed Park, who ensured that families were given a warm and supportive welcome, and that the children had a day packed full of fun activities”.

The trip created many lasting happy memories for the families attending, with one family thanking “all of the staff for making the day special” and another noting that they “enjoyed every bit of the journey”. The biggest impact however was made on the children, one of whom said simply “I enjoyed today and it made me feel very special – it allowed me and my family to bond”. 

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The campaign was a collaboration between LCoF, GRASSROOTS, Angela Scarlett-Marshall (St Thomas’s Church in Stopsley) and Madit Grant (The Olive Tree Church), further supported by A to B Travel in Luton who kindly provided transport on the day, and volunteers from the SOS Bus, which acts as a point of help and refuge in the town centre on Friday and Saturday nights. 

Angela Scarlett-Marshall, the key initiator behind this appeal, joined volunteers accompanying the families and children on the day and said "The smiles on the faces of the children were so gratifying and showed us that this was the right thing to do. I really admire the generosity and contributions in cash or kind, of all donors and contributors, across faiths and cultures in Luton. It was a great day for those attending, made possible only by the kindness of the Luton community”.   

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Once the costs of the day trip had been taken out, the remaining sum of £1700 was presented to Sean Mendez, the Director of Solidarity Sports, on 13th September 2017 by Angela, Madit and David Jonathan (Director of Luton Council of Faiths). Sean movingly shared stories of both loss and bravery from some of the children they are working with, adding that “we are extremely grateful to the people of Luton for their kind donations. This will help us to continue our programme of activities and trips for those affected by this immense tragedy, and help bring a smile back to many saddened faces”.

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

Catalyst is a FREE, dynamic youth leadership programme for young people aged  16 - 26 which includes:

  • Certification, an enhanced CV and increased employability
  • Five days of high quality training (Friday, the final day, is only a 1/2 day!)
  • Access to experienced trainers and inspirational speakers
  • Practical skills and knowledge around confidence building, effective communication and leadership
  • Insight and understanding into intercultural differences, the media, citizenship, democracy and equality law
  • Opportunity to discuss and critically think about some of the most pressing issues of our time
  • Membership with Catalyst Futures and the chance of gaining a new qualification!
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The next course will run on Monday 23rd Oct 2017 to Friday 27th Oct 2017 but places are limited so book now!

For an application form or further information please:

Email near.neighbours_luton@btconnect.com 

Call 01582 416946

Download the application form here (to be completed and emailed back to the email address above) or promotional flyer!
 

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

Hope Church is looking for a community worker for High Town (where GRASSROOTS is based), someone who will be active in improving communication, supporting events and welcoming new residents to the area. A little more detail on each of these is provided by Hope Church as follows:

Communication – There are numerous communication networks, which connect the High Town community to events happening in the area and ultimately to each other. These include a ward wide newsletter, currently distributed twice a year and a website – hightownluton.com. These valuable resources have potential, which we hope you can help us realise.

Supporting Events – There are some specific community events, which need support (in particular the High Town Festival), which bring the whole community together creating a space where old friends can re-connect and new relationships can be formed across the community.

Welcome – We recognise the diverse and ever changing nature of the High Town population. We want to put special effort into connecting with those who have recently moved to the area, with a particular focus on refugees and asylum seekers, welcoming them to their new home and community, and enabling them to get stuck in with all they have to offer to their new neighbours.

You will need to:

  • work with local people and neighbourhood organisations – including people and groups with a diverse range of faiths and ethnicities;
  • facilitate grassroots community action;
  • participate in in-house training and support provided by Hope Church

Outline details:

  • Initially: 16 hours / week.
  • Salary: £10 ph
  • Closing date: 15th September 2017
  • Interviews: Friday 29th September 2017

The above information can be downloaded here. For more details or to apply please visit Hope Church's website.

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

Join us for the 21st Annual Peace Walk 2017 – an annual public demonstration of community solidarity to build a stronger Luton by fostering better understanding - on Saturday 23rd September 2017.

This year’s Peace Walk will begin with the launch of a new Peace Garden at High Town Methodist Church and will include a number of different events and activities throughout the afternoon. 

The Peace Walk will give you:

  • An opportunity to ask questions about different cultures and faith traditions
  • Meet new people and make new friends
  • Taste a variety of snacks along the way!

