Leaders from across London’s faith communities joined together at East London Mosque, Whitechapel for a Town Hall event as part of the Bishop of London’s Health Inequalities Action Group. The group shared their experiences of the city’s health inequalities and explored how faith groups can and do contribute to the health of their communities.

The group heard from Jeremy Simmons of Faith Action, a national network of faith and community organisations, on the work of the Faith Health Assistance Partnership in Tower Hamlets. The partnership brought together the East London Mosque, Tower Hamlets Council and Tower Hamlets Interfaith Forum to provide community health support. The group also heard from Ranjeet Kaile of South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and Abigail Oyedele of Citizens UK on their work with faith and community groups, including helping to provide mental health support.

The Bishop of London, The Rt Revd and Rt Hon Dame Sarah Mullally, said:

“Health inequalities across our city have never been more apparent than in the aftermath of the Coronavirus pandemic, but these deep-seated structural imbalances long predated 2020. Faith groups have a valuable role to play in addressing these inequalities and communicating important health messages. I’ve seen firsthand the transformative power that trusted leaders can have in translating health messages to their communities to their communities, from vaccine hesitancy to mental health and wellbeing. The Town Hall at East London Mosque emphasised to me the importance of active collaboration between faith groups, and I hope that the Action Group will be able to inform policymakers, faith leaders and clinicians with practical steps that can be taken to address the health inequalities that have pervaded society for too long.”

Professor Calvin R Moorley RN PhD, Chair of Diversity and Social Justice and member of St John’s Hoxton Church

“Faith organisations are uniquely placed to address health inequalities in their local communities. This Town Hall demonstrates the commitment to reducing health disparities and the role of faith organisations in this quest. Going forward, faith communities will need to be equipped with the fundamentals of public health and health promotion to effect change.”

Ranjeet Kaile, Executive Director for Communications at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust

“Working with faith communities is integral to building trust and providing the support needed to improve access to community health services. South London Listens is a great example of working in partnership with local authorities, the wider NHS, and community organisations like Citizens UK and Healthwatch, to understand what our communities need and how we can best serve them. Together, we can prevent a crisis in mental health as a direct result of Covid-19.”

 Dr Deesha Chadha, Faiths Forum for London

“This event brings together people who understand the issues affecting communities, so that they can speak to each other and speak to power. That is why it is so important.

“The event allows us to connect ideas and share experiences, and highlights to us that, in a diverse group of people, we have many shared values. It is inspiring to be reminded of all that we share.”

 The HIAG has been founded with the belief that the value of faith groups as a community asset is not fully appreciated in public discourse, and from an agreement between London’s faith leaders that collective action is needed to fully realise the potential of faith communities in improving health outcomes in the Capital. The Town Hall was the second in a series of events gathering testimony from Londoners. Later this year, the HIAG will then identify a series of policy recommendations, which will be published and presented to government.