The BHA’s Hanne Stinson, Andrew Copson and Pepper Harow met with Sadiq Khan MP yesterday to discuss the BHA’s concerns regarding the government’s ‘inter faith strategy,’ Face to Face and Side by Side, A Framework for Partnership in our Multi-Faith Society. Mr Khan is the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and was interested to hear about the BHA’s equalities work and work in local communities.
Ms Stinson said, “We have many serious concerns about the DCLG’s current focus regarding ‘faith’ as we believe strongly that real community cohesion can only be achieved by working with all parts of the local community. By encouraging and funding ‘inter faith’ work, DCLG is failing to recognise the fact that such work almost always excludes non-religious people from dialogue and policy decision making.”
She continued, “In addition to this, DCLG has continued to ignore the very real dangers to equalities and human rights that could be caused by contracting out public services to religious organisations.”
This is the second time the BHA has met with a Minister of the Department in the last two years and the meeting was a positive one. Mr Khan took the initiative in suggesting that the BHA is a “very important stakeholder” for the Department and that our concerns will be listened to. He agreed that communication between the BHA and the Department must be improved and confirmed that BHA involvement in DCLG work would be more welcome in the future.
Pepper Harow commented, “This could be a huge step forward in our local campaigning and cohesion work. At last DCLG has recognised that our input is valuable and relevant.”
For comment or information, contact Pepper Harow, Local Campaigns Officer, on 0207 462 4992.