Since I wrote this column last week, I have received an award from the Patchwork Foundation for my work with disadvantaged and faith communities. You can read about that here. It is always humbling when someone appreciates the work you do, especially when they are independent and experts in their field.
We are fortunate that south Manchester is a diverse place of many faiths, all working within our community, and it is great to be able to support all our different faiths, whether it is at a community day at a Buddhist temple, holding surgeries in the Didsbury and Burnage Mosques, taking part in a Hindu festival celebration at Ghandi Hall in Withington or supporting the charity work of the Jewish community providing food for those in need on Mitzvah Day.
Last week I attended the welcome and induction of the Rev Hayley Matthews as Rector of Holy Innocents church in Fallowfield. As someone who has been brought up in the church and is a weekly attendee at Chorlton Methodist Church,
I have always welcomed the opportunity to support these special services, or doing a reading at carol services in the Constituency. I also take part in a “prayer breakfast” a couple of times a year with churches from around the constituency to hear about their work in the local community and discuss my work in Parliament.
We live in a society where many politicians are people of faith, but equally, many are not. Alastair Campbell, the spin doctor of Tony Blair (who was well-known for his Christian faith), famously said “We don’t do God”.
Whether politicians have faith or not, I would hope that all politicians recognise the massive contribution that the faith communities make to our community.
They are at the heart of the local community, and they reach out to everyone, not just those of their own faith, whether it be throwing open their doors for the Didsbury Arts festival, or in the case of St Clement’s church in Chorlton, welcoming thousands of real ale and cider drinkers into church for the Chorlton beer festival.