Headlines: November 15th, 2011

The Near Neighbours programme has been launched to help people within communities to get to know each other better and to help them to improve their local neighbourhoods.

The three-year Near Neighbours funded programme provides grants of between £250 and £5000 to grass roots groups in targeted geographical areas: M62 “mill towns” corridor (Bradford, Burnley, and Oldham); Leicester; and selected boroughs and wards in East London and Birmingham.

Near Neighbours is overseen by the Church Urban Fund. It builds on the good work already out there, recognising that small, local, faith groups know what works best and where money is needed most – often only a small sum – to bring about lasting benefits to their local neighbourhoods.

Each of the four areas has a centre with experience of working with different faith groups, removing the need for any additional red tape. The programme will fund them to undertake new inter faith work alongside partners such as the Christian Muslim Forum to cover the costs of Anglican clergy meeting imams and clergy of other faiths and sharing their experiences and expertise on residential courses. It will also help support a new generation of leaders and young activists – the people who want to make a difference in their community through practical help, such as getting graffiti cleaned up and gardens planted.

Funding has already been awarded to the Otley Road and Barkerend Environment Project in Bradford, an important space where local people can come together to appreciate and learn more about nature. Near Neighbours funding will support an inter faith, intergenerational group of local residents who will run projects around tree planting and recycling to improve their local area for the benefit of the whole community.