SUPPORTERS of one of East Lancashire's largest-ever community cohesion efforts are waiting to hear if funding for a £550,000 extension will be granted.

Hundreds of people have been involved in drawing up the Good Neighbours Project, which has been backed by Building Bridges Pendle.


And now senior councillors have backed the initiative, promoters of the far-reaching scheme are waiting to hear back from the Big Lottery Fund.

Several aspects of Good Neighbours, which has been discussed in churches, mosques and council offices across the borough, are aimed at bringing people from diverse backgrounds together.

This will range from 'Community Conversations', a series of public debates on topical issues, at various venues across Nelson, Colne, Brierfield and Barnoldswick, to a primary school twinning effort.

Another key component, 'Connecting Communities', will see up to 100 people from different backgrounds brought together for major cultural or family celebrations, in community halls.

Plans will also be pulled together for a 'Good Neighbours Day', to be scheduled for a date in summer, which could involve up to 1,000 people in the planning and be part of a borough-wide programme of cohesion-themed events.

Rauf Bashir, project manager at Building Bridges Pendle, said: "This has been in development since last April and we've held a number of public meetings.

"The whole idea has grown and grown and if it comes off then it could be massive for Pendle. If we get confirmation of the funding then it would begin in July."

The principal sum, £400,000, would come from the Big Lottery, with a £100,000 pledge from the Bowland Trust secured and Pendle Council agreeing support totalling £30,000, to underscore the other grants.

Cllr Mohammed Iqbal, Pendle Council leader, said: "Building Bridges Pendle has done great work in bringing this together and our £30,000 will help to trigger the remaining funding.

"Their track record shows how what they have achieved in this area and we are very happy to support the Good Neighbours Project for the future."

If approved by lottery chiefs, the project would run from this July to June 2021. So far it has reached the second stage of deliberations and a final decision is expected soon.

Four consultation events have taken place over the past year - two at the Ghausia mosque in Nelson and one each at Nelson Baptist Church and St Luke's CE Church in Brierfield.

Geoff Whitehead, the borough council's neighbourhood services manager, said: "The approach will place people at the forefront of community engagement and participation – local people, taking local action.

"The activities will engage individuals, families and members of the black ethnic minority and faith communities, within varying cultural and socio-economic backgrounds."

Funding would also see the continuation of Pendle's Community Cohesion Action Network, which features 35 organisations from the community, police, schools, youth and health services, housing, arts groups and faith bodies.

Work on the 'Good Neighbours' theme in Pendle has previously focused on primary schools, with eight brought together under a similar lottery-backed integration exercise.

And last year more than 500 people attended a series of gatherings at Brierfield Mills, one involving sufi chanting, which was designed to foster the same kind of relationships.

The Big Lottery Fund is expected to decide whether to award the funding in the coming months.