Last chance for British Indians to have a say on faith engagement in UK

Last chance for British Indians to have a say on faith engagement in UK

The British Indian community is being urged to not miss out on the opportunity to have a say in the UK government’s Independent Faith Engagement Review, being conducted by Colin Bloom – appointed as the Faith Engagement Adviser at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).

The review will close by this weekend, therefore December 11 is the last chance for members of the diaspora to have their say on how those of all faiths, or none, perceive the government’s engagement with faith organisations. Based on the responses, Bloom will make recommendations to the Communities Secretary as part of his review.

“This evidence will form a massive part of the government’s faith engagement strategy so we need to ensure the Hindu voice is heard,” said a community representative for British Hindus.

The “Call for Evidence” can be completed anonymously and has been designed to allow anyone who is uncomfortable sharing personal information to still be able to provide their views in an anonymous way. There is also an option to leave contact details, for anyone of wishes to do so.

The MHCLG said the review began before the Covid-19 pandemic, but it is timely as the recommendations may well come to strengthen how government engages with faith groups during the Covid-19 recovery phase and beyond.

Bloom’s review is structured around four main sections:

  • the first section asks: “Are faith groups, places of worship and people of faith a force for good in society?”

  • the second section explores the extent to which government and its agencies have sufficient faith literacy and considers the partnership between faith groups and the State

  • the third section looks at some aspects where harm might be caused through religious or faith-based practices and a review of the government’s role in tackling them

  • the fourth and final section will be a set of recommendations for the government to consider and respond to

Once ethnicity, faith and beliefs, and backgrounds have been established, respondents are asked whether faith organisations or religious communities have supported their neighbourhood, and in what ways, before and during the pandemic.

Other multiple-choice questions include:

  • “Do you feel government engages meaningfully with people of faith?”

  • “Do you think government understands people of faith?”

  • “Do you feel that freedom of religion or belief is under threat in the UK today?”

It also asks whether the Charity Commission, local authorities, and public services such as schools and the National Health Service (NHS) could do more to support registered faith charities.

The outcome is expected to have a wide-ranging impact on how faith is factored into decision-making processes.

*Info: The official government form to be filled out can be found here

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