Hope in the Community is a registered charity established to provide an umbrella of support for faith and voluntary sector groups who are seeking to regenerate the communities within which they serve.
Background and Rationale
The unique nature of the faith sector is now being recognised in national thinking about regenerating communities. The faith sector offers:
core values reflecting a commitment to hope, based on life and human relationships as a precious gift, and a perseverance to overcome injustice and exclusion;
a holistic approach to communities and their concerns, holding together wide ranging views and activities;
a close connection with local people and communities, through the network of locally-based faith communities, drawing on local energy and reflecting local needs and concerns;
the potential for accessing the extensive resources of the sector, including buildings, partnerships (with schools, for example), and a huge number of members;
experience in social engagement at all levels, often informally, in all areas – urban, rural and suburban – with a range of resources such as the Church Urban Fund;
a number of regional bodies already in existence (such as the South East of England Faith Forum, and the North East Regional Commission) which can be used as building blocks for a national framework.
The faith sector has been hampered by a number of issues, which Hope in the Community seeks to address:
the local nature of the sector results in many diverse and small groups, individually lacking the expertise or access to resources;
the lack of understanding (which comes from a mainly informal and people-based way of working) about criteria, funding targets and outputs;
the lack of information and frameworks for developing partnerships – although this is changing significantly.
The aim of Hope in the Community is to develop the involvement of the faith sector, in partnership with the voluntary sector, as part of a national strategy.
This aim will be realised by creating, under its banner, a network of support teams in each English Region for access by churches, faith groups and the voluntary sector, building on existing work whenever possible and utilising and developing existing key players.
Hope in the Community will:
encourage both newly-formed and existing faith community and voluntary sector networks to:
network good practice;
research possible funding sources from local, national and European sources;
offer support for bringing together partnerships, writing business plans, submitting bids, and monitoring projects;
offer ongoing support in areas such as payroll and accounting;
provide opportunities for strategic and regional initiatives, including offering a framework for funding streams;
evaluate successful bids and identify and encourage best practice.
This approach will build on the local energy and commitment of the faith sector while addressing its often fragmented and diverse nature. It will build on the experience of the voluntary sector by encouraging partnership working wherever possible.
It provides a robust but light structure, reducing the administrative burden for its clients throughout the project process, by using existing networks, organisations and previous experience wherever possible.