Christian, Muslim and Rastafarian organizations have been recognized for their “often unnoticed” community work at The Southwark Faith and Belief Awards (F&BF).
Local religious centers that have acted as youth schemes, food banks and advice centers were thanked at the ceremony held at Southwark Council’s offices, Tooley Street, on Thursday, September 22.
A mosque that disseminated Covid information and a church that distributed hundreds of food parcels during the pandemic were among the seven winning projects.
Southwark Mayor Sunil Chopra speaking at the ceremony
Jessica Hazrati from the Faith & Belief Forum said: “Having worked in the interfaith sector for over twenty years, we at F&BF have seen the power faith and belief communities have in transforming their communities for the better.
“This work that happens at the grassroots often goes unnoticed by wider society, due to the humility of those delivering the work but also sometimes due to incorrect assumptions about the role and influence of faith and belief in society.”
One winner was The Empowerment Group, operating from New Cross’ Cornerstone Church. It alleviates mental illness within the black and minority ethnic (BME) community by supporting access to “culturally trained” therapists.
Church Pastor Kunlé Oyedeji has since raised over £100,000 to employ fifteen therapists who provide one-to-one mental health support to hundreds of people.
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The Dulwich Islamic Center spread Covid-related information to its 300-plus strong online congregation every Friday during the pandemic.
Its spiritual leaders continue to provide reassurance and advice to families who have been bereaved or affected by Covid-19.
Growing Hope Brockley which gives free therapy to children across Lewisham and Southwark from St Peter’s Church, Brockley, also grabbed a prize.
Sharon O’Driscoll, Clinic Manager at Growing Hope Brockley, said: “We have the privilege of journeying with families and sharing hope with them even in the most difficult situations.
“We’re grateful for the Southwark Faith & Belief Awards which have encouraged us in celebrating the impact of the third sector on healthcare today.”
Kunlé Oyedeji, the Empowerment Group (left) and Mayor Sunil Chopra (right)
The Rastafari Movement UK’s Food & Well-Being Program set up a telephone helpline for isolated and vulnerable people who need emotional support or help accessing benefits or healthcare.
Amazing Grace Parish Community Project in Peckham, Love North Southwark in Bermondsey and the Southwark over 40s Football Club also received awards for their hard work.
This Faith & Belief Forum was made possible by the support of Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London’s Council on Faith and the City Bridge Trust.