The Near Neighbours small grants is a programme with the aim to support community groups and organisations to bring together communities that are religiously and ethnically diverse so they can get to know each other better. I joined the Near Neighbours team this July as the co-ordinator for eastern London, including most boroughs in east and some in south. Interfaith projects are particularly important in the current society we live in. The more we come together, the more we can challenge injustice and learn to rely on each other for solidarity.
What allows us to see the benefits of coming together is the gift of imagination. It is imagination that gives us the power to see different communities work with each other as partners and agents of change. It is imagination that allows us to see our world as it is meant to be.
Nevertheless, imagination alone cannot achieve change. We need to be able to move from imagining a better world to acting toward making this place a little bit closer to what it should be. For that we need a plan. We need to be able to discover what is that little thing we care about, the thing we would like to have a go at changing, then we need to build relationships. No one can change the world alone, we need to work with others to do so.
Finally, when we imagined what we want to do, we worked out the exactly way to do it and with whom, then we need to be able to act.
Sometimes, a little bit of grant funding will help turn such an idea into reality. And, if your idea is about bringing people from different faiths and ethnicities together, then perhaps the Near Neighbours small grants is for you.
Don’t forget we cannot change what we cannot imagine, so let’s begin by imagining the transformations – and then building the relationships to make them happen.