London religion leaders collect to debate well being inequalities within the capital

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A groundbreaking new initiative, led by the Bishop of London Sarah Mullally, brings together leaders from all London faith communities to discuss the city’s health inequalities and explore how faith groups can and do contribute to the health of the community.

The Health Inequalities Action Group (HIAG), which brings together the Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish and Sikh communities across London, met at St on a series of policy recommendations to improve health outcomes in the capital over the next year.

Participants spoke about the difficulties in accessing health care in their communities and shared experiences from the COVID-19 pandemic where faith communities have stepped up to provide support where government action has not been able to. Participants agreed that as communities flourish, there is a responsibility to “up-educate” religious leaders and train them to address health inequalities, with places of worship potentially becoming a “one-stop shop” for people to access spiritual, to receive physical and mental support.

The session included a keynote address by Dr. Joan Myers OBE, a Trustee of the Florence Nightingale Foundation, who spoke about the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, in which people have emerged from ‘silos’ and shown extraordinary partnership and resilience. She pointed to the incredible work of community care services, which help support local churches and Christian organizations to support people and communities to maintain their health and well-being.

HIAG was founded on a belief that the value of faith communities as a common good is not being fully appreciated in public discourse, and from an agreement between London’s faith leaders that collective action is needed to realize the potential of faith communities to improve health outcomes in the capital .

The event will be followed by a second town hall on March 28 at the East London Mosque, where more testimony will be heard and evidence collected on how inequalities in London affect health. HIAG will then develop a set of policy recommendations that will be published and submitted to the government.

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

“Health inequalities in our city have never been more evident than in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, but these deep-seated structural imbalances emerged well before 2020. Faith groups play a valuable role in addressing these inequalities and delivering important health messages. I’ve seen firsthand the transformative power that trusted leaders can have when they translate health messages to their communities, from vaccine hesitation to mental health and well-being. City Hall has really emphasized 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 about practical steps that can be taken to address health inequalities, which has permeated society for too long.”

Sheikh Mohammed Mahmoud OBE, Imam of East London Mosque commented:

“It was heartwarming to see such respected leaders from across London’s religious communities come together to discuss this issue. In all places of worship, including my own, faith leaders have a really important and influential role in addressing the pervasive health inequalities we see today.”

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Notes for editors

The Bishop of London’s Action Group on Health Inequalities brings together interfaith MPs

Leaders, health professionals and civil society leaders to:

  • discuss how inequalities in London affect health
  • Identify actions as reactions
  • To study and develop the discourse on the relevance of faith groups to community health
  • Advocate the role of faith groups in improving health

The group membership is as follows:

  • dr Calvin Moorley – Lecturer and Practitioner
  • Jo Bibby – Director of Health, Health Foundation
  • Lord Bishop of London DBE – Chair of the Church of England COVID Recovery Group and former Chief Nursing Officer at the Department of Health
  • Pastor Verona Crossfield – Senior Pastor at Freedom Worship Center
  • dr Deesha Chadha OBE – Co-Chair of Faiths Forum for London and Senior Lecturer at Imperial College London
  • Sheikh Mohammed Mahmoud OBE – Imam of the East London Mosque
  • Leonie Lewis MBE – Vice Chair of Faiths Forum for London, Vice President of the United Synagogue
  • Rita Chadha – Director of City Sikhs
  • Baroness Tyler of Enfield

For more information please contact the Diocese of London media team at [email protected]zeroluther.co.uk.

To register to attend the second Town Hall session on March 28, please reserve your seat here