In the same week he delivered a sermon at St Paul’s Cathedral as part of the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations, the Archbishop of Canterbury visited east London to commend the work of Near Neighbours.
He said he was, “amazed and delighted that in this relatively small space of east London, so much is going on because of this programme…. I’m delighted to see the resources of this programme being used so creatively, so joyfully and imaginatively.”
Dr Rowan Williams was part of a delegation which included the Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles, the Bishop of Chelmsford, Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell and Councillor Richard Sweden, the Mayor of Waltham Forest.
They visited St Andrew’s Parish Church for Morning Prayer and were then welcomed to Shri Nathji Sanatan Hindu Mandir. The church and the temple have been working together using Near Neighbours funding and training.
Both institutions have been in the local community for many years, yet until recently hadn’t had any contact – despite being round the corner from each other. That’s now all changed, thanks to the hard work of members of both congregations and the support of Near Neighbours. They’ve set up a ‘faith friendship club’, meeting every fortnight and sharing all kinds of arts. Dance, drama, artwork and more are discussed, and practiced! It’s been a great way for members of both communities to learn about each other’s culture and background.
Also there on the day were other Near Neighbours projects which are thriving locally. A project which helps people to mentor schoolchildren, a street safety initiative in central Walthamstow and a group bringing together senior citizens of many different backgrounds were all profiled. Leaders and users of all these projects were given the chance to tell the Minister and the Archbishop about the great work they’re doing, with the support of Near Neighbours.
Listen to the Archbishop’s short address here: