The importance of the faith sector in building better relationships between communities was the message that came out of a meeting at Burnley Town Hall.
The Building Bridges in Burnley group met with Burnley Borough Council chief executive Mick Cartledge who highlighted the need to encourage and nurture cohesiveness in the diverse town of Burnley.
Mr Cartledge said the group, set up following the racial disturbances of 2001, was the strongest when the need was highest.
He said: “The faith sector makes a massive impact in the life of individuals and communities in the town.
“Faith groups reach out to people more than any other organisations, work better in engaging more people, thrive in volunteering and nurturing volunteers.
“Building Bridges in Burnley is a major partner of the council. It has been an exemplary organisation in work dealing with difficult times faced by the borough.
“Building Bridges in Burnley and the faith sector enjoy people’s trust.”
The chief executive’s talk was followed by a lively discussion, with suggestions put forward included more active coordination between council, voluntary groups and faith organisations, including working collectively on a people centred project which will have a tangible and lasting impact on community cohesion.
The opening prayer was led by Imtiaz Hussain and closing prayers by Rev. Liz Hewitt.
Building Bridges trustee Mozaquir Ali said: “It was a well attended and positive meeting with lively discussions.
“There were suggestions for future work that will have more impact on community cohesion which will bring more positive outcomes, closing more gaps in our diverse community. It’s always nice to know your existence and work is appreciated and needed.”
Fr Peter Hapgood-Strickland, chairman of Building Bridges, said: “It was very brave of Mr Cartledge to lay himself open to all and sundry, and it was good to see how effective our council is in achieving so much with so few resources.
“All were heartened to hear how much we have moved forward in our town, bucking trends in other places. Burnley is indeed a great place to be and we do accomplish so much when we work together for the good of all.”