Josh CassJosh Cass, 3FF Deputy Director

Who would have thought that nine months could go by so quickly! It seems like only yesterday that Rachel Silveira and I were discussing her hand over to me, and now, well, now the roles are reversed and come early September Rachel will be back in post as Deputy Director.

One of the things that I was responsible for while in post was collating our latest Annual Report which will shortly be with the Charity Commission, and rather than rehashing the highlights featured in that report, I thought it would be nice idea to share with you some of my personal highlights of the last nine months. So, in no particular order here come my top five as not featured in the Annual Report.

Securing John Lyons Charitable Trust Funding

Early on in my secondment, we were successful in our bid to the John Lyons Trust. While it is always nice to win bids, what was particularly satisfying about this bid was that it represents a more intentional approach to working with schools in that we will work with partners to identify schools where our interventions might be particularly relevant or important. Over the next three years our Schools team will now have resources to focus particularly on schools in Brent, Harrow and Ealing. Please get in touch if you have ideas about schools in those areas that might benefit, we would love to hear from you.

What Women Believe at Rich Mix

One of the remarkable things about this organisation is that one day you can be talking to senior officials at the State Department (more on that later) and the next day you can be listening to the experiences of a woman who left Bulgaria to come to this country to raise her family and the challenges that she faced, but that is 3FF for you! The launch of the What Women Believe exhibition at Rich Mix was one of those 3FF events that have a spirit of openness and safety that mean that people from massively different backgrounds can come together and listen and share and learn together. At time of writing I am delighted to say that we have just secured our third Arts Council grant that will enable us to deliver more Arts-based initiatives of this kind – watch this space.

Washington DC workshop on religion and international affairs

This is a bit of a personal one, and perhaps a bit of an ego trip, you will have to excuse the author(!) but I do think that it shows what makes this organisation so special and why 3FF continues to be relevant. Earlier this year I was invited to attend a workshop hosted by the British Council in Washington DC. The workshop attended by policy professionals from the State Department and leading academics explored how a new funding programme might best be designed to enable policy professionals working on questions of international affairs to think about questions of faith, belief and identity. 3FF were invited both as former grantees of an earlier funding programme but also as one of the few organisations anywhere to be able to talk with confidence about how to think about the practicalities of effective religious engagement.

Intern Fundraising Events

3FF has a fantastic internship programme; well structured, with real opportunities to learn and develop we are incredibly proud of it. One of the changes that we implemented while I was in post was to get the interns to host fundraising events for 3FF. The idea was that it would give the group an opportunity to test out some of the project management and budgeting skills that they learn as part of the internship. The feedback from interns has been really positive; not only have they taken responsibility for all aspects of the events that they have hosted, successfully integrating 3FF values into the events, but they have also managed to raise the profile of the organisation and bring in much needed funds! A big thank you to everyone who has been involved! The next step will be to put together a fundraising pack for use by people who want to do fundraising events for 3FF. If you are interested, please get in touch.

LGBT Encountering Faiths and Beliefs

At 3FF we are incredibly proud of our methodologies, they are the result of careful development and testing over many years. It was therefore so exciting to see the methods being applied to a very specific set of issues, in this case the intersection of faith and belief and LBGT issues and experiences. It was heartening to see the team work so effectively and sensitively to ensure that the event was a success, but what was even more exciting was that by engaging with this issue brought a whole new audience into the organisation, one which we had not engaged with in the past. As we look ahead to the twentieth anniversary of the organisation in 2017 we can expect to see more events like this. It’s going to be exciting!

So there we go, my personal top five as not seen in the Annual Report. What a nine months it has been!

As for me, well its less goodbye and more onto fresh 3FF challenges. I will continue to lead on the writing funding applications and developing new projects, as well as helping to diversify 3FF’s funding streams. These are some exciting challenges, lets see what the future brings, but I think that the future for 3FF is bright and exciting!