This week members of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) delegation on Faith and Society visited Birmingham as part of a project to determine how faith-based initiatives are helping the disadvantaged in cities across the United Kingdom. They also aimed to promote and foster positive community growth.
Members of the APPG that visited Birmingham included delegation leader Stephen Timms MP, Jim Dobbin MP, Baroness Kathleen Richardson, Lord Sheikh and Sir Peter Bottomley, all of whom have made the commitment to bring different faiths together to serve the best interests of the people.
The delegation visited faith centers in Birmingham such as the city's Central Mosque and Central Synagogue to discuss with faith leaders how to better serve the needs of those most in need while furthering God's message.
"The aim of the group is to highlight and explore the positive contributions being made by faith groups in U.K. communities and overseas, to aid understanding and recognition of this movement of faith-based activism, and to learn from international best practice," Stephen Timms, APPG's Faith and Society chair, told The Christian Post during an interview.
"We will also look to press in Parliament for a legislative and regulatory environment which will enable the full potential of these organizations to be realized and sustained," he added.
The APPG's delegation on Faith and Society was created in 2012 in order to determine the measurable impact that faith-based organizations had on the surrounding landscape. It has been committed to highlighting the contributions that faith-based initiatives have within the community.
The APPG is tasked with efficiently maximizing and understanding the impact of varied social projects in conjunction with the rise in "social activism" in the U.K. Food banks, employment support, health care and programs aimed at serving the youth and vulnerable are all areas they study.
"We held a number of roundtables which explored the work of faith-based groups in communities by focusing on the following themes: welfare to work; children and young people; health and well-being; and international work," Timms said.
Timms was also eager to reveal that recent work being done involved providing food to those struggling with finding enough to eat. The work was being facilitated through food banks and has seen all manner of people give their time.
"Three new food banks open every week at the moment, and they fed between them half a million people last year. They involve volunteers who may have no connection with the church, but there is a church at the heart of each of them. Without that, their remarkable impact would not have been possible," he said.
The APPG is growing fast and already has over eighty members from both sides of the political spectrum in the House of Commons and House of Lords. With increasing interest, the coming year will see the development of a "charter" to secure the confidence of locals working in unison with the APPG and other faith-based organizations, given the relatively recent rise of APPG's notability.
"Many of the groups we have spoken to have reported that local authorities are often uneasy about … commissioning services from faith-based organizations, and we think a charter could help," Timms added.