The Global Economic Crisis in 2008 resulted in higher unemployment and inflation, coupled with wage freezes or cuts, these factors contributed to an increase in poverty and personal debt in Brighton and Hove. Additionally, rising life expectancy is creating greater demand for social care as our elderly population grows.
The City Council is under pressure to deliver social welfare services such as debt advice, social housing and adult social care to more people, but with lower budgets due to substantial reductions to the central government grant to local authorities. This has created a “perfect storm” of a council under pressure to increase social welfare output whilst having fewer resources to do so.
Between 2012 and 2013 three significant reports were published concerning local authorities working with local faith groups. These are:
- Faith and belief in partnership – Effective collaboration with local government.” A report sponsored by the Local Government Association and authored by Northumbria University.
- Faithful Providers.” A report by the think-tank Demos that investigates 20 faith-motivated organisations across a variety of policy areas.
- Faith in the Community – Strengthening ties between faith groups and local authorities.” A report sponsored by the Evangelical Alliance and published by the All Party Group of Christians in Parliament.
All three reports conclude that both faith groups and local authorities will provide more efficient and effective social welfare services if they work together. Furthermore, they all recommend that an audit is conducted in the first place to identify current provision so that partnerships can be facilitated between faith groups and local authorities.
No existing charity was suitable to conduct this work, so Lev Eakins and Rev Martin Poole created one with the trustees drawn from those faith groups delivering the most significant social welfare services in the city. Our aim to fill the gaps that appear when social welfare services are unable to meet rising demand due to their budgets being reduced by government spending cuts.
- In February 2014 a new multifaith charity ‘Brighton and Hove Faith in Action’ was constituted.
- Over the next 18 months an audit was taken of faith groups who deliver social welfare services and a report was presented to the Council in November 2015.
- In November the BHFA co-organised a Celebrating Faith Event during Interfaith week.
- In March we completed our registration process with the charity commission.
- In June we launched our first partnership – the Mental Health Faith Partnership (MHFP), bringing together faith and secular service providers of mental health care.
- In November we organised the second Celebrating Faith event during Interfaith week.
- In April and May the MHFP organised training events in Mental Health awareness for 12 faith groups.
- In May the BHFA was given responsibility for leading the City Council funded Faith Partnership.
- In September the BHFA elected a new chair, Rik Child, to lead the BHFA forwards.
- In November the Faith Partnership was rebranded into the Faith Council.
- In February the Faith Council created a sub-committee on Homelessness which is chaired by YMCA DLG.
- In April the Faith Council launched the Combatting Faith Hate Partnership, led by the BHFA with Anglican, Catholic, Coptic, Muslim and Jewish partners working together to combat religiously motivated hate crime in the city.
- In May the BHFA changed its constitution to allow non-worshipping faith groups full membership (before they were associate members) which brought the membership over 100 for the first time (106), representing 75% of all known faith groups in the city.
- In November the Faith Covenant is signed between Brighton & Hove City Council and the city’s faith community, represented through the Faith Council brokered and administered by Brighton & Hove Faith in Action.