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Sunday, September 25, 2016
Faith forum launched in northwest
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¬†Paul Goggins MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Home Office is today joining members from faith communities across the northwest to mark the official inauguration of the Northwest Forum of Faiths, an advisory body that has been established to ensure that faith communities across the northwest are consulted on key regional issues. The Forum, which is supported by the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA), will comprise of 24 individuals representing the nine major world faith communities from every part of the region. It aims to ensure that, alongside other stakeholders, faith communities have a regional voice. The NWDA has conducted significant research to measure the contribution faith communities make to the northwest. Findings revealed that faith communities play a key role in offering social care and support to vulnerable members of society and stimulate unrivalled levels of volunteering, as well as being important custodians of the region's built heritage. The reports also found that faith communities contribute up to £94.9 million per annum to the regional economy and attract 697,114 visitors to the region. The Northwest Forum of Faiths has been established as part of the Agency's commitment to taking forward the faith agenda in the region. The Forum will enable government and other statutory bodies to consult with faith communities on regional issues, ensuring that they are able to effectively respond to regional initiatives. The inauguration of the Forum will take place at an event at St Augustine's New Avenham Centre in Preston today. Speaking will be Steven Broomhead, Chief Executive of the NWDA, Monsignor John Devine, Churches Officer for the North West, Zia Chaudhry, Chair of the Merseyside Council of Faiths, Vijayanti Chauhan, Chair, Preston Forum of Faiths, and Peter Brain, Moderator, North Western Synod, United Reformed Church. Steven Broomhead, NWDA Chief Executive, said: "Faith communities make a valuable contribution to the social and economic development of the region. Through their infrastructure and volunteer work, they play a key role in the drive to improve our local communities and create social cohesion. Utilising the experience and resources of faith communities in delivering services will make a significant difference to the region's quality of life and it is therefore vital that they are fully consulted on regional issues. The NWDA recognises faith communities as key stakeholders in the region's future and I am delighted to support the Northwest Forum of Faiths, which will ensure that faith communities are effectively engaged in regional initiatives." Mgr John Devine, Churches Officer for the northwest, said: "According to the 2001 census eight out of ten people in the northwest identify themselves as being a member of a faith community. Today's initiative comes at the end of a long process of identifying who the faith communities are and where they are based in the northwest. The new forum is not intended to take the place of interfaith initiatives at local and county level. For the first time we have a transparent and accountable mechanism which does justice to the diversity of faith communities but which is flexible enough to respond to requests for consultation on regional policy issues at short notice."
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