E-bulletin March/April 2021
This is a web version of IFN's March/April 2021 E-bulletin. A PDF version of this and past bulletins can be found here.
You can navigate to particular sections/articles using the links below.
- Faith and public life updates
- Inter Faith Network for the UK news
- Inter faith projects, programmes and developments
- Resources and study/training
- Calls for information, competitions and nominations
- Jobs, internships and volunteering
- Funding opportunities
- Special Weeks/Days
- Diary dates
Faith and public life updates
- Faith communities and COVID-19
- COVID-19 and safe use of places of worship
- Faith communities and vaccination
- Report on COVID-19 disparities
- Financial impact of COVID-19
- 2021 Census
- Protest over incident at Batley Grammar School
- Allegations relating to personnel at two universities
- Report on racial and ethnic disparities in the UK
- Safeguarding and religious leaders
- Faith communities and COP26
- Hate Crime
- Home Office consultation on Protect Duty
Inter Faith Network for the UK News
- IFN’s National Meeting
- Learning about inter faith activity: A New IFN Teacher Resource for 11-14 year old pupils
- New IFN youth inter faith website resource
- IFN’s Faith Communities Forum
- IFN link meetings for local inter faith groups
- IFN meeting for National and Regional Inter Faith Organisations and Educational and Academic Bodies
- Inter Faith Week
Inter faith projects, programmes and developments
- COP26 Merseyside Interfaith Month
- Religious literacy videos and podcasts
- St Philips Centre intergenerational linking project
- Faith and Belief Forum projects in Barking and Birmingham
- Loving Earth project
Resources and study/training
- Modest Fashion in UK Women’s Working Life
- CCJ Virtual tour of places of worship
- University Chaplaincy during the COVID-19
- Dealing with Grief video series
- Connected Communities: Churches Responding to Prejudice Against Jews and Judaism
- Interreligious Insight
- Guide to Working Together at the Local Level
- The Feast Guidelines for Dialogue
- Faith & Belief Forum ParliaMentors
- Digital surgery slots for local inter faith groups
- Near Neighbours – Diverting2Digital
Calls for information, competitions and nominations
Jobs, internships and volunteering
- COVID-19 funding
- Interfaith Scotland grants for places of worship
- Windrush Compensation Scheme
- Faith in Community Scotland – A Wee Boost
- Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme
- FCC Community Action Fund
- Funding websites
- Subsidised fundraising workshops
UK/national information and advice on COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
UK Government information on COVID-19 is at: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
The NHS guidance can be found at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/.
Advice is available on the following websites in the devolved nations:
Across the period since the last issue, faith communities have continued to respond to the pandemic. A statement by the IFN Co-Chairs and Moderators of IFN’s Faith Communities Forum on ‘Faith communities and COVID-19: responding together at a time of need’ can be found on IFN’s website at https://www.interfaith.org.uk/news/faith-communities-and-covid-responding-together-at-a-time-of-need-a-statement.
In February Stephen Timms MP led a debate on the response of faith groups to the COVID-19 pandemic. The full debate can be seen on parliamentlive.tv and the transcript is available on Hansard. Although restrictions are currently easing, there remains much community need for support and a wide range of volunteer initiatives inspired by values of service and compassion continue to play a very important role. See, for example Sewa Day’s Help a Neighbour Project https://www.expressandstar.com/news/health/coronavirus-covid19/2021/03/17/charitys-year-of-front-line-action/ and one local United Reformed Church’s community service project to distribute surplus food https://www.facebook.com/TheUnitedReformedChurch/photos/a.623611750991900/4062092183810489. IFN has been sharing many examples on its website and through social media.
The UK and devolved governments have continued to engage with faith leaders and faith groups over relevant polices and guidance, as reflected in the item immediately below. The Inter Faith Network for the UK’s National Meeting on 23 March took as its focus ‘Faith Communities and COVID-19: Learning from the journey’, with presentations and participation from a wide range of faith communities and types of organisation. A short report is below.
Faith organisations across the UK participated in the national Day of Reflection on 23 March, led by Marie Curie, remembering those who have died with COVID-19, and the bereaved, and encouraging reaching out and moving forward in hope. Just before the minute’s silence being held for that, at IFN’s National Meeting a statement from the Co-Chairs and Faith Communities Forum was read.
At this meeting of Inter Faith Network member bodies today, we join with all those around the UK holding a minute’s silence at the noon hour to remember the lives of those who have died with COVID-19.
Faith communities have experienced the loss and illness of many among their number. Some have experienced an especially heavy impact because their members are drawn in part or entirely from groups disproportionately affected by COVID-related illness and death.
We hold particularly in our prayers at this time the families, friends and colleagues of all who have died, their sorrow of loss deepened by isolation and, for many, inability to observe traditional rites of mourning. We hold also in our prayers those who continue to provide physical and spiritual support for the dying and the bereaved.
As well as remembering those who have died, we give thanks for all that has been done, by so many, to support those whose lives have been affected by the pandemic.
Let us, as we pause to remember, also commit to moving forward in hope and with a commitment to working for a reopening of society that reflects the values of mutual concern, support and compassion demonstrated during this last year.
A number of their key faith festivals and times of observance are marked by Christians, Hindus, Jains, Jews, Muslims and Sikhs from late March to mid-April. https://www.interfaith.org.uk/resources/religious-festivals. There has been renewed focus on safe celebration of festivals, with the UK Government updating its guidance on this for places of worship in England. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-the-safe-use-of-places-of-worship-during-the-pandemic-from-4-july/celebrating-religious-festivals-during-coronavirus-covid-19. This year, again, the festivals will be celebrated in a very different way from usual. There will be distanced in person services combined with virtual ones, and events happening place mainly online.
