The year started with a new lockdown which significantly restricted BHFA’s activity. The charity now has an office at the BMECP centre which will be staffed in a part time capacity from late May 2021.
During the lockdowns, the charity launched Street Support - Brighton & Hove with partners, many of them members of Brighton & Hove Faith in Action and is now looking more closely at social prescribing and befriending to support people re-socialise and counteract any mental health issues that might have arisen during this period.
The Faith Tour got underway with a visit to the Bodhisattva Centre in Hove.
This visit was followed up by a visit to Middle Street Synagogue in central Brighton. The tour was put on hold in late March 2020 as lockdown commenced. Since then a number of videos have been made in the Reform Synagogue, the Coptic Orthodox Church and various projects organised by Muslim and Christian groups demonstrating the work of the communities during the pandemic and introducing these faith communities to a wider audience. These are available on BHFA’s YouTube Channel.
The Covid-19 pandemic arrived quickly and changed everything. BHFA responded by moving the Faith Council on line and was meeting every week during the lock down, focusing on co-ordination of the faith based community responses to the pandemic, interfacing with the council, police and wider voluntary sector and has latterly moved to supporting faith groups re-open places of worship safely, providing risk assessments and best practice as well as links to PPE and other resources.
The latter part of the year was dedicated to conducting a survey of all the faith groups within the city, identifying the work being undertaken, all services offered both spiritual and social as well as developing a register of facilities owned and operated by the faith groups. The Faith Council continued to meet and the Homelessness Faith Partnership was developed to play a role in meeting need in what will be a very different offering for those experiencing homelessness now that night shelters and day centres are likely unable to re-open.
In the early part of the year, BHFA received training from the Faith and Belief Forum in preparation for starting school visits as part of the Combatting Faith Hate Partnership (CFHP).
BHFA also set up a ‘standing together committee’ of ministers from different faiths so that these ministers could get to know each other. A number of events were held, including a meal at A Taste of Sahara restaurant to which came the local Imam, Gen Thekchen a Buddist Monk, Christians and other people of faith.
In May, the Mayor held a gathering of faith leaders in the town, the first of its kind, which marked the rising profile of the faith community and the value the civic authorities are placing on both the services offered by faith communities and the diverse communities themselves.
In June, the annual Celebrating Faith event was held in the "public square" at the Open Market and was attended by the Mayor of Brighton & Hove.
BHFA attended the Brighton & Hove Iftar meal to mark the end of Ramadan.
During the rest of the year, the Faith Council continued to advance the work of representation of faith communities within the city and the Combating Faith Hate Partnership begun to organise the Faith Tour.
There were local elections in Brighton & Hove in May 2019. To this end, BHFA organised a faith hustings where all parties were able to send council candidates to speak to the faith communities about issues that mattered in the upcoming ballot.
The snap general election of December 2019 allowed BHFA to organise another faith hustings attended by well over 200 people. Brighton & Hove Reform Synagogue provided the venue and the event received wide recognition.
In February, the Faith Council created a sub-committee on homelessness, chaired by the YMCA Downslink Group, which helps young people facing crisis. This group then conducted a limited survey of the faith community to see what services were being offered to those experiencing homelessness and other problems.
In April, BHFA launched the Combatting Faith Hate Partnership. Led by the BHFA, the partnership brought together Anglican, Catholic, Coptic, Muslim and Jewish faith groups with the aim of combating religiously motivated hate crime in the city through education.
In May, BHFA changed its constitution to allow non-worshipping faith groups full membership rather than associate membership, bringing membership to over 100 for the first time. This meant that BHFA had over 75% of all known faith groups in the city as its members.
In November, the Co-operative awarded BHFA funding for its work to combat homelessness:
Later in November, the Faith Covenant – a pledge to work ‘constructively, openly and collaboratively for the good of the city’ – was signed between BHFA and Brighton and Hove City Council.
The Mental Health Faith Partnership delivered its mental health awareness training events to twelve faith groups in the Spring.
In the May, BHFA was given responsibility for leading the city council’s funded Faith Partnership – later rebranded the Faith Council.
In September, BHFA elected a new chair, Rik Child, to lead the BHFA forward.
In March of the year, BHFA completed its registration process with the Charity Commission and was issued with it’s charity number.
Three months later, BHFA launched its first collaboration – the Mental Health Faith Partnership (MHFP), bringing together faith and service providers of mental health care. The partnership planned several sessions of innovative training for faith leaders so that they would be able to recognise, support and signpost people to the relevant support services.
In November, BHFA organised its second Celebrating Faith event for Interfaith week.
In February 2014, Brighton and Hove Faith in Action – a brand new multi-faith charity – was constituted and begun work in the city.
Over the next 18 months, it worked to gather information on faith groups offering social welfare services in the community and presented its findings to the council in November 2015.