Norwich leader wants to work with churches
Norwich City Council leader Cllr Alan Waters has expressed a desire to see Norwich transformed - with the help of local faith groups - at a meeting with church leaders.
Cllr Waters spoke to around 25 Norwich church leaders at a meeting organised by Norwich churches together group Transforming Norwich on December 2.
“One of our reasons to be cheerful is the work that we do with the church community across Norwich,” he said. “I spend a lot of my time as a ward councillor and leader working with churches.”
Cllr Waters warned that funding changes are coming in Norwich which mean that the City Council will be providing minimal services by 2020, “although we are doing everything we can to push that back,” he said.
“Our history has seen a series of effective partnerships and I think that is a good thing. This period is an opportunity to think about those relationships and we are looking at tapping into the resources of the city and asking ‘How can we make the city a better place’. It is an interesting journey that we will go on together. I think we can do some really transformative things. Transforming Norwich is possible and we should work on it collectively together.”
Cllr Waters floated the idea of a Round Table about food poverty in Norwich, including churches, making the foodbank issue a catalyst and an opportunity to talk the issues through and to do something really exciting and imaginative.
“We also want to hear the voices of young people more,” he said. “The links churches have with young people are probably more comprehensive that anyone else has across the city.”
The Transforming Norwich meeting also saw the launch of the results of the Cinnamon Faith Action Audit in Norwich, which revealed that 43 Norwich-based faith groups between them reported running 388 social action projects for the benefit of 85,320 people outside of their own membership group, during 2014.
This work was run by 215 paid staff and 3,921 volunteers, putting in a staggering 810,000 hours of work and, using the Living Wage rate of £7.85 an hour, plus some additional resources, the financial value of this project work is around £6.7 million.
“The Cinnamon report is a mirror reflection of what we at the city council aspire to do,” said Cllr Waters. “Our responsibility is the well-being, betterment and happiness of the citizens of Norwich.”
Cllr Waters mentioned a couple of examples of church social action he was aware of.
“Churches were involved with us in helping people fill in job applications for the new Asda store for example and churches are involved in our big piece of strategy work on inequality – which is the blight of our society and influences everything – it is the great challenge of our time,” he said.
“As a Council it is our aspiration to bring in the Living Wage in the city – but we cannot do that by ourselves. We want to use all of the channels that we have, and channels into the churches and faith groups are really important.
“How do we make sure that people live the life that God intended – that is the moral dilemma of our time,” he concluded.
Chair of Transforming Norwich, Danny Doran-Smith, said: “We share Cllr Waters’ desire to see Norwich transformed and are keen to engage in a dialogue with the Council and anyone else who wants to work with the Norwich Christian community.”
Danny is planning a meeting to take this initiative further and if you want to be involved, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Pictured above is Cllr Alan Waters addressing church leaders at the Transforming Norwich meeting.