Condemning racism: Lord Bourne visits Southall Sikh Gurdwara
Amid reports of an increase in hate crimes in recent weeks and with government funded projects - True Vision and Tell Mama - recording a rise in incidents, Communities Minister, Lord Bourne, met with the Church of England and Sikh community to speak out against racism.
On his first visit as a Government Minister for integration, Lord Bourne met with local activists at the largest Gurdwara for the Sikh community outside of India – the Southall Sikh Gurdwara.
The minister also visited the partnership in Southall, which is run by the Near Neighbours programme, a project which brings people from different faiths together so they can build trust and collaborate on projects to advance their local areas.
Lord Bourne, said: “The recent hate crimes are absolutely repulsive and those who seek to create division and exploit current events for their own agendas must be shown that racism is wrong.
“I’m privileged to listen to people in Southall and want to learn from them so we can apply this in other areas across the country.”
Kiran Kaur, Nehemiah Community Worker based at the Gurdwara, said: “I have lived around here for years and never knew there was a church around the corner from our Gurdwara.
“Now there’s an open door policy. We’ve started to interact with each other and we can both go back to our places of worship and spread the word about events and activities.”
The Department for Communities and Local Government has provided the Near Neighbours programme with £9.5million since 2011 to fund community-led local projects.
During this time, through its small grants programme, Near Neighbours has funded 1,100 projects, which have benefitted more than 1 million people in some of England’s most diverse communities.
From teaching coding to girls in North London; a pop-up community café in Leeds - to community gardening in Luton - the programme covers a broad range of activities across the arts, the environment and sport, with over 50 per cent of projects offering new skills to the unemployed.
Steven Derby, Director of Interfaith Matters, said: “The work that Near Neighbours does has been so beneficial to local communities.
“I make connections across London, from working with clergy from seven world faiths in Westminster to focussing on the strictly Orthodox Jewish community in Hackney. All of the projects are going excellently.”