United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination - States Parties Reports
This annex contains supplementary information on interfaith dialogue and partnership.
1. Launched in 2011, Near Neighbours uses the infrastructure of the Church of England to build productive working relationships between people of different faiths at local level in five key localities in England, thus maximising the impact of faith based social action and creating more integrated communities. It aims to bring people from different faith backgrounds (and of no faith) together to help improve their neighbourhoods around the country.
2. The Government has announced new funding which will enable projects to expand into further areas. Funding will further equip people with the skills, relationships and confidence, to improve their local communities, building on the achievements of phase one.
3. The Together in Service Fund is supported by the Government and administered by the charity FaithAction. Up to £300,000 is available over two years in small grants to facilitate new multi faith social action projects at the local level. The aim is to build understanding between faith groups and those without religious beliefs, and celebrate what faith groups contribute to neighbourhoods and to wider society.
4. Many Muslim organisations hold events around the country to coincide with Ramadan. This includes ‘Big Iftar’ events where Muslims break fast with neighbours from all walks of life and all faiths in order to engage with their local community. It is about inviting other communities in to experience and share the spirit of Ramadan. Multi-faith iftars can happen inside mosques, community centres, public places (subject to prior approval) and even hosted by Muslim families. Many Big Iftar events are taking place in high profile mosques in London, Leicester, Leeds and other cities.
5. The Scottish Government values our diverse faith communities and the important role they play in making Scotland the place we want it to be - a safer, stronger and more inclusive society where all can live in peace and realise their potential both as individuals and as members of wider society.
6. Scottish Government continues to work closely with organisations within the Jewish and Muslim communities, such as the Muslim Council of Scotland and the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities. Scottish Government Ministers engage frequently in bi-lateral meetings with these organisations and attend a variety of national and community based events as part of a programme of support, which shows a clear commitment to countering intolerance and promoting inclusion. Since 2014, Scottish Government ministers have undertaken over 50 public engagements with faith communities, fully recognising their positive contribution to Scotland’s civic life.
7. The Scottish Government has allocated funding of over £1,265,500 to faith projects over the period 2012-15 from the Equality Fund.
8. Interfaith Scotland and interfaith projects across Scotland bring together faith communities and create opportunities for interfaith and cross-cultural awareness and understanding. The Scottish Government funded Interfaith Scotland with £360,000 for 2012-15 to provide a range of services, including interfaith dialogue seminars and events, faith awareness training and interfaith resources and advice to local and national government and other private, voluntary and statutory bodies.
9. Faith in Community Scotland was established in 2005 as an anti-poverty organisation which supports local faith-based anti-poverty initiatives to develop and flourish. FiCS aims to increase the capacity of faith communities to engage with the public sector and other third sector providers to reduce inequality and promote equality, through the provision of information, training, networking and advice.
10. The Scottish Government has funded FiCS £300,476 (2013-2015) to fund its project Tackling Sectarianism Together which will contribute to tackling intra-Christian sectarianism in Scotland. The work focuses on local churches in vulnerable communities working together to develop a range of local activities which help build positive relationships across religious divides.
11. The Scottish Government provides funding to the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities to support the production of Minority Ethnic Matters Overview, a weekly digest aimed at informing minority ethnic communities about issues at the UK and Scottish Parliaments, media coverage, funding and training opportunities, consultations and publications; and an outreach project which makes contact and builds connections with isolated Jewish people throughout Scotland.
12. The Faith and Belief Scotland Project focused on local authority provision for people of faith and belief in terms of Public Sector Equality Duty requirements – including investigating any concerns and difficulties local authority face in their attempts to accommodate people of faith, and the perceived level of provision and inclusion by people of faith and belief.
13. The Welsh Government’s Faith Communities Forum meets twice a year and is attended by representatives of all the major faith groups in Wales. It is chaired by the First Minister with the Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty as deputy chair.
14. The Belfast Mela is one of the minority ethnic sector’s flagship events; an afternoon of world music events, cultural displays and world food. OFMDFM have a long record of supporting this both through the Minority Ethnic Development Fund and Ministerial involvement.
15. The Minority Ethnic Development Fund supports the following initiatives and groups:
• Ballymena Inter-Ethnic Forum
• Dialogue for Diversity
• South Belfast Roundtable
• African and Caribbean Support Organisation NI (ACSONI)
• An Munia Tober
• Armagh Travellers Support Group
• Ballymena Inter-Ethnic Forum
• Ballymoney Community Resource Centre
• Barnardo’s Tuar Ceatha
• Belfast Islamic Centre
• Bryson Intercultural
• Chinese Welfare Association
• Cookstown and Western Shores Area Network
• Craigavon Intercultural Programme
• Craigavon Travellers Support Committee
• GEMS NI
• Homeplus NI
• NICEM North West
• North Down YMCA
• North West Migrants Forum
• Omagh Ethnic Community Support Group
• South Belfast Roundtable
• The Welcome Project
• Wah Hep
• South Tyrone Empowerment Programme (STEP)
16. We are also developing a range of initiatives which will directly tackle race hate. These include resources that will show how much minority ethnic people contribute to society and challenge the dangerous myths that circulate. We will also work with influencers and community leaders in the areas where race hate attacks have been most prevalent and improve our capacity to target hot spots.
17. The Youth Justice Agency recently referred three young people under Agency supervision to the North East PEACE III Partnership Holocaust Education Programme. This programme used the history of the Holocaust as a learning tool to help the young people understand the dangers of holding extreme views and the effect this can have on others. It also explored the impact of racism and sectarianism in Northern Ireland and included a visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
18. YJA delivers and supports a variety of targeted interventions to address prejudicial attitudes; for example, through Craigavon Youth Engagement Programme, an intensive programme which links YJA staff with staff from PSNI and Craigavon Council to work with young people on a range of issues, including sectarianism and cultural identity.
19. In the past, YJA staff have linked with a variety of community groups to address offences with a hate element, explore sectarian attitudes and deal with contentious issues. These groups include Youthworks, YMCA, Community Restorative Justice, NI Alternatives and Derry Bytes.
20. The YJA has established an internal hate crime working group and is currently drafting a hate crime policy and staff guidelines. Much of this will formalise work already being carried out by frontline staff.
21. In Northern Ireland, the curriculum gives teachers flexibility over how they deliver the curriculum to meet pupils’ needs. The minimum to be taught is detailed in legislation as Areas of Learning and a number of these provide opportunities for schools to explore the Holocaust and related issues. A number of examples of the opportunities provided are detailed below.
• At Key Stage 2 there are opportunities within the areas of the World About Us and Personal Development and Mutual Understanding, for pupils to explore human rights and social responsibility, how people in the world interact and the causes of conflict and appropriate responses.
• At Key Stage 3, the Environment and Society Area of Learning includes history as a contributory element and the statutory Minimum Content for History requires opportunities to be provided for pupils to investigate the impact of significant events of the 20th Century on the world.
• The Local and Global Citizenship strand of the Learning for Life and Work Area of Learning also provides opportunities for pupils to explore issues relating to diversity in societies and investigate key human rights principles and local and global scenarios where human rights have been seriously infringed.
22. In line with the flexibility provided by the curriculum, the specifics of what is taught, and how it is taught, under each Area of Learning is a matter for each teacher/school.