Lord Bourne, Minister for Faith, visited Reading University on 28th June 2019 to meet with various representatives of Faith Groups working in the community. Among these were ourselves (ReadiFood, ReadiStreet and B4N), The Mustard Tree (Rahab, Lifeline, Engage Befriending), Street Pastors and Sadaka.
Sadly many other groups were missing and time was so short that we could really only scratch the surface of all that great work being done in Reading and especially the vast array of Christian initiatives. However it is good to have been able to feedback from the grass roots what is going on here.
One major theme that was brought up was the clear lack of conversation between different faith groups in the town, and generally, which could be so helpful in healing communities when disasters like Grenfell or a terrorist attack occur.
It almost goes without saying that the government long for greater community cohesion, for barriers to come down and bridges to be built. There is though a lot of work to do in enabling the essentially secular authorities to understand why different faiths exist at all and what they stand for and what the real tensions are in working together.