Faiths in Action was a Department for Communities and Local Government-backed £4.4 million grant programme for faith, inter-faith, voluntary and community sector groups and organizations in England, which ran from 1 April 2009 to 31 March 2011.
In all, the programme funded 575 small-scale projects within local communities to enable people of different faiths and wider civil society to develop strong and positive relationships.
The Community Development Foundation has recently published an assessment of the programme: Daniel Pearmain, Faiths in Action: Final Evaluation Report.
In particular, this explores the experiences of 297 projects which received funding during Year 2 of the programme (1 April 2010 to 31 March 2011) and which replied to the survey (non-response was about 40%). The report is available at:
Key statistics from the evaluation include the following:
- 78% of projects were carried out by voluntary and community sector groups, registered charities or similar agencies, with a further 17% led by faith-based groups
- 21% of projects operated exclusively within the local area (defined as within 20 minutes’ walking distance), 49% within the local authority, 21% regionally, 7% nationally, and 2% internationally
- On average, 338 individuals benefited from each project, and nearly 200,000 from the programme; the median was lower (110), since the mean was distorted by groups working with large numbers of school students
- Beneficiary groups were diverse: women (89%), men (76%), youth (73%), people on low incomes (64%), urban dwellers (62%), people of a particular religion or belief (60%), unemployed (57%), single (57%), families (54%), people of a particular ethnicity (52%), elderly (47%), children (45%), disabled (36%), and refugees (34%)
- Faith communities benefiting from projects included: Christians (89%), Muslims (86%), Hindus (51%), Sikhs (38%), those of no religion (35%), Jews (32%), Buddhists (27%), and Baha’is (16%)
- 71% of projects stimulated engagement with specific groups not previously worked with in the community, and this was especially the case with people of a particular religion/belief or ethnicity
- 57% of projects reported that the Faiths in Action funding had contributed a great deal to their awareness of inter-faith activity in the local area and 32% a little, and 84% had participated rather more in local inter-faith networks as a result
- 60% claimed that their projects had contributed a great deal to integration between faith groups in their local area and 31% a little
- 25% of projects felt that the funding had considerably increased their group’s influence on local decision-making affecting community cohesion and faith, and 46% that it had modestly increased their influence
- Each project boosted volunteering by an average of seven persons, or 4,000 across the programme
- 44% of projects said that support from the programme had helped them develop capacity to access other sources of funding through enhanced kudos, learning opportunities, and improved practical skills
- 81% of projects said that their organization would continue the same or similar work following cessation of Faiths in Action funding
The report also includes a more qualitative evaluation of the three-year (2008-11) £1.9 million Government programme to capacity-build a network of nine Regional Faith Forums in England. The first Forum was set up in 1997, the most recent in 2010.