FTiL and the Co-operative Commission’s Report (24 January 2011)
- Faiths Together in Lambeth (FTiL) came into existence on 1 October 2008, after a considerable period of consultation. FTiL is an independent, Lambeth-wide body, fostering constructive relationships among faith communities and promoting faith and multi-faith involvement in civic life.
- Lambeth Council supported the consultation process and the initial formation of the organisation and then provided capacity building support amounting to £10,000 in 2009/10 and again in 2010/11.
- FTiL is now a company limited by guarantee and will become a registered charity. It is a member body of the Inter Faith Network for the UK. The FTiL website is currently under test.
- The membership of FTiL currently includes 37 organisations and 44 individuals. The Management Committee includes Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Hindu and Muslim members.
- The activities of FTiL to date have included:
- Round Table discussions
- Visits to places of worship and faith trails
- Inter faith peace picnics
- Consultation meetings (eg community safety)
- Election hustings
- Commissioned work on faith-based youth activities
- A memorandum of understanding with Lambeth Police
- Contributions to Council tasks such as the Faith Calendar
FTiL was late in responding to the White Paper, eventually making a submission in November 2010. This submission highlighted the extent to which FTiL already conformed to the 7 principles set out in the White Paper. These principles have been reviewed by the Commission and re-expressed as 5 revised principles. FTiL’s modus operandi is perhaps even more consistent with the revised principles.
The Commission’s approach as applied to FTiL
The co-operative approach is fundamentally about ‘a new approach to public service delivery’. The public service that FTiL delivers is 'fostering constructive relationships among faith communities and promoting faith and multi-faith involvement in civic life'.
Of particular relevance to FTiL is the word 'diverse' in the vision phrase on page 4 of the White Paper and the reference to 'mixed and sustainable communities' among the long-term outcomes. It was considerations of this kind that led the Council to support the formation of FTiL in 2008 and its capacity building during its first two years. The rationale for such support is as strong now as it was before.
With reference to the 5 revised principles on pages 19 and 20 of the Commission’s Report:
- FTiL’s relationship with the Council as leader and partner has accorded fairly well with principle 1.
- FTiL’s evolving approach to the delivery of its public service seems to be fully consistent with principle 2, including the element of co-production with council staff.
- Members of faith communities are often incentivised by their faith to become involved as volunteers in helping to deliver the service that FTiL offers. Council recognition could enhance this.
- Regarding principle 4, FTiL's role in employment opportunities will remain very small for the foreseeable future.
- Principle 5 is important because FTiL is keen to improve accessibility to the service it offers.
It appears that FTiL, newly established in recent years, already embodies a number of the ways of working to which the Co-operative Council aspires, and that FTiL as it evolves can readily become an integral part of a co-operative borough. FTiL is a third sector organisation that has organised itself to provide a specific service and it is deeply involved in the design and delivery of that service. As stated in para 5.3 of the Report, “The council has a role in ensuring these groups grow and flourish and should therefore provide practical support …. where possible …”.
Among the range of FTiL’s activities, the strand concerning faith based services for young people is of special relevance as we seek to build towards a co-operative borough. The overall aim is to break down stereotyping and prejudice among young people. In 2009/10, FTiL commissioned work to map the activities provided by faith communities for young people in Lambeth, and this is to be further extended. Now in 2010/11 the mapping work is providing a basis for work to establish a faith-based Youth Forum in the Borough. In 2011/12 and beyond the Youth Forum could be the vehicle for creating events and activities to foster constructive relationships among young people from different faiths. Funding estimated at £15.000 would be required in 2011/12. Funding of £5000 from Council sources to support this strand of work is suggested as appropriate.