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Southwark is estimated to have the highest concentration of Pentecostal churches in all of Western Europe, which highlights the importance of engaging faith leaders to support positive health behaviour in their communities.
Professor Kevin Fenton and Cllr Evelyn Akoto opened the event with inspiring talks about Southwark's innovative and trailblazing values. They spoke of the council's priority to think differently about new ways to connect meaningfully with each other, to drive wellbeing and prosperity.
Two panel discussions were held; one for attendees to delve deeper into objectives of this Faith and Health initiative, and the other to find out about the success and challenges encountered by faith leaders when delivering their health projects. The general consensus amongst the faith leaders on the panel, was that they first had to 'bust myths' about foods and illness, and find a balance between healthy practices and spiritual beliefs
A key point highlighted from faith leaders on the panel, was how positive of an experience it has been working with groups from different faiths, as one community in Southwark. There is power in connections and the projects were proof that the sky is the limit for what can be achieved in working together.
Feedback from faith leaders and other attendees of collaboration and sharing highlighted the importance of the faith community in the Southwark, and their willingness to continue working together to improve the health and wellbeing of their congregations and local communities.
"With over 400 faith organisations working within the borough, the council must therefore work with congregation leaders to ensure our decisions benefit people in the borough, including some they couldn't otherwise reach." - Cllr Evelyn Akoto
"The want for good health is universal and sickness is a common enemy for all." - Shola Oladipo from Food for Purpose
"We were not connected with Southwark at all... these challenges taught us the value of interfaith working relationships." - Betty Evans, Dulwich New Testament Assembly
"We're trying to make it happen ourselves, whether or not help comes. We're fortunate to have many health professionals in our congregation." - Abdul Malik, Muslim Association of Nigeria U.K