Please dress modestly and bring a scarf or head covering. 

SCHEDULE

  • 13:30    Gather at High Town Methodist Church (47 High Town Road, Luton, LU2 0BW)
  • 14:30    Visit Hope Church Luton (Villa Road, Luton, LU2 7NT)
  • 15:30    Visit Bury Park Jamia Mosque (21-27 Bury Park Road, Luton, LU1 1HB) 
  • 16:30    Finish at Guru Nanak Gurdwara (2a Dallow Road, Luton, LU1 1LY)

If you are driving, please consider parking at the Guru Nanak Gurdwara (address above) and walking to High Town Methodist Church for the start, or parking at the rear of High Town Methodist Church in Wenlock Street Car Park (LU2 0NN). 

If you are unable to walk there, please contact us so that we can arrange transportation for you. For more details please contact us on 01582 416946 or info@lutonfaiths.org

You can download the flyer here.

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

A new crowdfund is being launched to help deliver Catalyst, an exciting and innovative leadership programme in Luton, to help young people aged 16 to 26 from different backgrounds develop into positive role models. Catalyst aims to create a new generation of young leaders who have positive relationships with people of other faiths and ethnicities, and will go on to improve their local communities. The programme helps to develop confidence, skills and opportunities, and strengthens employment prospects for those who take part.

Near Neighbours, which is hosted in Luton at GRASSROOTS, designed Catalyst and has already supported 39 young people from Luton in completing it, some of whom have gone on to become Young Leaders for the US Embassy, work for their local MP's, study at Madrid University, set up a Syrian Kitchen and so much more. If you would like to support more young people in Luton having this opportunity or would like more information, please visit http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/catalyst-course-in-luton.  

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

Day Out in Wicksteed Park for the families and children affected by the Grenfell Tower fire

“Rebuilding Lives” has never been an event.
It is a process that continues after the initial shock and recovery.

This “Rebuilding Lives” campaign of LCoF (Luton Council of Faiths) and GRASSROOTS is to help people affected by the Grenfell Tower Fire Tragedy in West London. We have previously had “Rebuilding Lives” Fundraising Campaigns for:

1)    Tsunami victims and survivors in Galle, Sri Lanka (2004-05)
2)    Earthquake victims and survivors in Namnotta, Kashmir (2005-06)
3)    Flood victims and survivors in Pakistan (2010-11)
4)    Earthquake victims and survivors in Haiti and Chile (2010-11)
5)    Floods in Bosnia and Herzegovina (2014-15)

In every crisis, we have had people here in Luton, advising us on sending help. This time our colleagues and volunteers Angela Scarlett Marshall of St Thomas Church (Stopsley) and Madit Grant of The Olive Tree Church (Biscot), are proposing to organise a DAY OUT for the Grenfell Tower Fire survivors by end of August 2017.

This tragedy has been shocking and overwhelming but every time, people from all religions and ethnicities, and people of no particular faith affiliation in Luton, have responded generously. So, if you are able to help, you can do so in the following ways:

a)    BACS Transfer via Cooperative Bank – Account Number: 65066380 / Sort Code: 08-92-99
b)    Cheques payable to ‘Luton Council of Faiths’ sent to 47 High Town Road, Luton, LU2 0BW
(for both BACS transfers and cheques please add a reference stating ‘Grenfell’)
c)    Make a donation online at https://cafdonate.cafonline.org/6787
d)    Cash donations delivered at GRASSROOTS, 47 High Town Road, Luton, LU2 0BW
 (or call 01582 416946 and we can arrange collection)

As they say, every little helps!

For more details or press interviews please contact Angela Scarlett Marshall on 07908 759 004. Thank you for any support you can give. The above information can also be downloaded here.

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

We, the Luton Council of Faiths (LCoF), a voluntary body of Luton’s different faiths and cultures, are again deeply shocked following Sunday evening terror attack while Muslim worshipers were leaving the Ramadan prayer in the Finsbury Park area in London. It has caused numerous causalities and has left one dead.

We strongly condemn such vile, revengeful, barbaric and cowardly act which is fuelled by hate. Targeting people because of their faith is a betrayal of British values of tolerance, respect and kindness which is the foundational base of our society. “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind!” Hats off to the Imam who handled this difficult situation promptly and bravely protecting the perpetrator and handing him over to the Police despite he said he wanted to kill Muslims. In the eye of the storm, he stopped the cycle of violence and hate, while Muslim community has stayed calm and cooperated with the Police.

