Northamptonshire’s police and crime commissioner says he would like to increase the budget of a new faith based community office to £500,000 a year.
More than 100 people met at Highgate House today to celebrate the work completed by the new Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives (OFBCI) since it was launched by Northants Police at the start of last year.
The office currently has an annual budget of £70,000, which is funded by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, and used to provide support for faith-based as well as secular community organisations in the county.
In the past 12 months, OFBCI has provided funding and support for 17 organisations including the New Ark Foundation, a Northampton-based youth outreach programme, a social behaviour project run by the Umbrella Fair at the Racecourse pavilion and Crime2Christ, a family intervention project in the county.
Adam Simmonds, police and crime commissioner, said he would like to increase the budget to £500,000 and wanted the office to became a long term project that would last 25 years.
Mr Simmonds, who is a Christian, said it was “not about promoting his faith” as money would be provided to any secular organisation that helped make Northamptonshire a safer place.
He said: “Faith-based and community initiatives have extensive reach into their communities. They have networks of volunteers and resources.
“They are the people in the communities that we serve and are key players in community safety. Working closer with these organisations enables them and us to tackle crime better and create safer communities.
“The work of this office isn’t exclusively about faith. It is about any community group or initiative that we can support, whether that is with funding or advice, to move them closer towards a safer community.”
Helen Boardman, director of the OFBCI, said she had been reaching out to the Sikh, Hindu, Muslim and Jewish communities in the county to help raise awareness of the office’s work.
She said: “Faith-based and community leaders are champions of public safety, they are an invaluable asset to our county and we need to work alongside them to harness their experience.
“The OFBCI wants to capitalise on these valuable and unique contributions so that together we can create innovative approaches to helping Northamptonshire to become the safest place in England.”