Faith unit launched by Charity Commission

The Charity Commission will today launch its Faith and Social Cohesion Unit, a dedicated team that will provide support and advice to religious charities.

The idea of a dedicated unit for faith-based organisations came from a two-year consultation exercise designed to further understanding between the regulator and the 25,000 religious charities.

The regulator met representatives of more than 800 faith-based organisations from 11 different faiths, including Islam, Sikhism, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Zoroastrianism.

The workshops suggested there was a strong desire from all faiths for more face-to-face interaction, better governance guidance and more training for their trustees, something the new unit will be able to help with.

The unit will start working with Muslim charities. Suzi Leather, chair of the Charity Commission, said: “Not only is Islam Britain’s second-largest faith, but time and time again Muslim charities have asked us for help in strengthening their governance and tackling lack of understanding and mistrust of their work within society. We have a duty to increase public trust and confidence in all charities operating in England and Wales.”

The eight-strong unit will be headed by Ghulam Rasool, a qualified teacher who has previously worked on interfaith initiatives and capacity building with religious charities. It will also receive advice from a new Faith Advisory Group, which includes a number of external advisers.

The project is partly funded by a two-year, £1.2m grant from the Department of Communities and Local Government.

The launch of the unit comes a week after the commission published a summary of the responses it received to its consultation on public benefit. This revealed that religious charities were concerned about their ability to meet the requirements.

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