Increasing attacks on religious institutions and communities across Europe have prompted a focus on the vulnerability of places of worship, and the need for focused support and training, which the SOAR project provides. The SOAR project delivered a Regional Protective Security Training event on the 12th of March 2023, in Linz, Austria. In attendance were various faith leaders, faith institution management, Architects and community members and volunteers from Places of Worship.

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 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).

The SOAR project engaged with at risk communities across Linz to ensure that places of worship and congregations are protected by providing FREE security training and resources– which included best practice examples, development dialogue, and engagement with law enforcement collaborators. SOAR promotes interfaith collaboration and caters support to advance community safety and security capabilities via trainings for all faith communities alike.

SOAR project’s Linz regional protective security training included an innovative concept called Security by Design (SBD) and free risk assessments to places of worship across Austria. The training helped attendees to understand the security risks and principles of risk reduction for Places of Worship, enabling them to undertake and implement risk reduction measures. The training lasted a total of 5 hours, and all Faith Leaders, Volunteers, Teachers, caretakers and wider faith institution staff members were offered certificates upon successful completion of their Training.

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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