On 22 February the Prime Minister announced the ‘COVID-19 Response - Spring 2021’ which set out a roadmap for exiting the current lockdown for England. It contains a number of provisional dates for easing of restrictions. Places of Worship have been able to remain open for communal worship through the most recent restrictions.
Guidance for Places of Worship was updated on 26 March.
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-the-safe-use-of-places-of-worship-during-the-pandemic-from-4-july/covid-19-guidance-for-the-safe-use-of-places-of-worship-from-2-december. This enabled singing by officiants to take place in cathedrals from 28 March and singing outside places of worship from that date, 1 day before the easing of general restrictions.
On 23 February the First Minister of Scotland announced an updated Strategic Framework for easing the restrictions in Scotland. The Scottish Government subsequently confirmed that places of worship would be reopening from 26 March with people living in all parts of Scotland able to attend in gatherings of up to 50, where there was space for the required physical distancing. https://www.gov.scot/news/places-of-worship-in-level-4-can-reopen-from-friday/.
Guidance for places of worship in Wales, last updated on 5 March, is at https://gov.wales/guidance-reopening-places-worship-coronavirus. Places of worship have remained able to open.
The current regulations in Northern Ireland are due to be reviewed on 15 April. Places of worship have remained able to open. https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-regulations-guidance-what-restrictions-mean-you.
Vaccination programmes are currently being rolled out across all four nations in the UK. The same priority list of people to receive the vaccine, recommended by the UK’s independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, is being followed by all four nations in the UK.
Faith communities across the UK continue to support the vaccine rollout in different ways. They have been helping to tackle vaccine hesitancy through arranging for concerns to be addressed and misinformation corrected. Many places of worship and associated buildings from large buildings such as cathedrals to community premises, such as the Jain Centre in Manchester, are being used as vaccination centres. A number of places of worship have also been the location for pop up clinics, such as a pop up clinic at the Al Manaar Mosque in London. https://www.mylondon.news/news/west-london-news/west-london-mosques-pop-up-20267252. Local inter faith bodies have also been assisting with participation of places of worship, for example Wolverhampton Interfaith in relation to the city’s Guru Tegh Bahadur Gurdwara and Shree Krishna Mandir.
In England, the UK Government has funded a major programme of work under the ‘community champions’ heading, allocating over £23 million funding to 60 councils and voluntary groups to expand work to support those most at risk from COVID-19 and boost vaccine take up. Two charities, Strengthening Faith Institutions and Near Neighbours, have been funded to support councils in working with grassroots organisations and community leaders, to ensure that communities understand how the pandemic is being tackled and feel empowered to take action to keep themselves safe. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/community-champions-to-give-covid-19-vaccine-advice-and-boost-take-up.
Near Neighbours has produced some short videos in several community languages to help people understand public health advice around the vaccine and promote the vaccination programme. Videos are available in Arabic, Bengali, English, Farsi, French, Gujarati, Hindi, Kurdish, Mandarin, Pashto, Polish, Punjabi, Romanian, Somali, and Urdu. The videos are free to use and can be downloaded at https://www.near-neighbours.org.uk/covid-videos. Near Neighbours is happy to assist groups or organisations to adapt the message for their specific needs. They can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On 26 February, Minister for Equalities, Kemi Badenoch MP, published the second quarterly report to the Prime Minister and Health Secretary on progress to understand and tackle COVID-19 disparities experienced by individuals from an ethnic minority background. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/second-quarterly-report-on-progress-to-address-covid-19-health-inequalities/second-quarterly-report-on-progress-to-address-covid-19-health-inequalities
The Minister's first report on COVID-19 disparities was published in October. This concluded that a range of socioeconomic and geographical factors coupled with pre-existing health conditions were contributing to the higher infection and mortality rates for ethnic minority groups, with a part of the excess risk remaining unexplained for some groups. This second report looks at those causes in more detail and sets out some of the work undertaken to fill the gaps in understanding and to mitigate the risks of COVID-19 infection. It sets out the progress made under the terms of reference and in implementing the recommendations from the first report.
As noted in previous issues of this e-bulletin, in addition to affecting so many other sectors, the pandemic has affected significantly the resources of faith groups and faith-based charities. In February a group of charities launched an open letter from their CEOs to ask the Prime Minister to consider a special package of support. The open letter, which can be signed by any voluntary organisation, can be found at https://nmn.org.uk/rightnow-campaign-open-letter/.
The 2021 Census took place in England, Wales and Northern Ireland on Sunday 21 March. This was, for the first time, carried out primarily online. The Office for National Statistics (ONS), which carries out the Census in England and Wales, was keen to encourage as many community groups as possible, including faith communities, to share information about the importance of the Census and the different ways that this can be completed, and a representative of ONS attended a meeting of IFN’s Faith Communities Forum in February to speak about this. Due to the pandemic, Scotland has chosen to defer its Census until next year.
Following complaints, a teacher was suspended by Batley Grammar School pending investigation into an incident on 22 March where the teacher was reported to have shown to pupils in an RE lesson a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad. Protests took place outside the school. Apologies were offered by the school and by the teacher (who is currently under police protection). A number of statements were issued, including by the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board and the local inter faith body, North Kirklees Interfaith.
Batley Multi Academy Trust announced on 31 March that an independent panel was being appointed to carry out an investigation with any outcomes expected by the end of May. The investigation would review how "the materials [which caused offence] were used” and "would make recommendations in relation to the Religious Studies curriculum". https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leeds-56587709 .