This attack coincided with Jo Cox MP’s first death anniversary. In Luton many of us were invited at Medina Mosque yesterday evening to celebrate her life remembering her famous quote “We are far more united and have more in common that which divides us”. This was followed by the breaking of fast with our Muslims friends. It is such continuous acts of kindness, friendship and mutual support that help us stay firm and resolute in stopping the forces of division. We need to nurture values and good character in our communities to combat extremism while staying vigilant.

We call upon authorities and media to deal with such matters justly. We also urge the government to apply the same determination to combat extremism, incitement to hate and radicalisation by far-right groups, who are openly spreading hate on social media and intentionally causing tensions and creating hate videos in front of the East London Mosque at a time when worshipers were preparing for prayers and busy in service to their neighbourhood following the tragic Grenfell Tower Fire.

With a rise of hate crime, Bedfordshire Police alongside other communities urges anyone who experiences racist, verbal or physical abuse to call 101 or 999 in an emergency. People can also report online via www.report-it.org.uk.

As Luton Council of Faiths, we therefore reaffirm our hope, pledge and strong resolve, to continue playing an active role in creating an environment of understanding and respect among the many religious and culturally diverse communities, locally and where possibly influencing globally. We continue to stay in solidarity. Too many lives have been lost - enough is enough!

You can download the full statement here.

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

We are pleased to announce that once again, we have a beautiful range of Eid Fairtrade Hampers available in the GRASSROOTS office. You can give an Eid Fairtrade Hamper to your loved ones or a neighbour, and why not surprise someone of a different faith (or none) so that they can share in the joy of Ramadan? You can choose one of our hampers or even make one of your own!

As we are aware, Fairtrade is not charity but it is about justice. Astonishingly, despite producing 70% of the world's food, over half of the world's hungriest people are small producer farmers in third world countries. Purchasing their products in fair trade terms means they can have a better training, tools, education, health care and clean water.

This year we also have Zaytoun Gift Boxes including Olive Oil, Dates, Za'atar and Pomegranate Soap, along with a wide selection of teas, lanterns, candles, chocolates, cups, Bedfordshire Honey and Kashmiri Saffron!

Please download our poster for more information including prices. Eid Mubarak!

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

The Near Neighbours programme offers small grants between £250 and £5,000, as seed funding for local groups and organisations who are working to bring together neighbours, to develop relationships across diverse faiths and ethnicities in order to improve their communities.

Grants have offered funding to a broad range of work; environmental, social, cultural, artistic, and sporting, that furthers the programme’s aims of encouraging social interaction and social action. 

Grants include the following criteria. Projects should:

  • Bring together peoples of two or more different faiths and/or ethnicities, to build friendships and develop relationships of trust.
  • Work locally. We want to see people who are living very locally (i.e. in the same street, estate or neighbourhood) come together.
  • Work sustainably. We want to see long term and natural relationships grow, that will last beyond the period of funding.
  • Work to improve the community. We want to see people working to make their communities a better place to live.
  • Involve diverse people in planning and implementation. People from more than one faith group and/or ethnicity are involved in planning and implementing the proposal.

Grants are now OPEN so if you would like to apply, please download the criteria and application form. The deadline for applications is 17th Nov 2017. If you need some inspiration, check out some of our past Luton projects here!

For more information about the Near Neighbours programme please contact Kim Greig on 07930 601640 or email near.neighbours-luton@btconnect.com.

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

We are deeply saddened for what has happened at London Bridge. This is yet another cowardly attack on innocent people. We offer our heartfelt condolences and support to the families and friends of those who died and those who have survived with the painful scars of threat and terror.

We also join with the rest of our nation, in commending the bravery, dedication and promptness of the Police and Emergency Services in ensuring the safety of all and that care is provided to the needy.

Zafar Khan, Chair, Luton Council of Faiths said:

"Horrendously shocking attack has taken place again. Our thoughts go out to the victims and their families. Such barbaric attack is sickening and has become a real cancer. This cannot carry on in the name of religion and is at complete odds to religious values. Life is sacred and violence has no place in a civilised society. The purpose of the perpetrators of this outrage is to divide our communities. We must keep standing shoulder to shoulder with each-other, and send a strong message of defiance to the extremists, that we will not be divided".

