Near Neighbours - Bringing People Together



Near Neighbours in a nutshell
The idea is to bring people together who are near neighbours in communities that are diverse, so they can get to know each other better, build relationships as people and collaborate together on initiatives that improve the local community they live in.

Why is Near Neighbours needed?
Some places in England such as Leicester, Bradford, parts of Birmingham and East London have a number of different faith communities living close to each other.
These are often areas of deprivation and the people living there share common concerns – they want a better local community, but they don’t come together to talk or act on this as much as they could.

Yet, local people in local communities are the ones who are ideally placed to identify and develop solutions that can improve their own neighbourhood.
Separation can lead to misunderstanding and a lack of trust or respect for each other, which is not healthy for a local community.

Near Neighbours have two key objectives

  • Social interaction - to develop positive relationships in multi-faith areas i.e. to help people from different faiths get to know and understand each other better.
  • Social action - to encourage people of different faiths, or no faith, to come together for initiatives that improve their local neighbourhood.


Strategic Partnerships
We have a long-running partnership, now formalised through a memorandum of understanding, with the St Philip’s Centre, Leicester. Our other partners include: Blackburn Cathedral, Bradford Churches for Dialogue and Diversity (BCDD) and Building Bridges in Pendle. We will be building new partnerships with the Contextual Theology Centre and the Birmingham Presence and Engagement Centre. The Christian Muslim Forum and St Philip’s Centre have a mutual evaluation and review arrangement. We are also in the process of developing national strategic partnerships with the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board and Churches Together in England. The needs of the different locations and consultation with our partners will shape the programme as a whole and the delivery of specific local events.

The programme will deliver a series of residential events in the following locations: Bradford, Burnley, Oldham, Leicester, Loughborough, Birmingham, E. London. This will be done in partnership with the four regional Presence and Engagement centres. Our existing leader’s programme (to be subsumed into ‘Near Neighbours’ from October 2011) will be delivering events in Birmingham and Leeds later this year.


  • Improved understanding and engagement between diverse Muslims and Christians
  • Local pairings between Muslims and Christians support twinning and other initiatives
  • Stronger foundations for resolving conflicts/tension using inter-personal methods
  • Developing a range of leadership skills amongst all faith leaders
  • Governance improvements through shared learning and highlighting of role models
  • Participants inspired by practical case studies
  • Sign-up to the Christian Muslim Forum’s Ethical Witness guidelines
  • Increased involvement in local and regional inter faith activity


The delivery of this programme will be evaluated by the St Philip’s Centre (SPC), except for Leicester events run in partnership with SPC which we anticipate will be evaluated by BCDD. Evaluation processes (participant feedback) for each event will be developed with our external evaluators. This will cover participant experience, implementation of learning and development and ongoing impact on local relationships.

Programme Description
The proposed three year programme will be delivered over 2.5 years through a series of regional events in the four P&E areas:

Year 1: April 2011 to March 2012
Year 2: April 2012 to March 2013
Year 3: April 2013 to September 2014

The first one-year programme will deliver:

  • Working with Christian and Muslim communities and leaders, for ‘pairing’ (mosque-church, Christian-Muslim leaders) and better local relationships, which seeks to root the dialogue and engagement process in the training. The programme will deliver a series of residential events in the four key areas and will be done in partnership with the Presence & Engagement centres. The events focus on the experiences and needs of both young and experienced Muslim and Christian leaders to develop ideas which use the resources of both faiths to encourage a confident faith identity which can engage in inter faith in order to address local community concerns.
  • A supporting women’s programme linking with and enabling Christian-Muslim women’s groups: Focus groups are taking place in the four areas, which will inform a national conference for March 2012, as well as giving an opportunity to listen to women’s stories, experiences and issues that are important to women locally. This may also help to inform future work of the Christian Muslim Forum.

Grants are available for both strands, to carry out new or existing projects promoting interaction in communities.

Please check the Near Neighbours page to learn more about the programme.

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