On 16 January 2024, the Faith & Belief Forum (F&BF) announced that working with the charity Why Me and Interfaith Glasgow they had received almost £500,000 from the UK National Lottery to lead a new major initiative to repair the harm done by faith-based hate in the UK.
A partnership between F&BF, the Restorative Justice (RJ) charity Why me? and Interfaith Glasgow will use this funding to bring RJ principles and practice together with interfaith dialogue experience, forging new approaches to resolving faith-based community conflicts in Solihull and Glasgow.
Over the next three years, this innovative project will be informed by a national advisory group comprised of leaders in the interfaith, RJ and social cohesion sectors. Learning from 12 specific cases, this funding will enable the partnership to create a network of RJ practitioners within the interfaith sector who will promote the wider use of RJ in faith-based hate contexts.
The project aims to repair the harm done to individuals and communities as a result of faith-based hate, providing an innovative solution to a growing problem, that is currently dominated by securitised responses.
Phil Champain, Director of The Faith & Belief Forum, said: “Thanks to the National Lottery, this funding will enable us and our partners to scale up our efforts to find lasting solutions to the concerning rise of Antisemitism, Islamophobia, and other forms of faith-based hate in our communities at a time when conflict in the Middle East is exacerbating polarisation here in the UK.”
Dr Rose Drew, CEO of Interfaith Glasgow, said: “This project presents a really exciting opportunity to explore new ways of addressing the harm caused to communities by religiously aggravated hate, through powerful restorative methods that have been shown in other contexts to give back agency and rebuild broken relationships. The imperative for this work could not be more urgent.”
Kate Aldous, Strategic Programme Manager at Why me?, said: “Why me? is excited to have this opportunity to bring the power of restorative justice to address interfaith tension and conflict. We will teach community leaders how to use restorative approaches in their communities, ensuring better interfaith relations and more cohesive communities.”
Melissa Eaglesfield, Deputy Director of UK Portfolio at The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “Thanks to National Lottery players, and the hard work and dedication of staff and volunteers, this funding will make a significant difference by creating a network of community leaders to tackle faith-based hate across England and Scotland.
“Our ambition is to invest most in places, people and communities experiencing poverty, disadvantage, and discrimination. I’m pleased that our funding is being used to create safe environments where diverse communities can have their voices heard and take a proactive approach to address conflict through restorative action.”