Near Neighbours, which is hosted in Luton by GRASSROOTS and coordinated by Kim Greig (pictured below), has awarded a landmark 1000th grant to Christians and Muslims who are creating a Peace Garden in Luton. This was celebrated at a special event at All Saint's Church in Luton on 27th October 2015.
The recipients of this milestone grant are running a project that sees local people of diverse faiths and none come together to work on a Peace Garden as a shared community space, and testament to their commitment to one another.
The garden will be in the grounds of All Saint’s Church, a local Anglican parish and will act as a spiritual space for the diverse community to share in contemplation. Alongside this, they are also establishing a community allotment that will lead to fresh and healthy food being made available for the community.
This landmark award means that Near Neighbours has now given over £3.4 million to local projects across England, through which more than 800,000 people have benefitted.
Husna Rasul is responsible for organising this project and commented, “We are so proud to be the 1000th grantee! This money means a lot to this community as we show our dedication to each other and to creating a positive environment for our families. But we are also aware that we are now a part of a wider movement of other projects and it’s a real privilege to be able to stand as representatives of all they have achieved.”
Near Neighbours acts to bring people together who are near neighbours in communities that are religiously and ethnically diverse, so that they can get to know each other better, build relationships of trust and collaborate together on initiatives that improve the local community they live in. This includes a small grants fund that supports initiatives, such as the Peace Garden (pictured below), that are working to bring people together for the good of local neighbourhoods.
Funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government, Near Neighbours is a partnership between the charity Church Urban Fund and the Archbishops Council of the Church of England, and has been running since 2011. Throughout that time Near Neighbours has been awarding grants to community based projects across England.
The Bishop of Bedford, Richard Atkinson (pictured below), took time to reflect on what Near Neighbours has achieved, “These 1000 grants reflect a new and creative way of doing community in our country that is both inspiring and transformative. It shows what can be achieved when people of different faiths work together for the common good. We’re very proud that we can host such a celebration in Luton!”
Communities Secretary, Greg Clark said: “Near Neighbours has made a real difference to peoples’ lives. From parents getting on in life and gaining qualifications together, to young people sharing recipes and eating together in cooking groups – across the country people from every faith and background have come together to form a community.
This 1000th project launched today in Luton is a great landmark, and I hope that the peace garden created here will become a community hub for many years to come.”
Liz Carnelley is the Near Neighbours Programme Director and commented that, “This project is emblematic of what we have seen through Near Neighbours in England in the last four years. It is a significant milestone in this neighbourhood that is now one amongst a thousand others that is transforming the face of local communities in our country.”