Police are investigating alleged anti-Hindu comments directed at Oxford University Student Union’s first Indian woman president, who was forced to stand down in a racism row. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/03/29/police-investigate-alleged-anti-hindu-comments-aimed-oxford/.
An investigation has been launched by the University of Bristol over comments made by one of its professors.. The All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Anti-Semitism (APPG) had accused Prof Miller of "inciting hatred against Jewish students". The university said it recognised the "deep concern"; a campaign backing the professor said it was an attack on "academic freedom". https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-56428737.
On 31 March the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities published its report into racial and ethnic disparities in the UK. The report looks at 4 key areas: education and training; employment, fairness at work and enterprise; crime and policing; and health. The Commission examined “the intersection of some of the most pertinent causes holding back equality of opportunity, namely: ethnicity; socio-economic background; geography; and culture and degree of integration”. It “found that most of the disparities we examined, which some attribute to racial discrimination, often do not have their origins in racism.”
The Commission has put forward 24 recommendations, to forward 4 overarching aims:
• to build trust between different communities and the institutions that serve them
• to promote greater fairness to improve opportunities and outcomes for individuals and communities
• to create agency so individuals can take greater control of the decisions that impact their lives
• to achieve genuine inclusivity to ensure all groups feel a part of UK society
The full report and recommendations can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-report-of-the-commission-on-race-and-ethnic-disparities.
The definition of a person in a ‘position of trust’ under English criminal law is set to be expanded to improve child protection by including religious leaders and sports coaches. The Police, Crime, Sentencing, and Courts Bill introduced in Parliament in early March, would make it illegal for both religious leaders and sports coaches to engage in sexual activity with 16 and 17 year-olds. (The age of consent for sexual activity in the UK is 16; this rises to 18, however, where one person in a position of trust is involved.) The Bill when it is enacted will amend Section 21 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. This amendment — to include clergy under the definition of people in a position of trust — was recommended by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in its interim report on abuse in the Anglican Church. Victims and survivors of abuse and campaigners have also called for this change. https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2021/12-march/news/uk/crime-bill-includes-religious-leaders-under-position-of-trust.
The 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) is scheduled to take place in Glasgow from 1-12 November. https://ukcop26.org/ It will bring parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Together with the Environmental Issues Network of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, Faith for the Climate convenes a COP Faith Task Group to enable diverse faith groups to contribute meaningfully to climate action before, during and after COP26. Its priorities are: Transformation; Advocacy; and Hospitality. https://www.faithfortheclimate.org.uk/Our-work
Individual faith communities have been working towards COP26, for example Quakers in Britain: https://www.quaker.org.uk/events/journey-to-cop26-un-climate-talks Inter faith response is also under way. Interfaith Scotland, whose offices are based in Glasgow, has a programme of work under way leading up to COP26 and has been holding a number of linked events. https://interfaithscotland.org/climate-action-resources Preparatory events are also under way on an inter faith basis in other nations. For example, Faiths4Change is leading a Merseyside inter faith response to the climate emergency with the Liverpool City Region Faith Leaders Network, the Diocese of Liverpool and Wirral Council's Cool climate change strategy, with a special ’Journey to COP26 - Merseyside Interfaith Month’ from 21 March to 21 April (more under Projects below).
In the framework of the British presidency, in partnership with Italy, of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change COP26, the Embassies of the United Kingdom and Italy to the Holy See, together with the Holy See, will be convening a meeting of religious leaders and scientists in Rome in autumn 2021 to build momentum for COP26. The aims of the meeting will be for faith leaders to: “articulate our common duty to address climate change; encourage national governments to raise their ambition regarding their National Determined Contributions to reach the Paris Agreement goals; and show how the faiths are leading the way by greening their own operations at central and local level and making new commitments encourage the faithful to take action to slow global temperature rises.” https://www.gov.uk/government/news/faith-and-science-towards-cop26 #Faiths4COP26 In preparation for this event, the British and Italian Embassies, together with the Holy See, are convening a series of virtual meetings, the first of which has just taken place at Wilton Park. https://www.wiltonpark.org.uk/event/faith-and-science-towards-cop26-wp1888v/
Faiths Forum for London, in collaboration with The Royal Parks, More than Bugs, Faith for the Climate and Faiths United Youth Network is running a new initiative called ‘Where Nature Meets Faith’. This will include a series of webinars and guided walks taking place throughout May and June which will explore the intersections between religious teachings and nature. It will also include a photography competition. https://linktr.ee/WNMF
The Scottish Government on 11 March passed the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill. It says that it will “modernise, consolidate and extend existing hate crime law ensuring it is fit for the 21st Century and that “Through its passing, ‘stirring up’ of hatred offences will now apply to additional characteristics listed in the Bill: age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity and variations in sex characteristics. These new protections will add to the long-standing stirring up racial hatred offences, which have been in place since 1986 and have been retained in largely the same form within the Bill.” https://www.gov.scot/news/hate-crime-bill-passed/
The Community Security Trust’s Antisemitic Incidents Report 2020, published on 11 February, shows that last year CST recorded 1,668 antisemitic incidents across the UK. This is an 8% fall from the 1,813 incidents recorded in 2019 but is still the third-highest number of incidents CST has ever recorded in a calendar year.
