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Grassroots groups and projects across the country working to improve community relations are to benefit from £240,000 of new funding from the Near Neighbours scheme, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has announced

Near Neighbours is a highly successful programme that uses the parish infrastructure of the Church of England to bring together people from diverse communities and different faiths in challenging areas to get to know each other better, take action on local issues and help them transform their local neighbourhoods. As well as a small grants fund the programme includes training for community activists, youth leadership projects and clergy twinning schemes.

Luton now joins areas in East and South London, Leicester, Birmingham and the northern towns of Bradford, Burnley and Oldham that have already benefited from the programme since its launch in November last year. These social action projects already up and running are drawing on sport, social media and environmental issues to improve friendships and working relationships across faith boundaries. £60,000 of the funding will be dispersed through small grants to community projects in the Luton area.

As highlighted in the Government's 'Creating the conditions for integration' paper published last month, the Government is supporting people to play an active part in society, improve their local communities.

Eric Pickles said:

    "I am delighted to see communities taking up Near Neighbours with such enthusiasm. This is a real investment in our shared future and a big step towards achieving a more integrated society focusing on creating the conditions for everyone to live and work successfully alongside each other.

    "The Church of England is doing a great job supporting grassroots groups and working hard to ensure the success of Near Neighbours in bringing lasting change to local communities. We are determined to support areas such as Luton in their efforts to reduce community tensions."

The Near Neighbours charity was created by Church Urban Fund and the Archbishop's Council following the award of £5 million by the Department for Communities and Local Government in February 2011. It is administered by the Church Urban Fund. To date the programme has disbursed nearly £400,000 in small grants (£200 to £5,000) to over 100 locally generated projects made possible by £5 million funding from the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Written by Scott Buckler
Friday, 16 March 2012 15:03

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