Two weeks have passed since the appalling attack on Manchester that claimed the lives of 22 innocent people, but the incident is still as raw as ever and will be for a very long time.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and friends as they come to terms with the tragic loss encountered that day.
While this incident did not happen in our county, I believe it is more important than ever to remind everyone that the people of Essex are united.
Essex County Council, Essex Police, all our District and Borough councils and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner - all present at Wednesday’s multi-faith event - are committed to standing alongside our communities, so that together we display a united presence against these vile acts of terrorism.
Providing public reassurance and building secure, stronger, safer and neighbourly communities is one of our key priorities for Essex residents. That is why we must continue to promote tolerance, dialogue and understanding of different faiths to create more resilient and inclusive communities.
A steering group of faith leaders and partner agencies had already been established to take forward the idea of developing a Faith Covenant for Essex. In essence, the Covenant is a joint commitment between faith communities and partners to a set of principles that guide engagement. This covenant will bind us together so that we can help each other to help our communities. Wednesday’s event was that covenant in action.
We enjoyed a friendly and open discussion, and our Chief Executive Gavin Jones led a Q&A, before Roger Hirst, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex and ACC Andy Prophet from Essex Police, gave an update on the increased police presence in the county.
I’m delighted by the unity displayed at our meeting and look forward to our next discussion later this month when our work on the Faith Covenant continues.
This week I had the privilege of joining a multi-faith event to reinforce the sentiment that together we are stronger.