The 2018 Community Cohesion Award finalists at Fusion come from a range of backgrounds.

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Blackburn with Darwen Interfaith Forum

Blackburn with Darwen Interfaith Forum work as a platform where members from all major faiths, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism and Judaism, work together to raise awareness promoting better understanding between people of faith or no faith in the community. 

This work continues to be of critical importance to the increasingly multicultural and multi-faith community. 

The three aims of the Forum are harmony, trust and shared respect to work together to foster understanding and cooperation between the faith communities in Blackburn with Darwen.

The second is engagement, participation and commitment- to increase understanding of the positive role that the faith communities can play in society.

And finally, community cohesion to improve the quality of life of local people by working together on agreed projects in order to demonstrate their commitment to working in partnership between people of different faiths.

The achievements of this organisation are largely products of the immense amount of hours and efforts dedicated by the forum members, the majority of whom are volunteers representing the six major faiths.

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The Deen Centre, Wirral

The Wirral Deen Centre is an inspirational charity and Islamic organisation open to the whole community to use for communal activities. The Centre was founded in August 2016 by a group of local British Muslims. It is volunteer driven and funded by donations.

A key element of the Centre is a weekly project called Fans Supporting Foodbanks, a feeding the homeless project. Fans Supporting Foodbanks was founded as a joint venture by the Everton and Liverpool supporters trusts. The project collects donations at every home game in the city.

The idea has spread to more than a dozen other clubs including the Wirral Deen Centre who is the only organisation who feed the homeless on the entire Wirral peninsula. 

The successful project has brought different communities together, forging some beautiful friendships. As well as serving food to local homeless people, the Centre provide shelter, warm clothing and hampers for vulnerable families. They have organised a whole host of events including ‘Taste Ramadan’ and an ‘Eid brunch’ inviting non-Muslims to the centre.

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Light Foundation

This non-profit organisation have been hosting a range of meaningful events and talks aiming to break down misconceptions of other religions.

The organisation are committed to offering support and companionship to Preston’s new Muslim community. 

Light Foundation hold monthly interfaith events where members and the local community are able to interact in the spirit of cohesion, respect and tolerance. These meetings offer a space for the local community to learn more about Islam and each other.

In the past year their pioneering work saw them raise £1,000 for the family of Saffie Rose, who was killed at the Manchester Arena terrorist attack. They have supported the Fox Street Homeless Kitchen, a project of the Central Methodist Church after they learnt that funding had been cut and visited the children’s ward at Royal Preston Hospital and the Sir Tom Finney Care Home. 

Among other things the group also arranged a series of Muslim and Christian Perspectives events during Preston Interfaith Week. 

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Out of the place and at the margins: A hundred songs for Kneeze and Vijay

Out of the place and at the margins: A hundred songs for Kneeze and Vijay is a moving art installation that pays tribute to mums who supported their sons' recovery from substance use.

The work was commissioned by Portraits of Recovery (PORe).

The bold neon artwork at Rochdale Interchange invites commuters to contemplate. The installation reads "listen to my pulse. And walk tall I, free like river water let me be." The work was created by artist Sutapa Biswas who is a senior lecturer at the Manchester School of Art.

Biswas worked with a small number of South Asian men in recovery from substance use from the Rochdale area. This continues her interest in the untold oral narrative of different communities.

The aim was to highlight the taboo nature of addiction within the South Asian community and in this instance, how a mothers' support was central to overcoming this much misunderstood health issue.

PORe is a visual arts charity founded by Mark Prest in 2011 which work with contemporary art and artists. 

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Ram Dhoon Bhajan Mandal

For the past 35 years a group of humble and modest men have been fundraising for various charities and groups locally, nationally and internationally and have succeeded in raising over £100,000.

Ram Dhoon Bhajan Mandal was formed in the 1980s and was founded by Purshottambhai Vara. 

The current members are Harjibhai Ladwa, Girdharbhai (Babubhai) Ghedia, Kishorbhai Pankhania, Ramnikbhai Vara, Dayabhai Vara, Chetanbhai Chavda and Mansukhbhai Pankhania. 

Ram Dhoon Bhajan Mandal are a music group with a focus on devotional singing. They hold events and support the bereaved and raise funds in a variety of ways.
The majority of their donations go to local causes in Bolton, supporting their local Bolton community being their prime aim.  They have also raised money for children suffering from terminal illnesses in Bury Hospice.

The group have also raised funds for international causes, including children in shelters, orphanages, helping the destitute, feeding the poor, supporting poor families who can’t afford to get their daughters married, widows and operations for children who would otherwise not get them.

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West Blackburn Faith Leaders Forum

In only a year this small group of individuals from different faiths have been helping to break down misconceptions between communities.

When Imam Fazal Hussan moved into the Beardwood area of Blackburn he noticed that Muslims and Christians and local churches and mosque communities were quite apart from each other and saw it important for more interaction and dialogue.  

He was invited to the St Silas Church and met with the Reverend, the bishop and the archdeacon and this led to the creation of ‘West Blackburn Faith Leaders Interfaith Forum.   

The key individuals now include Father James McCartney from Sacred Hearts which is a Roman Catholic Church and Rev Sheelagh Aston from St Silas Church of England who have taken it upon themselves to look at how different faiths can help inspire their communities.

The group have since hosted events where over 100 Muslims and Christians coming together under a common theme either in the local church and mosque to celebrate similarities.