Increasing attacks on religious institutions and communities across Europe have prompted a focus on the vulnerability of places of worship and communities, and the need for focused support and training, which the SOAR project provides. The SOAR project has delivered two Women and Youth Safety and Security Training events on the 1st  of October 2022, in Aalst, Belgium and 2nd of October, in Mechelen, Belgium. In attendance were various faith leaders, faith institution management, and community members and volunteers from Places of Worship. The focus was places on women and youth, and the security issues that they face.

The SOAR project engaged with at risk communities in Aalst and Mechelen, Belgium, to ensure that places of worship and congregations are protected by providing FREE security training and resources for women and youth. SOAR promotes interfaith collaboration which was one of the core elements of the training in the two mentioned cities.  

The events received an overwhelming positive response from the attendees and was able to touch upon gender specific security issues. Furthermore, the participants were provided with a safe place where they could share their experiences, thoughts, and ideas.

The SOAR project is a European Commission (EU) funded project that stands for ‘Strengthening the security and resilience of at-risk religious sites and communities’ programme. The programme is looking to advance the protection and safeguarding of places of worship and communities in 7 countries across the EU (France, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Hungary, Netherlands, and Denmark) by providing free Safety and Security Training for leaders, managers, and caretakers of Places of Worship (including Churches, Mosques, Temples, Gurdwaras, Synagogues, and more).

SOAR builds upon the European Commission’s 2020 strategy on increasing the protection of public places, including places of worship. The SOAR project’s consortium partners are led by Enhancing Faith Institutions (EFI), and include the Architects Council of Europe (ACE), Finn Church Aid (FCA), supported by the United Nations Alliance of Civilisations (UNAOC). The network of the partnership is extensive and includes representatives from all majority and minority faiths practicing within the EU.

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