The well-known saying “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” is at the heart of a new initiative being developed this year by Building Bridges Pendle, the local cohesion, education and interfaith charity.
With funding from Westhill Foundation Trust, the charity is co-ordinating support from churches and mosques across Pendle to work together to provide food and provisions for a Food Bank to support individuals and families in need.
The organisers have called the project “Food Bank Plus” because it goes beyond the collection and distribution of food – very important though this is.
It’s about encouraging and twinning different parts of the local communit - mosques, churches, their congregations, volunteers and supporters - to collaborate and come together to help those most in need in the wider community at a time when austerity and hard times are hitting the most vulnerable in our society.
As Bob McDonald, manager at Building Bridges Pendle, said: “Our organisation has a long track record in its interfaith and cohesion work, and we are always looking for innovative ways to promote this work locally and to demonstrate that our diverse communities in Pendle share many common interests and causes.
“Food Bank Plus is a very practical way in which our Christian and Muslim organisations and communities can work together to help out families in need at a difficult economic time for many.”
Building Bridges Pendle is working with Community Solutions Lancashire Ltd and Open Door in Colne to facilitate the distribution of food and prepared meals for local people and a number of churches and mosques have enthusiastically joined in, encouraging donations and voluntary help from their supporters and congregations.
Churches and mosques are effectively twinning with each other in Colne, Brierfield and Nelson as part of the overall Food Bank Plus initiative. These include Colne Mosque, Trinity Baptist Church and St Bartholomew’s Church in Colne; Sultania Mosque and St Luke’s Church in Brierfield and Al Hira Mosque and Ghausia Madrassah on Smith Street in Nelson.
The “Plus” bit of “Food Bank Plus” is all about the experience of collaboration and how different churches and mosques can learn from working together with each other in a common cause.
In early autumn, members from all the organisations involved in Food Bank Plus are going to meet up and share their experiences so far, discuss how they can take things forward and draw on valuable lessons on collaboration in the future.
All the food donated goes to local people on a referral basis and the churches and mosques support doesn’t end there – they can also offer moral and spiritual support in other ways to those individuals and families who would like further contact and support, or signpost them to other organisations for help.
As Afzaal Mahmood, community development officer at Building Bridges Pendle, added: “We know other food collection initiatives are taking place across the whole region.
“We’ve been keen not to re-invent any wheels but have fitted our project into some of the existing distribution networks.
“The difference for us is that Food Bank Plus is a really good example of practical community cohesion work which we think will help build positive relationships between local communities for the future as well.”
Further details can be obtained from Building Bridges Pendle on 719303.