Midland Mayor leads group discussions
People of all faiths and ethnic backgrounds came together to discuss how to make a difference in the community.
St Matthew's Church, based at East Park in Wolverhampton, hosted the Christian Community Conversation event on Thursday, September 27.
The event, which was organised by West Midlands Combined Authority, Black Country Churches Engaged and Transforming Communities Together, saw members of faith communities and organisations from all over the city attend.
After opening prayers by Rev Matt Hird and speeches by Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street and Transforming Communities Together Chair David Primrose, the attendees were split into groups and tasked with round discussions of three different areas.
The discussions, which were on the topics of Mental Health, Skills and Youth Unemployment and Homelessness, gave each table a chance to share best practice and listen to the challenges faced by different groups in their communities.
Andy Street participated in the discussions and spoke about the aims from the evening.
He said: "What I hope comes out of tonight, with all the ideas, is a clear follow up plan and David Primrose made this very clear, this hasn’t got to be a talk shop, this has got to be what ideas are there that we can take forward and one of the things I stress is we have people who are directly employed by the combined authority here tonight whose job it is to take forward actions in these places so that we can put all the output tonight with some people, which is great."
Mr Street also spoke about his pleasure at seeing so many religious groups being involved in the event.
He said: "It’s incredible to see so many different religious groups here this evening. One of the reasons I wanted to do this job is the West Midlands is the most diverse place in Britain, if not in Europe, and is diverse in every sense of that word, with communities, faiths, young, old, gay, straight, disabled, able-bodied, it is an incredibly rich situation and this is a real opportunity for us to show the rest of the country how we can build this tolerant community in which everybody thrives, so when I see tonight, it goes right back to that first narrative when I think, wow, there is such an opportunity for us here."
Transforming Communities Together will work to facilitate the workings of the group discussion, with Chair David Primrose saying the learnings from the discussion can help everyone going forward.
He said: "What we’re trying to do is to make sure that we learn from the experience we already have, so what people are sharing around, we’re going to note that experience, we’re going to make sure that as we go forward, it’s evidence-based and the other bit along that is people who want to take further any of our three particular topics will have a chance to meet together, learn from each other’s conversations that take place this evening and then say so how we’re going to make a difference."