Community Faiths' Forum (Online) - October
The Community Faiths’ Forum (CFF) was initially funded as a two-year pilot, through the Voluntary and Community Unit (VCU) of the Department for Social Development (DSD), and the first meeting was held in May 2010; it was open to all faith groups who sought to help disadvantaged, excluded, or marginalised people in local communities. At that time, the membership of the Forum included twenty representatives drawn from the various Christian traditions and five members from the Baha’i, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh faiths. The Forum met quarterly to work together on issues such as poverty, housing, community development, good relations, volunteering and community engagement. The Forum’s work was initially administered by the Churches’ Community Work Alliance (CCWA) NI, and included a research element, the sharing of best practice, learning from each other’s work and projects, and discernment of the best role faith communities could play in society, particularly against the backdrop of recession. However, in May 2016 the Churches Community Work Alliance ceased trading and work funded by the Department for Communities including the oversight of the CFF, transferred to NICVA as an integral part of the ongoing Regional Infrastructure Support Programme. In December 2019, the CFF finalised its terms of reference and representation has grown to over 40 organisations and individuals engaging in faith and belief-based community development.
The core aims of the Community Faiths’ Forum are:
- To develop an advocacy and influencing role, developing active engagement with government departments
- To consider if appropriate and take shared action on agreed social issues
- To learn, celebrate and explore faith spaces, the value of the sector and act as champions.
- To build relationships across the Voluntary and Community Sector, Department for Communities and other government departments and other relevant networks.
- To build and maintain good relationships based on mutual respect
- To encourage better understanding of each other’s faith
- To provide a forum for discussing matters of mutual concern and to provide a voice to express common concerns as and when appropriate
- To provide a forum that enables other bodies to consult with the different faith communities in our area
- To organise appropriate, inter-faith activities.