New initiatives brings together faiths of the East of England

Published: 18 May 2006 at 10:11

A database that brings together information on thousands of faith groups in the East of England, and a new project to assist faiths in their vital work in serving the wider community, are launched today [18 May] in Cambridge.

Research commissioned last year by the East of England Faiths Council indicated the major contribution of faiths to life in the region; worshipping groups provide community services ranging from skills training to shelters for the homeless, worth over £30 million a year. It also highlighted the desire of faith groups to do more to meet the needs of people of all faiths or none, and the constraints that held them back, from lack of funds to the requirement to adapt premises.

FaithNetEast is a new project established by the Faiths Council in collaboration with Anglia Ruskin University to address some of these issues and unlock the potential of faith groups to make an even greater contribution.  It will provide the opportunity for faith groups to come together through events covering topics such as assessment of local need; securing and training volunteers, and accessing funding ands partnerships.  There will also be regular newsletters and electronic bulletins, and two pilot projects will be assisted by a development worker to generate ideas and guidance for others.

Launching the initiative, Maqsood Ahmed of the Home Office Cohesion and Faiths Unit said:

“Faith plays a vital part in our society. It is a source of identity and a force for cohesion. Ministers will do everything possible to ensure that faiths can engage in a positive dialogue with each other and the Government.”

“The faith database comprises information on groups from the nine major faiths across the region willing to be in the public domain,”

explains Dr Adam Dinham of Anglia Ruskin, who has masterminded the project.

“It will allow people to search by faith and location, and will be extended by further work over the coming year. It also represents the first stage of the wider FaithNetEast project, which is being supported by the Home Office's Faith Communities Capacity Building Fund.”

Ellis Weinberger, co-chair of the East of England Faiths Council, adds:

“Our research showed that on generally faith groups start new projects in response to a perceived need close to home. But there are many reasons why much-needed projects may struggle to get off the ground.”

“FaithNetEast will start to address some of these problems, and will help people get the support and advice they need in order to do more if they want to. As far as we know, no other English region has set up a project quite like this, and we therefore also hope that this initiative will prove useful nationally, as a pilot.”

“The launch of this initiative is particularly timely in that it coincides with the Archbishop of Canterbury's address to the House of Lords tomorrow [19 May], when he will initiate a debate to draw attention to the role of the churches in civic life, and the part they play in addressing deprivation,”

concludes Dr Dinham.

Those wishing to find out more, be registered on the database or become part of FaithNetEast can access the web site on or contact Dr Adam Dinham on 0845 196 2557.