We are a multi-faith charity, bringing together people from across Brighton and Hove who find common ground in wanting to help the poor and the persecuted, the hungry and the homeless, the lonely and the vulnerable.
The global economic crisis of 2008 left Brighton and Hove battling an increase in poverty and personal debt. The community was hit by higher unemployment and inflation, coupled with wage freezes and cuts – the challenges of which are still being felt more than a decade later.
Greater demand for social care, as life expectancy increased and the elderly population grew, put the city council under huge pressure to deliver more welfare services to more people – but with greatly reduced budgets.
So what could be done to tackle this perfect storm? In 2012 and 2013, two significant reports highlighted the potential for local authorities to work with faith groups in their areas:
A report by the think-tank Demos that investigates 20 faith motivated organisations across a variety of policy areas.
A report sponsored by the Evangelical Alliance and published by the All-Party Parliamentary Group of Christians in Parliament. Strengthening ties between faith groups and local authorities.
Both reports concluded communities would be better served if councils and faith groups worked together, and recommended studies be carried out to identify opportunities for partnerships which could improve the lives of the most vulnerable.
No existing charity was suitable to carry out the work, so in Brighton Lev Eakins and Rev Martin Poole took matters into their own hands and created one, alongside the trustees of faith groups in the city offering the most help to those who desperately needed it. Its aim was to try to plug the gaps that appear when public services are unable to meet rising demand.
In February 2014, Brighton and Hove Faith in Action – a brand new multi-faith charity – was officially set up.
Over the next 18 months, we gathered information on faith groups offering social welfare services in the community and presented its findings to the council in November 2015.
We completed our registration process with the Charity Commission in March, and three months later launched our first collaboration – the Mental Health Faith Partnership (MHFP), bringing together faith and service providers of mental health care.
In November, we organised our second Celebrating Faith event for Interfaith week.
The MHFP organised mental health awareness training events for 12 faith groups in the Spring, and in May we were given responsibility for leading the city council’s funded Faith Partnership – later rebranded the Faith Council.
In September we elected a new chair, Rik Child, to lead the BHFA forward.
In February the Faith Council created a sub-committee on homelessness, chaired by the YMCA DLG, which helps young people facing crisis.
Two months later, we launched the Combatting Faith Hate Partnership. Led by the BHFA alongside Anglican, Catholic, Coptic, Muslim and Jewish faith groups, its aim is to combat
religiously motivated hate crime in the city.
In May we changed our constitution to allow non-worshipping faith groups full membership rather than associate membership, bringing our number to over 100 for the first time and representing 75% of all known faith groups in the city.
And in November the Faith Covenant – a pledge to work ‘constructively, openly and collaboratively for the good of the city’ – was signed between Brighton and Hove City Council
and the city’s faith community. The agreement was brokered through the Faith Council, led by BHFA.
In the first half of the year, the Faith Council reviewed the work of homeless provision in Brighton and Hove and we continued our work on the Combatting Faith Hate Project. We received training from the Faith and Belief Forum in preparation for starting school visits.
We also set up a ‘standing together committee’ of ministers from different faiths to deliver a faith tour, where members of the public, whether of faith or not, can visit different buildings owned and operated by various groups to learn more about the religious community.
BHFA organises a number of events which are open to the public. The Faith Council welcomes observers although only members can play a full role in the meeting. Information our events can be found to the right. Everyone is most warmly invited whether you are a person of faith or not.