TellMAMA continues to report on verbal and physical attacks on Muslims. https://tellmamauk.org/category/news/ Other communities, too, continue to experience incidents treated by the police as hate crimes, for example a Swastika daubed on boundary wall of the Siri Guru Nanak Darbar in Gravesend. https://www.kentonline.co.uk/gravesend/news/swastika-daubed-on-sikh-gurdwara-243573/
In February Lead Commissioner for the Commission for Countering Extremism, Sara Khan, and Sir Mark Rowley, published their findings from their legal review examining the adequacy of existing legislation in relation to ‘hateful extremism’. The report, Operating with Impunity - Hateful extremism: The need for a legal framework, puts forward a new working definition for ‘hateful extremism’. It describes how many hateful extremists are able to operate lawfully due to a lack of legislation designed to capture the specific activity of ‘hateful extremism’. It also includes a number of recommendations. The report can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/commission-for-countering-extremism-publishes-legal-review.
The Home Office is seeking views on how the Protect Duty can make the public safer at publicly accessible locations. This consultation considers how legislation might be used to enhance the protection of publicly accessible locations, including across the UK from terrorist attacks and ensure organisational preparedness. A publicly accessible location is defined as any place to which the public or any section of the public has access, on payment or otherwise, as of right or by virtue of express or implied permission. This includes places of worship.
The consultation closes on 2 July. The Home Office is seeking views from across the United Kingdom, “since national security is a reserved matter, however it is recognised that developing an effective process and support to implement such legislation would draw on delivery mechanisms and responsibilities within the Devolved Administrations”. Further information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/protect-duty.
IFN held its annual National Meeting on 23 March on the theme of ‘Faith Communities and COVID-19 – Learning from the Journey’. During the day, the multi faith gathering of nearly 120 people from national faith community bodies and local and national inter faith organisations and other bodies heard about the remarkable faith community response to need in the community during the pandemic.
The meeting, which was chaired by the Inter Faith Network’s Co-Chairs, the Rt Revd Jonathan Clark and Narendra Waghela, explored a wide range of issues. These included how places of worship have coped with periods of closure and with social distancing; health care chaplaincy and the handling of funerals and bereavement; and responding to loneliness and domestic abuse during the pandemic. It heard from faith communities with high BAME membership responding to the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on them and about initiatives to address vaccine hesitancy.
The gathering also considered how digital communication is being used for inter faith dialogue and cooperation and the future possibilities of that; how faith communities, local authorities and other statutory agencies have been working in partnership; how schools have adapted during the pandemic and a new IFN teacher resource to help 11-14 year olds learn about inter faith activity, with examples from inter faith responses to the pandemic; the financial impact of the pandemic on faith community organisations; capturing the pandemic experience through research; and solidarity and statements.
A short report with speakers and organisations can be found here: https://www.interfaith.org.uk/news/ifns-2021-national-meeting-faith-communities-and-covid19-learning-from-the-journey.
The day coincided with a national Day of Reflection led by Marie Curie. At midday, the meeting joined with people across the UK in the minute’s silence to remember those who had died with COVID-19 and those bereaved. Before the minute’s silence a statement by the IFN Co-Chairs and Moderators of IFN’s Faith Communities Forum was read (see text of statement above).
IFN has published a new online Teacher Resource to help secondary schools plan learning for their pupils about inter faith activity and develop skills for dialogue. This is available to download at https://www.interfaith.org.uk/resources/inter-faith-activity-in-the-uk-a-teacher-resource-for-secondary-pupils. It has been produced for teachers of pupils aged 11 – 14 (Key Stage 3).
The resource has a teacher introduction and five units. They are:
Unit 1: Introducing Inter Faith Activity in the UK;
Unit 2: Let’s Talk – inter faith dialogue;
Unit 3: Faith communities, service and solidarity;
Unit 4: Faith communities in service for the wellbeing of others; and
Unit 5: Making a difference in the world – inter faith responses to the climate crisis.
Given the complexity of curriculum requirements across the UK this resources has been shaped in the context of English curriculum requirements. It has, however, benefited from the input of the national inter faith linking bodies of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and may be more widely useful. The resource is intended to help pupils learn about the variety of inter faith activity in the UK, using examples from across different communities and types of organisation. The resource can be adapted for the education requirements in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The resource follows on from IFN’s resource of a similar kind for primary school pupils, which can be found at
The resource is free to download and may also be of interest to anyone interested to learn about inter faith activity in the UK.
IFN has been carrying out a project which includes gathering and signposting resources for youth inter faith activity, including in Further Education and Higher Education contexts. A new website section is at https://www.interfaith.org.uk/activity/youth-inter-faith-engagement.
The new website section includes information on what inter faith activity is, why it is important, and different ways that young people can get involved. It is planned that this section will continue to grow and be developed over time.
A meeting of IFN’s Faith Communities Forum was held on 18 February. The agenda included items on: COVID-19 matters (Vaccination programme, Faith communities and Communications during the pandemic and Community assistance work); Freedom of expression in relation to religion or belief, with reflections from Lord Singh of Wimbledon, Director of the Network of Sikh Organisations (UK); the 2021 Census, with a presentation by Pete Benton, Director of Population and Public Policy Operations at the Office for National Statistics; inter faith engagement of faith communities; and other current issues of interest or concern to faith communities.
