Leeds signed the Covenant on 5th March 2015.
Here is a perspective from Leeds City Council on their involvement in the process.
What has the Council been up to since adopting the Covenant?
Leeds City Council is interested in training and equipping faith groups to engage more often and more effectively with the local authority. It is also keen to engage more faith groups in involving their communities in sport and physical activity. Public health officials in the city are developing an effective framework for working with faith groups.
Which Council departments were involved in the signing?
Equality (part of Citizens and Communities), all other Directorates and services in terms of implementation.
Why did Leeds choose to adopt the Covenant?
Leeds originally took part in a piece of research work undertaken by Leeds University looking at Religion or Belief and the Big Society. Participants from both the third sector and the Council raised questions about their relationship. There was a lack of awareness of what both sides could and would do in terms of the provision of services and especially faith organisations’ roles within that. The Council took the decision to develop a local Covenant to provide some clarity and reassurance to both sides in terms of what they could expect from the relationship and to break down some of the cultural resistance to working together.
Do you have any advice for others regarding the Covenant?
Take your time. Its better to get it right rather than get something done quickly. Take the time to explain what you are hoping to achieve to all the parties concerned. Then explain it again and again until you are sure people are clear as to why you are taking this approach. You need to get buy-in from your political and officer leadership as well as from the leadership within your faith third sector to make the Covenant a living document that effects real change. Once you have signed a Covenant, make sure you keep the momentum going. Ensure regular and transparent scrutiny of your progress in implementing it.