Redbridge Council leader requests emergency relief fund for places of worship

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Council leader Jas Athwal has requested the government create an emergency relief fund for places of worship to make up for the lack of donations while they are shut - Credit: Andrew Baker

Redbridge Council leader Jas Athwal has written to the government requesting an urgent Covid-19 relief grant for places of worship, to make up for the lack of donations they have received while they have voluntarily closed their doors.

In a meeting on January 5 various faith leaders across Redbridge said they would voluntarily close their doors on a temporary basis to prevent the spread of coronavirus even though places of worship are allowed to be open as long as they follow strict guidelines.

One concern which was raised in the meeting was the the financial impact of the drop in donations from limited footfall. 

Earlier this week Cllr Athwal wrote to Lord Greenhalgh, Minister of State at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) requesting an urgent relief grant so they could continue their activities online without fear of the financial impact it will have to keep their doors shut.

He wrote: "Places of worship have played a vital role in helping our most vulnerable residents throughout the pandemic. Our faith buildings play a key role in our communities, including the work they do with foodbanks, the homeless and providing pastoral care.

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"However, due to the rise of Covid-19 cases, faith leaders have acted responsibly to safeguard our communities despite the pressures they face financially.

"We value the role of faith in our lives, and it is critical the government does so too."

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A spokesperson for MHCLG told the Recorder that places of worship can take advantage of the existing funding support which are available to them.

"Places of Worship bring huge solace and comfort to people, especially during this challenging time.

"The government has provided a range of funding support packages during the pandemic, which are available to faith-based organisations and places of worship.

"We continue to work closely with senior faith leaders through the Places of Worship Taskforce.”

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