This followed an additional special session at the end of January on social media. This explored some of the possibilities - and also pitfalls - of using social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook and also such issues as: whether/when/how to respond to tackle prejudiced and hateful posts; social media as a context for organisational inter faith engagement and how that messaging may sit with more traditional forms of communication; what may be the pros and cons of CEOs or other personnel having separate accounts to that of their organisation; and how social media is being used during the COVID19 pandemic, for example to aid the process of tackling disinformation about vaccines and to highlight and encourage faith community volunteering initiatives. The session included a practically focused overview presentation from IFN's Inter Faith Development Officer, Ashley Beck, and peer to peer learning - with inputs from Hassan Joudi, Deputy Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, Rajnish Kashyap, General Secretary of Hindu Council UK, and Paul Parker, Recording Clerk (CEO) of Quakers in Britain as well as from others through roundtable discussion.
IFN holds meetings for local inter faith groups to share news and good practice and learn from each other’s work to strengthen their own and benefit their local areas. Some are for groups from across the UK. Others are for groups within a particular region or a county. They provide an opportunity for sharing of news or programmes and projects being run by each group, including opportunities and challenges.
The most recent link meeting, which was for local inter faith organisations in Greater London, was held on 19 January. It included a special item on ‘London resources for local inter faith bodies’ with presentations by Mustafa Field, Director of Faiths Forum for London, and Steve Miller, Convener of the London Boroughs Faiths Network. The link followed similar links held by IFN for the North West of England; Kent; the North East; South West and West Midlands. Further such meetings are due to be held in the coming months.
On 26 January IFN held a category meeting for member National and Regional Inter Faith Organisations and Educational and Academic Bodies. There was discussion about how inter faith and educational and academic bodies help support HMD and other key memorial days and weeks such as Remembering Srebrenica, with a presentation by the Revd Nathan Eddy, Interim Director of the Council of Christians and Jews, about the importance of engagement with Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) and one from Ashley Beck of IFN about Inter Faith Week. This was followed by round table sharing of news, information and current concerns, including responding to COVID-19 and discussion of emerging issues of shared interest and concern and Inter Faith Network matters, including the planned youth and school resources (see below).
Inter Faith Week 2020 was a Week with high involvement and many new participants, partnerships and activities. In the context of the restrictions due to COVID-19 it also provided a very positive opportunity to reach out, connect, learn and make new contacts. This year Inter Faith Week takes places from 14-22 November. A number of organisations are already planning events. You can find out more about the Week at www.interfaithweek.org. It is a great time for organisations to highlight their work with faith communities or to grow that. Likewise it is a great opportunity to encourage learning about people’s faiths and beliefs within the workplace or in contexts such as sport. For schools, it is a valuable time to do special focus RE projects
Inter Faith Week does not have an annual theme. However, event organisers may like to know that the week before will see COP26 (the UN Climate Change Conference), so some may be interested to pick up in some way on its focus of the climate and issues of sustainability.
With the Liverpool City Region (LCR) Faith Leaders Network, the Diocese of Liverpool and Wirral Council's Cool climate change strategy, Faiths4Change is leading a Merseyside Interfaith Month from 21 March to 21 April. In the year that the UK will host the G7 summit in July and the critical COP26 climate change conference in November, the campaign is focused on a shared 'Journey to COP26'. The aims of the month are to: 1. Encourage faith-led environmental action; 2. Give tools and support to those who are already active; and 3. Connect conversations, across the region and across faiths.
During the month, they are: inviting faith communities to pledge to take 3 simple actions; offering training on carbon literacy and Hope For The Future training on how to engage MPs; and offering networking opportunities. They are also sharing local actions, ideas and inspiration online and through shared conversations. https://www.faiths4change.org.uk/journey-to-cop26.html
A number of local inter faith groups and others are using videos and podcasts to promote inter faith understanding and religious literacy. Lancashire Forum of Faiths, for example, has created a series of special interview videos with members of the faiths in question giving insight into these https://www.facebook.com/LancsFaiths/, and Walsall For All has created a Faith to Faith podcast series https://anchor.fm/faith-meeting-faith which aims to promote people of all faiths living in Walsall by offering listeners a chance to sit back and hear someone else's story.
The St Philip's Centre has received a grant from The Dunhill Medical Trust to deliver an Intergenerational Linking project in Leicester. This project is part of ‘Care Home Friends and Neighbours: Intergenerational Linking’ – a national initiative from My Home Life England and The Linking Network, linking young people from schools and youth organisations with older people living in care homes across England. Leicester is unique in its diversity and this Leicester Intergenerational Linking Project hopes to build cross-generational connections between and within communities, challenge stereotypes and repair divisions exposed and exaggerated by COVID-19. https://www.stphilipscentre.co.uk/node/43
A government-funded dialogue project run by the Faith & Belief Forum (F&BF) has connected people from different communities online at a time when social distancing has left many feeling isolated. Supported by a grant from the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, the Building Closer Communities project has brought together people of different faiths and beliefs in Birmingham and the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham. Through the dialogue project, many communities that live alongside each other without many opportunities to interact have had authentic conversations and got to know each other for the first time. The project, delivered by F&BF in partnership with The Feast between November 2020 and March 2021, has enabled people to meet, share and explore issues related to faith, belief, and culture through interactive online sessions. More information can be found at https://faithbeliefforum.org/dialogue-project-builds-trust-between-faith-and-belief-communities-during-lockdown/.
The Loving Earth Project, run in partnership with Quaker Arts Network and Woodbrooke, is a community craft project to celebrate people, places, and things that are loved but which are threatened by growing environmental and climate breakdown. The Loving Earth Project aims to help a wide range of people engage with the challenges of living more sustainably, through arts and crafts, and encourages craft groups, faith groups, community groups, and any interested individuals to get involved. More information, including on free online workshops to get started, can be found at https://lovingearth-project.uk.