In its statement, the Co-Chairs of the Inter Faith Network (IFN) for the UK and Moderators of the IFN Faith Communities Forum, said:

"Two weekends from now the anniversary of the murder of the late Jo Cox MP by an extremist of a different kind will be marked by the Great Get Together. People around the UK will be coming together in their communities in a spirit of neighbourliness to highlight and celebrate what unites. Let us seize that moment to strengthen our bonds of friendship and create new relationships and to remember and affirm that we have, in her words, “far more in common with each other than things that divide us”. 

It is heartening that Luton Borough Council, in partnership with range of community organisations, including Luton Council of Faiths, is organising THIS IS LUTON FESTIVAL on Sat 10th June from 12-5pm in Wardown Park and on the same day in the same place, later from 7pm onwards, Big Iftar will be jointly held with The Great Get Together.

We encourage people to come together on 10th June anytime and share the true spirit of common humanity and Luton's community. Our 'being together' is the only way by which we can defeat the objectives of extremists. Whereas acts of hatred or scapegoating in view of such attacks, will be giving extremists an easy victory. 

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

Statement from Luton Borough Council:

Together with the town's faith communities, we have added our voices to the many millions around the world who strongly condemn last night’s attack at the Manchester Arena and offer their deepest sympathies to everyone affected by the tragedy.

llr Sian Timoney, Deputy Leader of Luton Council, said, "Together with all peace-loving people around the world we stand together with the families and friends of those brutally murdered and horrifically injured at Manchester Arena.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with them at this time of despair and grief. The fact that an occasion of fun and excitement for so many youngsters has been turned into a time of death and tragedy fills us with revulsion.

"Incidents such as this reinforce our need to speak out against hate, division and negativity. We continue to be proud of the hard work and commitment within our own communities who are endeavouring to live and work together in peace and harmony.

"In the midst of such barbarism we have seen and been moved by examples of courage and professionalism from the emergency services, as well as the generous outpouring of goodwill, practical support and defiance in the face of adversity from the people of Manchester.

"Their spirit demonstrates to the watching world that we are unbowed by those who seek to disrupt our values of peace and tolerance."

Rehana Faisal, representing both the Sunni and Luton Council of Mosques, said: "We are truly devastated by the senseless loss of lives in Manchester. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.

"Whilst all life is precious, the deliberate targeting of children and young people is cruel beyond words and measure.

"As the country unites in its grief today, we hope and pray for the courage and wisdom within our communities to continue to build peace and tolerance for all."

Zafar Khan, Luton Council of Faiths chair, said: "We are deeply pained, distressed and grieved by the terror attack in Manchester.

"We condemn this evil act in the strongest terms. Such ongoing barbaric and sickening attacks, specifically targeted at young people, have no justification and are cowardly acts.

"Terrorism is profoundly at odds with the values of our faith’s traditions and has no place in the fabric of our society. Such attacks are designed to continue to divide people.

"Our heartfelt condolences go to the victims and families affected and to the people of Manchester. We ask people in Luton and across the country to come and stand together.

"We will continue to defy darkness with the light of our unity. Let us watch out for each other's wellbeing and connect hearts and minds to strengthen our collective hope that lies in our shared humanity."

Rev Mike Jones, vicar of Luton, had this response to the terrible news from Manchester: "We are deeply shocked and saddened by what has happened in Manchester. Our hearts go out to the families experiencing loss and trauma at this time. We are praying for the city of Manchester.

"We need to prevent the terrible actions of a few polluting the society of many. The energy created by actions like this need to be channeled into creative and loving engagement, rather than acts of retaliation, retribution which result in a downward spiral of intolerance and violence."

Book of condolences
A book of condolences is now open in the main reception area of the Town Hall. Those wishing to sign an online version can do so by clicking this link.

Vigil
The Council, Luton Council of Faiths and the Sunni and Luton Council of Mosques have organised a vigil beside the War Memorial today (Tuesday 23) at 5.30pm and warmly invite residents to show their solidarity by attending.
 
The Union Jack is flying at half-mast above the Town Hall as a sign of respect.

