FaithAction are a national network of faith-based organisations involved in social action projects. We exist to unlock the potential of the faith-based and community sector in helping create happier, healthier communities.
We do this by offering support, advice and training – we help the ‘doers’ do. We also have a key role in facilitating partnerships, sharing good practice between organisations and between sectors, and acting as a connector between government and grassroots organisations.
We have recently begun a programme of work exploring the role of faith-based organisations in suicide prevention, as part of our work under the VCSE Health and Wellbeing Alliance, a national partnership aiming to bring the voices of communities into health and care policymaking.
How does your organisation contribute to preventing suicide and supporting those affected by it?
We help raise awareness of the role for faith-based organisations in preventative work around health and care inequalities, including mental health/suicide, through research and practice. We also help broker cross-sector partnerships that ensure seldom-heard communities can be included in local and national prevention strategies.
We develop reports, resources and campaigns to enable faith-based organisations to work in partnership with local statutory agencies and public health.
What are your current priorities?
We are currently working in partnership with faith-based charities to develop a national suicide prevention resource for local health and care professionals, and helplines. We are interested in learning from organisations and people of faith about the relationship between faith and suicide, and reflecting this learning in the resource. This will likely cover such things as: understanding stigma and differing faith/cultural approaches to suicide; information on local faith/community assets and why/how to work in partnership with faith and community groups.
Charities currently involved in the project cover six different faiths (Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Jewish and Christian). The resource will be developed throughout Summer/Autumn of 2023 and launched nationally in early 2024.
What challenges are you currently facing?
There is a great deal of interest and willing within the faith-based sector to engage in partnership work around this important issue, but finding funding and resource to enable this work remains a challenge.
The relationship between faith and suicide is little understood due to a limited amount of research/activity in this area.
Longstanding inconsistencies in the collection of ethnicity and faith data in healthcare settings means it can be challenging to fully understand the relationship between faith and inequalities across health and care, including suicide and mental health.