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ALL FAITHS AND NONE (AFAN) – Structure, Governance and Activities


Aims

AFAN is a broad-based national UK organisation, whose ‘Charitable Object’ is “the promotion of religious harmony for the benefit of the public”.  
Within that broad aim, its specific objectives are:
To educate the public, especially young people, in different religious and non-religious beliefs and practices;
To promote dialogue and mutual understanding between people of different faiths and beliefs;
To promote equality, human rights and non-discrimination among people of different faiths and beliefs.

Structure and Governance

AFAN is a registered charity (No. 1137477), with a board of seven trustees, including elected officers of chair, secretary and treasurer.  Trustees are drawn from different UK religious and non-religious traditions, not as official delegates, but as contributing representatives, committed to AFAN objectives. AFAN produces an Annual Report with accounts, which are approved by the Board, and submitted to the Charities Commission.

AFAN’s activities are delivered by a professional team of eight - a part-time coordinating tutor and specialist tutors. Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and Sikhs – as well as Humanists and Pagans – are represented on AFAN’s board and team. AFAN also has a national network of representatives and local contacts which enable it to deliver programmes anywhere in the country.

AFAN’s funding has come from a series of grants, initially from Government from 2006, subsequently from foundations and trusts, enabling the development of a comprehensive set of materials, available on the website ( www.afan.uk.net ), a teachers’ handbook, and provided funding for delivery of AFAN’s educational activities and for specific projects.

AFAN’s Management and  Activities

Since 2013, AFAN has merged its FE activities under a Single Management Structure with fbfe (the National Council for Faiths and Beliefs in Further Education) currently working to a three-year strategic plan. Fbfe is a registered charity (no 1126989) with its own Board of Trustees drawn from its National Council, which contains representatives from the major stakeholder organisations in FE, college principals and members drawn from a wide range of faith and belief communities. Fbfe’s purpose is to “encourage the FE sector to engage positively with issues of faith and belief”.

Fbfe’s management and administrative support for AFAN’s FE activities sit within fbfe’s wider role to promote SMSC across the FE sector as a whole.  This role includes relationships and project activities with stakeholder organisations (eg the Association of Colleges, 157 group of colleges, Ofsted, the Religious Education Council, and the Education and Training Foundation), advice and support for providers to embed SMSC within the FE curriculum, leadership and management, work to integrate SMSC into the wider Equality and Diversity agenda and influence SMSC-related policy developments across the sector. A recent conference organised by fbfe and the 157 group of college principals on “The Strategic Future of SMSC in FE and Skills”, explored potential partnership approaches for taking forward this vital agenda.

Within this wider context the fbfe/AFAN partnership provides direct smsc training for colleges, including workshops and dialogues, on (often controversial) topics of faith and values, and seminars and training sessions on the skills to handle these topics, usually in educational contexts at local level, though sometimes through seminars at national or regional level, often in partnership with other networks. AFAN’s major funded programmes have been with young people post-16, especially in Further Education, but there are also activities with adults and local communities.

The fbfe/AFAN partnership was commissioned to undertake a consultative and developmental project over 2013-14 by the new FE Development body, ETF (the Education and Training Foundation) to examine ways to support colleges in building up capacity to deliver SMSC in-house, given the lack of time and resources available in the current post-16 context. The aim is to build up a network of colleges as SMSC Hubs, working with clusters of local colleges to develop and share good practice.

AFAN is also the key partner to the European Network on Religion and Belief (ENORB), an umbrella network for organisations working with European institutions and across EU member states, now registered in Brussels, with a separate board, management and activities (see note below*).

AFAN/fbfe’s FE Programme: Objectives and Expectations for Colleges and the FE Sector

i) The fbfe/AFAN partnership were aware of the need to build strong relationships with the key national FE stakeholders if colleges were to be encouraged to commit to the continuation of SMSC as a normal component of college provision, in a climate where funding for activities to enrich student experience and provide for their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development was no longer available. The Association of Colleges and the National Union of Students were approached, and both have not only participated, but have provided resources to ensure the widest publicity and support for the programme, especially during the current phase 2 of the project, which is piloting the SMSC Hub network, the approach developed in the consultative phase of the project (See phase 1 report at: http://www.afan.uk.net/content/project-reports ).

ii) fbfe/AFAN Inputs to Colleges
The fbfe/AFAN team is therefore working with a group of pilot colleges to support the development of the SMSC hub network over a significant period, with specific inputs including:
CPD sessions for management and staff;
Demonstration workshops for students;
Specific training for student union representatives (from the NUS Community Cohesion and Faith team);
Support to initial cluster meetings of SMSC staff to develop and exchange good practice and maintain morale and skills in a difficult climate for this work.

iii) Expected outcomes for SMSC Hub colleges and the clusters of colleges around them are:
College management and a core of college staff with the confidence and skills to address controversial issues around faith and belief using the project materials and resources;
Student management and leadership aware of key faith and belief issues in the college and wider community;
A cluster of local colleges, each with a core group of staff trained in SMSC work, committed to mutual support and exchange of experience and good practice in the long term;
Access to ongoing support from the fbfe/AFAN team where required.



*AFAN European Activities

AFAN provided support to ENORB’s development, especially in the period 2010-12 up to ENORB’s registration as an ASBL (charitable association) and initial funding. ENORB now undertakes an annual programme of seminars, projects and publications on inter-faith matters and inter-convictional dialogue, with a key objective to promote equality, freedom and non-discrimination in the field of religion or belief/conviction. AFAN is UK partner to ENORB, supporting meetings and workshops where required.