Catriona Robertson

journeys at home and abroad

Breadmaking with atheists

Photograph: Fabio De Paola for the Guardian

News today that the Church of England has been awarded £5m public funds for its Near Neighbours scheme through the Department of Communities and Local Government.  The Church Urban Fund will be administering it through local parish churches.

The Guardian writes

Near Neighbours is a three-year project which, according to its website, “aims to bring people together in diverse communities, helping them build relationships and collaborate to improve the local community they live in”. Grants of between £250 and £5,000 are available to anyone – including atheists – as long as the proposed activity encourages the involvement of “local people from different faiths and none”.

Five million over three years isn’t much, even if it’s just for a few areas of England “in the M62 ‘mill towns’ corridor, Leicester, East London (north and south) and Birmingham (north and east)”.  But hey, five million is better than no million :) and CUF has been working with local folk and marginalised communities long enough to know how to get it to the best people and places.

Best of all, it’s for people from different religious and philosophical traditions – all faiths and none – to come together and do something which benefits the wider community.  The late lamented Clapham & Stockwell Faith Forum was one such local group – women’s arts groups, teenage footie, not shying from hot topics – run by trustees from a range of traditions.  Building trust and understanding across the Religion v No Religion gap is just as important as inter religious & intra religious work – and there’s still plenty of that on the To Do list.

One curiosity, though – why is breadmaking thought to be something for women in particular?  My feminist antennae are on full alert at the moment; at the recent London Mayor’s Interfaith Initiative there were six speakers on stage – all of them men!  Astonishing and disheartening in equal measure.  The excellent Bit more complicated blog had a good post on something similar earlier this month.

I’m looking forward to making bread with atheist men in the East End before the year is out.

PS A Humanist view on George Ballentyne’s fab non-stop blog, but sadly no mention of bread.

2 comments on “Breadmaking with atheists

  1. Catriona Robertson
    24 February 2011

    And I with yours! PP probably with Small is Beautiful etc.

    I’ve always found myself torn between getting thoroughly stuck in locally (which is hugely time-consuming if one hopes to be effective – as well you know) and also being involved nationally/internationally. Local & global go together so obviously – green issues, conflict/peace, trade justice, women – but it’s a challenge to be seriously active at both levels.

    Doesn’t stop us, though, does it!

  2. Jeanne Hinton
    21 February 2011

    Great Catriona. Am keeping up with your blogs and both encouraged and challenged. Just wanted you to know that ! A lot to think about with all that is or is not coming our way big society. P P. says he only believes in the ‘small society’! But as you say we should work with what we can get ?

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This entry was posted on 20 February 2011 by in England and tagged , , , , .
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