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18 February 2013

Government celebrates social action from groups who "do God"

Government celebrates social action from groups who "do God"

Faith groups are being invited to take part in a new programme to celebrate, promote and link the variety of social action projects they are involved in.

Launched last week by Baroness Warsi, the faith and communities minister; Together in Service is a three-year programme celebrating social action projects.

It has been launched to motivate and inspire new work, especially around multi-faith volunteering projects between religions.

The initiative will be based around an ongoing monthly calendar of faith-based volunteering. Up to one week every month will be focused on the volunteering that the featured faith undertakes by itself, for example the Christian-led Street Pastors or foodbanks.

The programme will then feature multi-faith projects, where the lead faith has joined up with other religions to deliver voluntary work.

The programme will be supported by a 'fellowship' of active volunteers who can provide training, information and wider support to new and existing organisations. This can inspire them to deliver multi-faith volunteering projects, while building on the enthusiasm generated as part of last year's A Year of Service.

A Together in Service fund of up to £300,000 over three years is available in the form of small grants for multi-faith projects. Up to £1,000 will be on offer to help get local projects off the ground in areas where there may be a lack of confidence or knowledge in undertaking volunteering work in a multi-faith way.

Baroness Warsi was speaking at the launch of the 2012 National Church and Social Action Survey which found that volunteering in churches has increased by 36 per cent in just two years, showing that the appetite for social action is on the increase.

At the event, she said: "Our faith groups make a huge contribution to society with an army of dedicated volunteers who commit their time and enthusiasm throughout the year.

"The research from Jubilee Plus shows that this work is more valuable now than ever - from holding mother and toddler groups to arts clubs and caring for the elderly - the contribution of all faiths to the greater good cannot be underestimated.

"That's why I'm thrilled to announce Together in Service today to build on this excellent work. I'm proud that we live in a society where faith-based community action is at the forefront of our communities, showing that people who do God, do good."
Communities minister Don Foster added: "Together in Service is a fantastic way of celebrating existing social action projects and to inspire and encourage new and exciting multi-faith volunteering across the country.

"The hard work, commitment and dedication of our faith groups plays a vital role in our communities. It makes them a stronger and more supportive place to live and shows that social action is at the forefront of community life.

"I look forward to seeing some exciting multi-faith Together in Service volunteering projects over the forthcoming months."