• Advisory faith panel meets for the first time
  • Members to influence policy and decision-making
  • Enhanced voice will strengthen the contribution of faith communities to society

A new advisory panel that will give Greater Manchester’s faith communities an enhanced voice is to meet for the first time tomorrow (Wednesday 17 March).

Greater Manchester Faith Panel brings together existing faith networks and organisations into a new network aimed at providing them with more ability to influence decision-making across a wide range of policy areas.

Creating a faith and race equality panel was a pledge made by the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham at the Cohesion Summit in July 2019.

Following consultation with faith and racially diverse communities it was agreed to create two separate groups for faith and race equality, and the race equality panel was established earlier this year.

The faith panel is made up of interfaith organisations and groups that represent specific religions.

It will provide a unified, city region-wide voice on the major contribution that faith communities make to society in areas such as housing, education, health and wellbeing, social care and neighbourhood cohesion.

It complements the Mayor’s other advisory panels for young people, disabled people, LGBT+ people, women and girls, older people and race equality.

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said: “We have seen during the pandemic that faith groups have been among the first to step forward and support their neighbourhoods and communities through the emergency.

“Not only that, they have also provided support, comfort and solace during a time of great difficulty, sadness and stress. This is in spite of formal places of worship being largely closed or heavily restricted.

“Faith groups have done this because they have always played such a fundamental role in our communities – and they deserve a stronger voice. We should listen more and involve them more. That is what this panel is designed to achieve.”

Brenda Warrington, Greater Manchester leader for equalities, said: “Faith communities contribute in so many ways to the health and wellbeing of our society and neighbourhoods.

“Their support, hard work and care means the most vulnerable in our society are looked after, that our children grow up with the values of their faith and that people from all walks of life contribute positively to their community.

“Yet politicians often take faith communities for granted and do not actively seek out their voice.

“This panel will change that by providing a strong and clear voice in policy-making across all the areas we have influence on, from housing, health and schooling to community cohesion, tolerance and equality.”

Rabbi Warren Elf, of the Greater Manchester Interfaith Network, said: “Faith communities make a huge contribution to wider society.

“Think about what has been done in supporting homeless people, running food banks, in supporting refugees and recently in running information sessions on vaccinations.

“We also act as a society’s social conscience, in calling out what is unacceptable and holding people to account, we encourage people to take a wider view of parochial issues and we help people to respect each other as human beings.

“I hope this panel will allow us to build on that work so we can do more and do it better.”

Revd Canon Steve Williams, of the Greater Manchester Faith Community Leaders network, said: “People of faith contribute a great deal, but they sometimes feel left out and sometimes their views are not taken into account.

“I hope we will be able to reflect how decisions and policies may affect particular communities and faiths.

“We will work to bring a stronger and more involved voice, because we can help so much with the health and wellbeing of society.”

The panel will itself decide its detailed remit, membership and working methods over the coming months.

Organisations expected to join include:

Inter-Faith Organisations

  • Greater Manchester Faith Community Leaders
  • District inter-faith groups (from all ten boroughs)
  • Council of Christians and Jews
  • Muslim Jewish Forum for Greater Manchester
  • Hindu Jewish Association (for Manchester)

Specific faith communities

Baha’i Community

  • Local Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Manchester

Buddhist

  • Fo Guang Shan Manchester Temple

Christian Community

  • Greater Manchester Churches Together

Manchester Cathedral

  • Churches Network Movement for Recovery

Hindu Community

  • World Council of Hindus
  • Sangha

Humanist

  • Greater Manchester Humanists

Jain Community

  • Jain Samaj

Jewish Community

  • The Jewish Representative Council of Greater Manchester and Region
  • Jewish Strategic Group

Muslim Community

  • Greater Manchester Council of Mosques

Sikh Community

  • Singh Sabha (Central) Gurdwara
  • Sri Guru Gobind Singh Gurdwara

Article Published: 16/03/2021 11:38 AM