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

GRASSROOTS is pleased to invite you to 'We Are...', a new workshop being held as part of the UBUNTU workshop series. This is being delivered in partnership with Luton Council of Faiths, Cultural Kinetics and Near Neighbours. Come and join us as we:

  • Identify ways in which we can work alongside others towards common goals and values 
  • Discuss how we can navigate the complexities of intercultural and interfaith collaboration
  • Share ways in which we can overcome moments of conflict and misunderstanding 
  • Listen to real life experiences of how we can successfully foster and maintain trust and discourse
  • Examine how we can work in solidarity to create a more cohesive and harmonious society

We Are... will be taking place (with refreshments!) on:

Date: Monday 22nd May 2017
Time: 6:30pm - 9:00pm
Venue: Hindu Mandir, Hereford Road, Luton, LU4 0PS

For more information or to book please contact us using the details below. Places are limited and so must be reserved in advance. Parking is available in the car park within the grounds. 

Email: admingrassroots@btconnect.com
Phone: 01582 416946
You can also download the poster here!

Posted
AuthorGrassroots Luton

GRASSROOTS is excited to announce the second of it's UBUNTU workshops: Listen - Speak - Learn - Understand. This is being delivered in partnership with Luton Council of Faiths, Cultural Kinetics and Near Neighbours. In light of ongoing challenges within society being exacerbated by Brexit and increases in Hate Crime across the country, there is a strong fear that many communities may feel increasingly isolated and so withdraw further into themselves. This new workshop will enable participants to:

  • Discuss how we can best connect with others from different faiths and cultures
  • Learn to listen without defending - and speak without offending
  • Look to understand and discover how to adapt our communication styles to avoid conflict more effectively
  • Identify how we can best respond in different situations to overcome differences and build bridges with others

The new workshop takes place (with refreshments!) on:

  • Date: Wednesday 26th April 2017
  • Time: 6:30pm - 9:00pm
  • Venue: Beech Hill Methodist Church, 385A Dunstable Road, Luton, Beds, LU4 8BY

For more information please contact us using the details below. Places are limited and so must be reserved in advance. Parking is available at the rear of the church. Please contact us via:

  • Email: admingrassroots@btconnect.com
  • Phone: 01582 416946

You can also download the poster here!

Posted
AuthorGrassroots Luton

STATEMENT FROM LUTON COUNCIL OF FAITHS (Dated 12th April 2017:

We, the Luton Council of Faiths (LCoF), a voluntary body of Luton’s different faiths and cultures, are deeply shocked by the Palm Sunday church bombings that killed 45 people in two cities in Egypt. We strongly condemn such act of barbarism, disrespect to the sanctity of a place of worship and attack on religious freedom.

In our world, increasingly being driven by hate and fear, on one hand it is distressing to see the intent of extremists to wage a sectarian war in Egypt by killing Christians but on the other hand it is heartening to note the heroic acts of Police Officers Ms Abdel-Aleem and Imad al-Rekaibi who died in the line of duty while preventing suicide bomber from entering the church in Alexandria. It is heartening to note the Muslim-Christian family solidarity and to see Muslims raising funding for victims and donating blood.

It is only such acts of kindness and mutual support that helps us stay firm and resolute in stopping the forces of division. We need to nurture values and good character in our communities to combat extremism while staying vigilant.  

Here in Luton, we saw hope when last month, following another cowardly terror attack on PC Keith Palmer and other innocent people in London Westminster, people from different cultural and faith backgrounds, had stood together in the Town Centre for a simple, hopeful and unmistakable message saying we stand together in solidarity to strengthen our collective hope that lies in our shared humanity.

As Luton Council of Faiths, we therefore reaffirm our hope, pledge and strong resolve, to continue playing an active role in creating an environment of understanding and respect amongst the many religious and culturally diverse communities, locally and where possibly influencing globally too.

We offer our heartfelt condolences to the families of those killed and injured in Egypt.

We call upon our Christian and Muslim brothers and sisters in Egypt to stand firm by the shared values and speak out against any violence by working together on the basis of our common values for increased understanding, cooperation and harmonious coexistence.

Download full statement here.

GRASSROOTS has also written to The Coptic Orthodox Church Centre UK which is based in Stevenage to also offer solidarity and support. This letter can be read here.

Posted
AuthorGrassroots Luton