The UK’s faith communities have been heralded as a “force for good” amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Faith Minister Lord Stephen Greenhalgh heaped praise on all faiths, as he recalled the incomparable help they offered people amid the crisis, as well as the support they constantly provided in pre-Covid times.
“Faith and our faith communities are a force for good and it has shown itself time and time again that we can rely on our faith communities to sort things out and get on with it,” he said during an interview with Daniel Singleton, national executive director of Faith Action.
“They don’t require instructions from any level of government to get going, they see that there’s a problem and they use great creativity and huge energy to make things better.
“I just want to say that I really appreciate that as Faith Minister and I just want to commend you for the work that has been done up and down the country to support local communities in what has been a very difficult time.”
Considering the role of faith in the UK as it begins its recovery from Covid-19, Lord Greenhalgh expressed his hope that the relationship between the State and faith communities is strengthened.
“I’d like to think that there’ll be an ever-changing better role and actually the relationship between the State and our faith communities is re-set to be far more positive,” he said.
He noted that the pandemic has really shone a light on how “faith communities are really appreciated not just by the public, quite rightly, but also by all levels of Government”.
Lord Greenhalgh said this particular moment is “a real chance” to build on Danny Kruger’s idea of a new deal between the Government and faith communities, which would see them work more closely on solving social issues.
Welcoming the MP for Devizes’ proposal, the peer said such a new deal that resets the relationship and provides a covenant of how society works to help and support each other would result in the country being “considerably stronger than it is today and build on all the successes we’ve had in this time of crisis”.
“I’m looking forward to thinking about how we pilot essentially a form of a faith new deal that encourages that innovation between the Government and our faith communities,” he added.
During the interview, Lord Greenhalgh also opened up on his Catholic faith and the loss of his mother to Covid-19.
He recalled how he had longed to go to the church where his mother went every week but it remained closed for much of last year.
“It was very, very emotional for me to go with my father in the first service after they opened up last year,” he said.
“I’ve reflected on my mother’s faith, her desire to see the best in people and it’s provided me with a sense of wanting to do the right thing in public life. It’s also been a source of comfort to feel closer to close family members who are no longer here…they are there in spirit if not in flesh.”
Picture: Faith Minister Lord Greenhalgh speaks with Daniel Singleton of Faith Action.