Josh SquareIt’s a funny, slightly contradictory feeling: first and foremost, the excitement of a new challenge, the opportunity to cover the maternity leave of 3FF’s Deputy Director is such a privilege, but at the same time there is a sense for me of very little actually changing; allow me to explain.

I have been working in the interfaith sector for more or less my whole career. A little under ten years ago I began work at the Encompass Trust, where I ran projects for young people which explored questions of identity and peacebuilding. That was at a time when the sector was becoming more and more visible, aided by a favourable funding landscape which saw effective engagement with faith communities as an integral part of community cohesion.

I left Encompass in 2008 and since then have had a rather peripatetic career that has seen me work with many of the main players in the sector. St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace, the Tony Blair Faith Foundation and the Foundation for Peace in Warrington are all organisations with whom I have worked. Also during that time I developed a professional relationship with the team at 3FF, and I consider myself fortunate to have worked with them on some the organisations noteworthy programmes as the sector changed dramatically during those years.

I consider myself lucky to have developed a strong relationship with previous 3FF Director Stephen Shashoua, whose support and encouragement kept me going when professionally times were tough. More than that, he helped me to really think about the work which we do as a sector, and to challenge me to think big. I owe Stephen a debt of thanks.

So with a close relationship already in place, when the opportunity came up to cover Deputy Director Rachel Silveira’s maternity leave, I was keen to throw my hat into the ring. The opportunity was particularly tempting because I knew that it would mean working closely with new Director, Phil Champain; to be in the organisation during this pivotal period would certainly be an exciting opportunity. Therefore I was thrilled when I got the call to say that I had got the job!

While I keep Rachel’s chair warm (and Salesforce up-to-date, don’t worry Rachel!) I am keen to move forward on two fronts. Firstly, monitoring and evaluation: I believe that 3FF has always been at the forefront of innovation within the sector and I want to challenge the team to think about how we demonstrate impact to audiences unfamiliar with our work. The team already does a fantastic job of collecting data, but how do we translate that data into stories that affect change? Secondly, donor relations: I want us as a team to think about how we can connect our work to new donors. At 3FF we are extremely fortunate to have a core group of extremely committed funders; they, like us, have a vision for 3FF and the sector at large, but in order to realize that vision we need to bring more people into that conversation.

Over the coming months, I will be working hard to promote the 3FF vision for a more connected and cohesive society as widely as I can, and I would love to hear from you if you have ideas about how I might do this. Feel free to call me at the office, pop in for a cup of tea, or email me on josh@3ff.org.uk