The report of the Modest Fashion in UK Women’s Working Life project of the University of Arts London and Coventry University has now been published. This report discusses the findings of a study on how religiously-related modest fashion and associated behaviours impact on women’s working lives – regardless of their own religious or secular background or beliefs. It also contains recommendations aimed at the fashion industry and employers. The report is available at https://www.arts.ac.uk/research/current-research-and-projects/curation-and-culture/modest-fashion-in-uk-womens-working-life2.
Council of Christians and Jews Student Leaders at the University of Oxford have created a Virtual Tour of places of worship. This tour invites you to see inside religious buildings around the country and discover some of the religious artefacts inside. The Student Leaders are grateful to the following places for virtually opening their doors: Lincoln Central Mosque and Cultural Centre, Wilpshire Methodist Church, Oxford Jewish Congregation, BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, and Manchester Gurdwara. The tour can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Y2J5OlXI2c&t=80s.
Theos has recently published a report on Relationships, Presence and Hope: University Chaplaincy during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Chaplains and faith advisors have been on the frontline of the pandemic. This report captures the experience of higher education chaplaincy during the pandemic, drawing on interviews with 16 chaplains from universities across the UK. It explores the unique contributions of chaplains during this time, the challenges they have faced, and what lessons can be learned by chaplains and employers. The report is available at https://www.theosthinktank.co.uk/research/2021/02/12/relationships-presence-and-hope-university-chaplaincy-during-the-covid19-pandemic.
The Naz Legacy Foundation has launched a Dealing with Grief video series, which explores the impact Covid-19 has had on faith communities across England and aims to inform, educate and support people who are grieving. Throughout the series, they speak to different faith leaders and families on how the pandemic has impacted on the way they grieve. The series can be found on the Naz Legacy Foundation YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLqff_sbdKcLzwtXLySLI0kwJRuQBSMYc2.
Churches Together in Britain and Ireland and the Council of Christians and Jews have produced a resource, Connected Communities: Churches Responding to Prejudice Against Jews and Judaism, for Christians to learn more about Jewish-Christian dialogue, antisemitism, and anti-Judaism. The intent is “to grow appreciation for the connections that have linked Christians and Jews for the last two thousand years, to equip local churches to engage in Jewish-Christian dialogue, and to cultivate esteem for Judaism in Irish and British churches.” The resource can be downloaded at https://ctbi.org.uk/responding-to-prejudice-against-jews/.
The World Congress of Faiths (WCF), an IFN member body, publishes a twice-yearly journal, Interreligious Insight. This brings together articles from inter faith thinkers and practitioners around the world and is used as a resource by academics and many others. Contributions to the WCF’s annual Younghusband Lecture are reproduced (most recently, examining attitudes to science within Hinduism, Christianity and Islam); and there is a book review section, an editorial from WCF Director, Revd Canon Dr Alan Race, and a poetry section. Annual subscription rates range from £10 to £100 depending on whether the access is online or printed and whether membership of WCF is included. For more information, and to subscribe, visit the WCF website at www.worldfaiths.org.
The Faith and Belief Forum has launched a new resource, which is a Guide to Working Together at the Local Level. The guide is to improve and to increase partnerships between local authorities and local faith or belief groups. It offers practical advice on how local authorities may better engage, celebrate and collaborate with local faith or belief groups; and how local faith or belief groups and other local groups may better contribute to local decision making and to more connected and cohesive local communities. https://faithbeliefforum.org/resources/guide-working-together-local-level/
The Feast has been releasing a series of videos of its Guidelines for Dialogue in action to show how they are used and interpreted by young people. https://twitter.com/thefeastproject The Guidelines for Dialogue can be found at https://thefeast.org.uk/resources#guidelines.
The Faith & Belief Forum’s ParliaMentors programme enables teams of university students of different faiths and non-religious beliefs to collaborate to create social change while being mentored by an MP. The programme is fully funded and supported throughout the academic year. Applications are welcomed from students who identify with a faith or belief (religious or not) and aspire to become political or community leaders. Applications are now open to anyone who will be a current student in the 2021/22 academic year at one of nine listed universities in England. The deadline is 5 April. For more information, and to apply, visit https://faithbeliefforum.org/programme/parliamentors/.
IFN is continuing to make available during April and May a number of free digital ‘surgery’ slots for local inter faith groups. These are 20 minutes slots for IFN member local inter faith groups to ring and have a conversation about their group’s use of digital communications and how they strengthen this. There are also some spaces available for other local inter faith groups; there is no charge for non-members, however a donation is welcome.
Any local inter faith group interested in booking a slot can email Ashley Beck via email@example.com.
The Near Neighbours programme of the Church Urban Fund is offering a pair of free workshops on ‘Diverting2Digital’ to help groups to make the move online and harness the platforms and tools available. The Introductory Workshop is designed for individuals with little experience online. The Advanced Workshop is aimed at organisations that use online tools and services but who feel they could be upskilled or use these more effectively to grow their audience. For more information, visit https://www.near-neighbours.org.uk/diverting2digital.
Calls for information
The Status Now Network is a coalition of over 100 organisations and community action groups which are campaigning for “Status Now 4 All undocumented migrants and migrants in the legal process.” They are seeking to make contact with faith leaders who may know people who are undocumented, seeking asylum, or otherwise without settled status. They are inviting organisations to sign their campaign letter which can be found at https://statusnow4all.org/about-status-now/.
Maidstone Inter-Faith Network is organising a photographic art competition. The competition is open to anyone aged 18 years or over and the theme is ‘Spring or Renewal’. Entries can be submitted until 12 April. More details are on the MIFN website at www.mifn.org.uk.
