FAITH LEADERS in Bradford met over the weekend to discuss what they can do to support the most vulnerable amid the cost of living crisis.

The roundtable discussion, organised by Strengthening Faith Institutions (SFI), was at Manningham Mills Community Centre on Saturday, and was attended by more than 50 community leaders.

They spoke about ways places of worship can be used to support the needs of local communities, with suggestions on how food and essential items can be delivered to families in poverty, and on how churches, mosques and temples can be used as safe spaces where people can keep warm to avoid having to pay high energy bills.

“Faith centres need to be more visible during this time of crisis,” said Dr Bashir, an SFI safeguarding consultant, who was at the event.

“Churches, mosques, gurdwaras and temples across Bradford are willing to help people who are struggling. Faith leaders are keen to offer their own time to help and support people, as well as local charities and food banks.

“Faith institutions can play very important roles in how our community responds in times of economic challenge.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The event on SaturdayThe event on Saturday (Image: SFI)

There was also discussion on how faith centres can help to improve safeguarding and spot signs of abuse.

“There is a strong correlation between poverty and children suffering abuse, sexual exploitation or neglect,” Dr Bashir explained.

“The greater the economic hardship, the higher the likelihood and severity of safeguarding concerns.

“Parenting is challenging at the best of times, but when basic needs cannot be met, the pressure under which parents are trying to raise their children is also inevitably raised.

“The choices being faced by so many parents are difficult – whether to provide food or heating, or missing their own meals to make sure their children are fed.

“In Bradford, however, there are initiatives and projects from places of faith that help people to find what they need to live.”

Dr Bashir added that local places of worship are now willing to extend the work they do in order to step up amid the financial crisis.

“At the event, faith leaders gave their commitment to treat people with dignity and respect and to train volunteers and staff to meet their needs,” he said.

“For those of us in the fortunate position of not having to worry about how we will afford our next meal, giving something to a food bank each time we shop will make a big difference to those who do.”