The Centre is the east London hub for Near Neighbours – a Government programme to promote interaction in multi-religious, inner-city communities.

About Near Neighbours

Funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government, and administered by a charity set up by the Church Urban Fund and the Church of England, this programme has two key objectives:

1) Social interaction – to develop positive relationships in multi-faith areas; to help people from different faiths get to know and understand each other better.

2) Social action – to encourage people of different faiths and of no faith to come together for initiatives that improve their neighbourhood.

The programme works in a number of key locations across England. We are present in the northern towns of Bury, Rochdale and Oldham; Leeds, Bradford and Dewsbury; and in Burnley. In the midlands we are working in Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Sandwell, Walsall and Dudley; Leicester and Nottingham. In the south we operate in Luton and across most of London.

We are also linked with a number of partners across the programme who are providing expertise through their focused work. Our partners contribute to the programme with training, expertise and resources. Their work is developing the networks and capacity of local communities and organisations through sustainable initiatives that will continue to impact long into the future. Information about our partners can be found here.

This is supported by a small grants fund, providing seed capital for local groups and organisations who are working to bring together neighbours; to develop relationships of diverse faiths and ethnicities and also to improve their communities. Details of our fund can be found here.

Why is Near Neighbours needed?

Some neighbourhoods in England have a number of different faith and ethnic communities living close to each other, these communities often rarely interact with one another and instead live parallel but separate lives.

Such separation can lead to misunderstanding and a lack of trust or respect for each other, which is not healthy for a local community.

These are also often areas of deprivation, with people living there sharing common concerns for a better community. Despite this shared concern they don’t come together to talk or act on this as much as they could.

Yet it is local people, in local communities, that are the ones who are ideally placed to identify and develop solutions that can improve their own neighbourhood.

Thus Near Neighbours bring people together; breaking down misunderstanding and developing trust, and helps them to act to change their communities for the better.

The Co-ordinator of Eastern London Near Neighbours is Sotez Chowdhury. He explains why he’s so passionate about the programme here.


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