Strengthening Faith Institutions to Launch Peer Action Learning

Bradford’s faith institutions and places of worship have had to adapt rapidly to changing conditions for their work and services amidst Covid-19.

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted faith institutions and places of worship. Some of the traditional services shifted to online and many faith institutions will face challenges adapting to post-Covid-19 situation and landscape and cope with financial constraints in a rapidly changing landscape.   

The Strengthening Faith Institutions (SFI), in partnership with local faith institutions, has launched a pioneering peer-to-peer initiative, Peer Action Learning (PAL), to work together, learn, share, and network to recover from the challenges posed by the Covid-19.

‘The PAL will work with faith leaders in the same field, providing similar services (hence called “peers”) who will come together to discuss their individual challenges to find solutions through mutual discussion. It is a solution-focused approach to organisational development’, said Dr. Javed Bashir, SFI Consultant and facilitator of PAL.

‘The PAL network is for trustees/management committee members/senior managers/other representatives from diverse faith organisations and together they have formed that we refer as Peer Action Learning or PAL Network’, said Dr. Bashir.  

‘At each meeting, one or two of the members will present an issue that they wish others’ views on. The meetings will follow Chatham House rules where anything discussed at a meeting is NOT ascribed to anyone so everyone can speak freely. This way, PAL will offer a safe and supportive space where members will have the time to reflect on their situation, consider the desired outcomes, and plan how this can be achieved, said Dr. Javed Bashir.

‘The PAL will provide a safe and support environment with and input of peers. Members decide which issue or task that you want to address in each session’, said Dr. Bashir.

‘The PAL will be supported by expert staff at SFI and academics at the University of Bradford with new skills and approaches to problem solving which hopefully will result in a well thought out decisions and actions leading to positive outcomes’, said Professor Zahir Irani, Deputy Vice Chancellor of University of Bradford and Chair Bradford’s Economic Recovery Board.  

‘Places of worship from different faiths will be able to apply for funding a common project. It could be cleaning up the local neighbourhood of litter, providing a joint food bank/hub service for the disadvantaged people in their area, or a safety campaign for school children, etc. SFI consultants will provide more information and help with funding application’, said Dr. Bashir.  

‘It is a great initiative which is very timely and much needed as many places of worship desperately need help, guidance, and support to continue with their services’, said Pastor Isaac Shofoluwe, of the Redeemed Christian Church of God Chapel of His Glory.

‘We welcome PAL and its great way of engaging with other faith leaders and learning from them.  This will not only benefit our churches but also build community cohesion’, said Rev. Nathan Javed of Grace Baptist Churches.

‘This is a great platform to work together with different faith leaders and I believe that this is very innovative and other faith institutions from around the country will learn from this’, said

Written By: Agnese Giardini 

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