This project entitled, ‘Building Our Futures Together,’ came about at a time when we within Faith Matters, were working through the anti-Muslim backlash post the murder of drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich. Through the TELL MAMA project we understood first hand, the gulf between sections of our communities in England, both in terms of a lack of empathy and understanding and in the dissemination a set of narratives and perceptions that were diverging rather than converging. This has been troubling since the strength of a country is its state institutions and its communities and this is why when the Community Covenant gave us the opportunity to work with both the armed forces and diverse communities in London, we took the opportunity with both hands.
This project is based on bridging potential divides and ensuring that our armed forces have the chance to engage with and enter into dialogue and long term relationships with key social activists within diverse communities. For far too long, some young people in Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities have thought of the armed forces as not being relevant to their lives or have looked down at those serving in these institutions. A combination of fear, antipathy and perceived prejudice has meant that they have not taken the step to find out more about our armed forces. From the armed forces side, there is a realisation that an army needs to reflect the country it serves and sometimes has to listen to and engage with those who are its detractors. Yet, our armed forces undertake a range of services from aid distribution through to peace-keeping and front-line action and perceptions are rarely ‘black and white’ in nature. This is why this project is essential. To ensure that we can bridge divides and bring communities closer to those serving our country on a daily basis.