Each year a number of people receive Honours for services to inter faith work or community cohesion.
The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) says that it is keen to recognise individuals who have contributed to building integrated communities and notes that nominees can come from all levels; being in a junior role is not a barrier to a nomination. All nominations must be made on an official citation form and nominees should not be informed that they have been nominated. The deadline for nominations is 15 April. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Inter Faith Network for the UK currently has some opportunities for online volunteers who would like to offer 4-8 hours a week to help on different aspects of IFN’s work to promote inter faith understanding and cooperation in the UK. To express an interest in volunteering, please complete the application form at https://www.interfaith.org.uk/involved/vacancies/volunteering.
The St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace is currently advertising for a Communications Project Assistant (paid internship), as well as a number of volunteering roles - Programme impact coordinator, Video and stories internship and Communications and design internship. Further information on all these posts is at https://stethelburgas.org/get-involved/vacancies-and-volunteering/.
The Charities Aid Foundation has collated a list of organisations which are supporting charities and voluntary groups at this time. https://www.cafonline.org/covid-19-support/help-for-charities#tab1
Interfaith Scotland is offering, through Government support, funds of up to £500 to places of worship that are struggling to meet the safety requirements of re-opening their buildings and safely holding services (within the Government Guidelines). With discretion, the funds can also be used to assist in keeping open places that have managed their initial outlay with regard to safely reopening their place of worship but are now struggling to keep up the measures required to stay open. The funding criteria for areas of support is primarily so that religious buildings can re-open safely and stay open during this critical stage in the pandemic and that places of worship remain connected to those that are still too vulnerable to come to places of worship. For more information, email email@example.com.
The Windrush Compensation Scheme is open to those who settled in the UK from a Commonwealth country before 1973, and in certain circumstances their children and grandchildren. Claim forms can be downloaded and guidance on completing the application can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/windrush-compensation-scheme. Claimants can also request a form to be sent by post by calling the helpline on 0800 678 1925 or via email WindrushCompensationScheme@homeoffice.gov.uk where they can also request a call back if they are overseas.
Faith in Community Scotland is an anti-poverty charity founded in 2005. They support individuals and faith groups in Scotland’s poorest neighbourhoods to achieve the difference that they are capable of. They do this through training, resources and funding which helps to build people’s skill and to increase their confidence. They are currently running ‘A Wee Boost’ grant scheme with small grants of up to £300 to local faith groups and related community anchor organisations. For more information, visit https://www.faithincommunity.scot/aweeboost.
The Listed Places of Worship (LPW) Grant Scheme gives grants that cover the VAT incurred in making repairs to listed buildings in use as places of worship. The scheme covers repairs to the fabric of the building, along with associated professional fees, plus repairs to turret clocks, pews, bells and pipe organs. The Grant Scheme is run by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and administered by Topmark. For more information, visit http://www.lpwscheme.org.uk/.
The FCC Communities Foundation is offering grants between £2,000 and £100,000 for projects which involve the provision, maintenance or improvement of public amenities including community spaces in places of worship, which are registered charities. Projects must be based within 10 miles of an eligible FCC Environment waste facility. The next round closes on 21 June. For more information, visit https://fcccommunitiesfoundation.org.uk/funds/fcc-community-action-fund.
Funding Central http://www.fundingcentral.org.uk has announced that it will be closing on 31 March. Information about this and alternative sources of information, can be found at https://www.fundingcentral.org.uk/page.aspx?SP=FAQs_Changes.
Similar websites for funding in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can be found at Funding Scotland - http://www.fundingscotland.com/ - Wales Council for Voluntary Action - http://www.wcva.org.uk/funding/search - and Grant Tracker for Northern Ireland - https://www.grant-tracker.org/.
The Foundation for Social Improvement offers subsidised training programmes for small charities across the UK. The courses cover a wide range of subjects from event planning to leadership. Many of the courses focus on fundraising and sustainability skills in particular. Further information and dates for upcoming courses, now being held online, can be found at http://www.thefsi.org/services/training.
The Big Lunch will take place from 5-6 June. Across the years millions of people from different backgrounds have joined together to take part through street parties, BBQs, iftars and picnics. https://www.edenprojectcommunities.com/the-big-lunch-faqs This year’s Big Lunch will also kick off a Month of Community, offering a feast of opportunities to share friendship and fun, and make positive local connections where you live.
Refugee Week will take place from Monday 14 to Sunday 20 June. Refugee Week is a nationwide programme of arts, cultural and educational events that celebrate the contribution of refugees to the UK, and encourages a better understanding between communities. The theme for the 2021 Week is ‘We cannot walk alone’. https://refugeeweek.org.uk/
The Great Get Together, inspired by the late Jo Cox MP, is taking place from Friday 18 to Sunday 20 June. https://www.greatgettogether.org/
Srebrenica Memorial Day takes place each year on 11 July. This year’s theme is ‘Rebuilding Lives’. It is organised by Remembering Srebrenica. http://www.srebrenica.org.uk/
National Hate Crime Awareness Week takes place from Saturday 9 October to Saturday 16 October. https://nationalhcaw.uk/
One World Week will take place from Sunday 17 to Sunday 24 October. www.oneworldweek.org
Scottish Interfaith Week is led by Interfaith Scotland. Dates for this year’s Week are due to be announced shortly. www.scottishinterfaithweek.org
Inter Faith Week in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, will take place from Sunday 14 to Sunday 21 November. www.interfaithweek.org
Mitzvah Day will take place on Sunday 21 November. It is an annual day of faith-based social action led by the Jewish community where people give their time to make a difference to the community around them. Many events and projects held for the day have an inter faith focus. www.mitzvahday.org.uk/
Sewa Day is a day of faith-based social action led by the Hindu community. It normally takes place on 4 dates across the year. Due to COVID there are currently no fixed days; rather, ‘every day is Sewa day’ and volunteers are helping people continually as they are able. https://sewaday.org/
VisitMyMosque Day is a national campaign facilitated by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) that encourages mosques across the UK to hold an open day to welcome in their neighbours from all faiths and none. Details on this year’s date are yet to be announced. https://www.visitmymosque.org/
In light of COVID-19 many events have had to be cancelled or postponed. Some events are instead taking place online. A few examples of forthcoming events are listed below. Events are also listed on the IFN website at https://www.interfaith.org.uk/involved/events.
