by Tim Harrold & Andy Blakey
Press Release sent to all local media on 23 November 2015
On 19 November, the Thursday of the national Interfaith Week, the work that faith communities do across the borough was celebrated at the Thurrock Faith In Action event held at Gateway People’s Centre (GPC) in Stanford-le-Hope.
Delegates from the Christian, Hindu, Muslim and Sikh communities of Thurrock attended.
This event was put on to celebrate the findings of the Cinnamon Network Faith Action Audit which took place earlier this year. This was facilitated by Andrew Blakey on behalf of the two local co-sponsors, the inter-faith forum Thurrock Faith Matters and Christian faith community network Transformation Thurrock.
The Audit highlights the fact that Thurrock’s faith communities give over 110k volunteer hours a year, which is worth over £1.5m to the borough.
In the afternoon, 10 local groups had ‘market stalls’ to display their work and people came to look around, hear the stories and get inspired. Refreshments were laid on by GPC’s generous hospitality team under the direction of Jacqui Trott.
Rev John Wraw, the Bishop of Bradwell, and Natalie Warren, the Community Development and Equalities Manager for Thurrock Council, opened proceedings with expressions of support.
Andrew Blakey then presented an overview of the findings of the national and local Faith Audits and then introduced three local projects. He told delegates that Thurrock was the only borough in Essex to do the audit.
Elle Knight, Project Co-ordinator for Thurrock Lunch Club (which is a Cinnamon Network recognised project), explained that the club fills “the holiday hunger gap across the borough.”
Ashley Lovett of Thurrock foodbank said, “Foodbanks are the start of our communities learning to help each other.”
Gbenga Bamidele of Thurrock COACH Network shared many quotes from teachers and parents about its success with helping children at risk of exclusion.
A panel consisting of Bishop John, Natalie and Elle was joined by Nick Alston, Essex Police and Crime Commissioner. They took questions from the audience.
All agreed that Thurrock often understates itself but has reason to celebrate and look forward.
Bishop John urged faith communities to not just react to the gaps that are appearing as ever deeper cuts are made. He emphasised the need for advocacy for the marginalised and that faith communities should to play to their strengths and follow their vision.
Nick made delegates aware of a new initiative through which the community can become more involved with the direction of local policing. He said he enjoyed coming to the borough and that, being a unitary authority, Thurrock is quick to raise important concerns.
The event closed with a call to action and vote of thanks from Claudine Reid MBE, the Cinnamon Audit Ambassador.
Thanks to Councillors James Halden and Yash Gupta for supporting the event.
Both Jackie Doyle-Price MP and Stephen Metcalfe MP sent their apologies as they were tied up with parliamentary business.
1. Gbenga with Dapo of GPC
2. The Side By Side and Boiler Room stalls
3. Panel: Natalie Warren and Nick Alston
4. Panel: Bishop John and Elle Knight
5. Bishop John
9. Claudine Reid
“The glory of God is a human being fully alive” – quoted by Bishop John