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Mayor signs WMCA up to Faith Covenant

Published: Wednesday 20 Sep 2023

The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has strengthened its commitment to improving the quality of life for all of the region’s different communities by signing the Faith Covenant.

The Faith Covenant is a joint commitment by faith communities, local authorities and other stakeholders to a set of principles that promote open, practical working on all levels.

Signed by Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA chair, the covenant commits the WMCA to working even more collaboratively and consistently with diverse faith communities to deliver a better connected, more prosperous, fairer, greener, and healthier region.

The signing took place at an event at Walsall College where the leaders of Sandwell and Walsall councils also added their names, with Dudley committing to doing so.

Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Solihull and Coventry have already signed the covenant.

This means that the West Midlands is now leading the way when it comes to engaging with faith groups and builds on the strong inter-faith relationships already established by the WMCA through the Faith Strategic Partnership Group.

Man looking at the camera and smiling in front of a map of the West Midlands

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the West Midlands Combined Authority, signs the Faith Covenant.

The Mayor said: “From the very outset of my time as Mayor, we’ve recognised the tremendous role that communities of faith play right across our region.

“Ensuring that all communities have a strong voice helps us to achieve our vision of a fairer, healthier and more prosperous West Midlands.

“Thanks to our Faith Strategic Partnership Group and more recently by becoming the first combined authority in the country to sign the Faith Covenant, efforts are already very much underway to further strengthen inter-faith interactions.

“But we know that we can do even more - working in collaboration with the incredibly dynamic and diverse region we’re blessed to call home. That’s what we will and must do in the months and years ahead.”

The WMCA set up the Faith Strategic Partnership Group to bring together representatives from the region’s different religions and ethnicities.

Members of the group have identified priority areas and drawn up strategies to tackle these from a faith perspective. Priority areas include homelessness, education, young people, mental health, employment, poverty, community relations and leadership.

To coincide with the signing of the covenant, the Faith Strategic Partnership, in collaboration with The Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues, hosted a conference, Faith & Virtues: A Virtue-Based Approach to Interfaith Relations in the West Midlands, at Edgbaston Stadium on Thursday, 20 September.

The Mayor opened the conference before delegates took part in workshops titled Finding Common Ground, Shared Virtues As a Force For Good, and Looking to the Future.

Amrick Singh Ubhi, chair of the Faith Strategic Partnership Group, chair of the Council of Sikh Gurdwaras, Birmingham and director of civic engagement and partnerships at the Nishkam Centre, said: “Faith groups offer a huge advantage to public agencies. They are anchor organisations, are trusted partners, they are rooted in their communities, and they have a long-term perspective and longevity on their side.

“Faith groups cannot just be the fourth emergency service in times of crises only – we must have long term engagement and relationship building. It’s about relationships, trust, partnering and working in collaboration.

“Faith groups reach, nurture, engage, uplift, represent, and work for the common good of all in society. They should be part of the solution not the problem as some would have us believe. The Faith Covenant paves the way for this engagement in the region.”

A large group of people in a meeting room smiling for the camera

Amrick Singh Ubhi, chair of the Faith Strategic Partnership Group, and Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA chair, centre, with representatives from faith groups, local authorities and other stakeholders at the Faith Covenant signing at Walsall College.

The chair thanked Faith Action, Rt Hon Sir Stephen Timms MP, the All-Party Parliamentary Faith Group, the Birmingham Faith Leaders Group and Birmingham City Council for trail blazing and being first to adopt the covenant nationally in 2014, the WMCA, and the Mayor for their work to agree and adopt the covenant.

Cllr Kerrie Carmichael, WMCA portfolio holder for inclusive communities, and leader of Sandwell Council, said: “The West Midlands is home to people from many communities of different cultures and faiths, making it one of the most diverse regions in the country.

“Signing the Faith Covenant is another important step for the WMCA and Sandwell Council to ensure inclusivity, equality and diversity are set into our policies to improve the lives of local people and ensure everyone benefits from the success of the region.”

For more information about the Faith Covenant on the APPG website.

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