York Interfaith Group is holding its next meeting on Tuesday 6 April. Dr Hooshmand Badee, an academic economist, will be speaking on 'The role of Faith in solving Economic problems’. The meeting begins at 7.30pm. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Havering Interfaith Forum is holding its next meeting on Tuesday 6 April. This will begin at 6pm with the AGM and will be followed by talks and discussion on 'Faith and Hate Crime Through the Ages'. For more information, email email@example.com.
The St Ethelburga's Centre for Reconciliation and Peace is holding an event on Wednesday 7 April entitled 'Outside the Echo Chamber: Reimagining Britain in a Changing World – Reconciliation and the role of outsiders' This will be considering 'What is the role of outsiders when seeking reconciliation to conflict?'. The speaker will be career diplomat, Sir Richard Stagg, on his experience of working in Afghanistan and Bulgaria during times of conflict. It takes place from 10.30am to 11.30am. For more information, and to register, visit https://stethelburgas.org/event/otec-sirrichardstagg/?mc_cid=cfedd5382f&mc_eid=91aaa813ea.
The Inter-faith Council for Wales is holding an event on Thursday 8 April to celebrate 3 April festivals: Passover, Easter and Vaisakhi. The event is being held from 7pm to 8.15pm. For more information, and to register, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interfaith MK is holding its next meeting on Thursday 8 April on ‘Women of Faith – and I’. Christa Rennie and Joan Harris will be co-hosting the meeting that will be exploring women’s contributions in faith traditions. The meeting begins at 7.30pm. For more information, contact email@example.com.
Nisa-Nashim Jewish-Muslim Women's Network is holding an event on Thursday 8 April entitled 'Fasting and Culture: Ramadan'. Salma Hamid, co-chair of the Nisa-Nashim West Midlands group, will demonstrate a delicious recipe, and Kalsoom Bashir, Muslim Chaplain and safeguarding officer at Avon and Somerset police, will talk through the role of fasting during Ramadan. The event will be held from 8pm to 9.15pm. For more information, and to register, visit https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/ramadan-fasting-and-culture-tickets-148639842771.
As part of the call from Quakers in Britain to ‘Join together remotely and share our belief in the sacredness of all life, ahead of the UN climate talks, COP26’ (https://quaker.org.uk/events/journey-to-cop26-un-climate-talks), Cornwall Faith Forum are hoping to walk on Saturday 10 April from Kenwyn, Truro, to the Dor Kemmyn Peace Field at Penmount. They will be meeting at 10.30 am at Kenwyn Church, Truro and will be adhering to Covid restrictions. Participants are invited to register by contacting Rita Stephen at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07775 937485 or by emailing email@example.com.
Near Neighbours, in partnership with Faiths Together in Lambeth, is hosting a series of online inter faith dialogue sessions called Connected Conversations. The next one is being held on Tuesday 13 April at 11am. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Council of Christians and Jews (Leeds Branch) will be holding its next meeting on Wednesday 14 April. The Revd George Lane and Alan Benstock will be speaking on 'Looking for God….No, just the car park - the work of the Airport Chaplains'. The meeting begins at 8pm. For more information, email email@example.com.
Faith for the Climate is holding a public webinar on Thursday 15 April on ‘Making COP26 count as UK faith groups’. This webinar presents actions that can be taken this year to make a difference. It is open to all, and will be particularly useful for community faith leaders and individuals who have environmental/sustainability portfolios with their congregations or faith-based organisations. It is being held at 2pm. For more information, and to register, visit https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_mFiyjJwUS6Kaw0pljGppzw.
Woking Action for Peace, Friends of the Earth, Surrey Faith Links, Woking LA21, Woking Quakers and Woking People of Faith are holding the next Woking Debate on Saturday 17 April. The topic is ‘What value is arms and military expenditure to the UK?’. The event will take place online from 11am to 12:30pm. For more information, visit www.wokingdebates.com. For joining details, contact Keith Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01483 824980.
York Interfaith Group will be joining a virtual inter faith tour on Sunday 18 April. Called 'Sea to Sea', the virtual tour will be a visual trek across northern Israel from the Mediterranean sea to the sea of Galilee. It is being held from 7pm to 9pm. For more information, and to book, visit https://www.sinaileeds.uk/calendar/sea-to-sea-virtual-experience-2.
Leeds Concord Interfaith Fellowship is holding its next meeting on Monday 19 April. The topic will be 'Holy Places in Judaism' with presentations by Hilary Curwen and Hannah Bloom. The meeting begins at 7:30pm. For more information, visit www.concord-leeds.org.uk.
Woking People of Faith is planning an Interfaith Football Tournament for Saturday 22 May. For more information, contact email@example.com.
More information on events and projects in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales:
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