Dozens of London’s faith groups were represented at the London Faith & Belief Community Awards ceremony at Westminster Abbey this week.
The event highlighted the important and inspiring work they’re doing in their local communities.
Around 300 people attended the ceremony on Wednesday which honoured 38 projects in categories ranging from environmental sustainability to community resourcefulness in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Christian charity Growing Hope Brockely won an award in the inspiring youth category.
The organisation provides free therapy for children and young people with additional needs in Lewisham and Southwark and is run in partnership with St Peters Church, Brockley where the clinic is based.
Shaaron O’ Driscoll, clinical manager at Growing Hope Brockley, said it was “incredible and such an honour” to win an award.
She also told Premier about how vital their services are.
“We have families who have come in who have said they know that there's something wrong with their children, or that they're really struggling to get them to go to school or struggling with just daily tasks. They've applied for services, but they have been waiting for almost two years for some of them and they’re just feeling really hopeless, feeling really isolated, feeling really alone.
“For some of them, they've had assessments and they know that the child now has a diagnosis, but just have no idea how to help them and support them, what strategies to use. and what to do going forward.
“Our service helps to bring families hope and to know what to do with their children, how best to help them to be able to understand their children in some cases, and just offer them strategies and work through things so that they have something to do and something to be able to work with.”
O’Driscoll added that although they serve people of all faiths or none, the gospel shines through in their work.
“We've had families who don't know Jesus, who will come back and say, because you prayed for me, this and this has changed and I can't stop telling my friends about the difference that it's made.
“That's been really impactful. I think I've worked in other services where I haven't been able to share my faith. And although therapy is important and significant, I can't change their social circumstances. But we know that through prayer, things can change, so that's been really significant.”
The Awards are an initiative of the Faith & Belief Forum and supported by Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Greater London’s Council on Faith. It was set up to “demonstrate how Londoners of all faiths and beliefs can work together for a fairer and more inclusive city”. Each winning project got £500 to further their work.
Phil Champain, the Director of the Faith & Belief Forum, said:“Faith and belief groups are at the centre of community life in London, providing vital services and support to those in need and a strong sense of belonging to their members and beneficiaries. We believe that the power of collaborative faith and belief based social action needs to be supported, recognised, and celebrated.”