It was a weekend of hope as representatives from communities from around the UK got together in February to discuss initiatives being undertaken to bring opportunities to deprived areas.
The occasion was the Hope in the Cities National Consultation, which this year took place in Liverpool in partnership with Liverpool Hope University. These consultations have been taking place since the 1980s and they 'strive to promote social inclusion through community cohesion, by emphasizing the importance of moral standards and empowering communities'. Participants came from London, Newcastle upon Tyne, Leeds, Huddersfield, Cardiff, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, and Nottingham.
Professor Gerald Pillay, Rector of Liverpool Hope University, gave the keynote welcome address. He described how the Anglican and Catholic churches in Liverpool had made a commitment through Hope University to regenerate deprived areas in the city. 'Our job is to create hope where there is hopelessness,' he said.
The university runs Network of Hope. One of its activities is providing courses for Muslim women in the nearby town of Blackburn who otherwise would not be able to attend university. 'By giving the communities a second chance, giving people dignity and empowering victims, everyone can benefit,' Pillay said.
Throughout the weekend the community leaders highlighted some of the projects in which their communities were involved.
Workshops were held on: 'Asylum seekers: integration, training and jobs', 'Police, youth and the community', and 'Enhancing trust in building community'.
By Ana Pereira