Southend-on-Sea City Council has pledged its support to the Essex Faith Covenant (EFC).
Launched in October 2017, the EFC is part of a national initiative to encourage faith and community groups and public services to collaborate more closely in the care and provision for residents, especially those who are vulnerable, and to strengthen community cohesion.
Cllr Stephen George, leader of the council, said: “Southend is an inclusive and welcoming city. By pledging our support to the Essex Faith Covenant, the council is building on its existing work with the 70-member strong Southend Faith and Belief Network. The network supports multiple collaborations in areas such as homelessness, combating loneliness and poverty, COVID response and very successful events that have brought our diverse communities together such as Unite in Light and Eid in the Park.
“We are joining regional partners that have pledged to follow a joint vision that together we are stronger, and we recognise and value the benefits of diversity and inclusiveness in our city, where people from different backgrounds are valued and get on well together.”
Rob Polkinghorne, chief executive of the council, added: “The council’s equality objectives were reviewed earlier this year in consultation with residents and partner organisations and some of the most important issues identified were mental health and racial equality.
“We have witnessed the benefits that social cohesion can bring to underrepresented groups including those from disadvantaged communities, people with mental health issues and disabilities. We will work to bring equality, diversity and inclusion issues into sharper focus and seek out improvements to our services and work environment, and working with the Essex Faith Covenant will be an important part of the process.”
The Rev. Canon Ivor Moody, chair of the Essex Faith Covenant steering group, said: “I am delighted Southend-on-Sea City Council has pledged its support for the Essex Faith Covenant. This will greatly increase the scope and possibilities for the covenant.
“Since its launch many public services, organisations and faith groups have signed up to the covenant and begun real collaboration on various community projects to share ideas, resources, and training.
“This means that more people in Southend and across Essex, including minority groups, are having their voices heard and better services provided for them. An example being the early stages of development of an Essex Mind and Spirit Cluster Group in Southend looking at the connection between spirituality and wellbeing.”