IFN E-bulletin August 2020
This is a web version of IFN's August 2020 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
- UK/national response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
- Places of worship and festivals
- Funerals and weddings
- Temporary lockdowns
- The impact of COVID-19 on BAME communities
- COVID-19 and faith communities
- The impact of COVID-19 on charities
- Windrush Cross-Government Working Group
- Hate crime, extremism and conspiracy theories
- VJ Day 75th anniversary commemorations
- UK Freedom of Religion and Belief Forum
- Climate change conference postponed
Inter Faith Network for the UK News
- Inter Faith Week 2020
- Meetings of IFN’s Faith Communities Forum
- Meeting for Educational and Academic Bodies
- IFN meetings for local inter faith practitioners
- IFN Local Inter Faith Webinar on ‘Getting together at time of COVID-19’
Inter faith projects, programmes and developments
- Campus Leadership Programme
- Spiritual ecology and climate justice podcasts
- Faiths United
- York Interfaith Group quilt
- Hounslow Friends of Faith 20th anniversary
Resources and study/training
- Report on ‘Cohesive societies: Faith and belief’
- Dialogue between Christians and Jews on issues relating to Palestine
- Engaging Locally toolkit
- Training courses – Interfaith Scotland
- Beyond Dialogue
Calls for information, competitions and nominations
Jobs, internships and volunteering
- Inter Faith Network for the UK – Volunteers
- Council of Christians and Jews – Director
- Faith and Belief Forum – Programmes Coordinator, West Midlands
- COVID-19 funding
- BAME Infrastructure Fund
- FCC Community Action Fund
- Windrush Compensation Scheme
- Faith in Community Scotland
- Veolia Environmental Trust community funding
- Funding websites
- Website and Facebook grants
- Subsidised fundraising workshops
FAITH AND PUBLIC LIFE UPDATES
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:
Each of the four governments has been following its own roadmap for easing lockdown restrictions:
Northern Ireland: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-recovery-plan
Places of worship were permitted to reopen for individual prayer from 13 June. On 23 June, the Prime Minister announced the further easing of lockdown restrictions from 4 July. Places of worship are now able to reopen for prayer and services, including weddings with a maximum of 30 people, all subject to social distancing rules. Guidance for the safe use of places of worship, last updated on 4 August, is at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-the-safe-use-of-places-of-worship-from-4-july/covid-19-guidance-for-the-safe-use-of-places-of-worship-from-4-july
On 27 July, shortly before Eid Al-Adha, the Government issued a checklist for special religious services and gatherings: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-the-safe-use-of-places-of-worship-during-the-pandemic-from-4-july/special-religious-services-and-gatherings-covid-19-checklist This guidance, further updated on 4 August, provides “key principles that should help us all make decisions that ensure we can all take part in special religious services and gatherings safely.”
On 31 July the Prime Minister announced that on 8 August the use of face coverings would become compulsory in places of worship.
For communities with Sunday Schools, Madrassas, Yeshivas, or other faith-based out-of-school settings, the following link, last updated on 10 July, may also be helpful: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/protective-measures-for-holiday-or-after-school-clubs-and-other-out-of-school-settings-for-children-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak/protective-measures-for-out-of-school-settings-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak
The Government’s Places of Worship Taskforce has continued to meet.
Faith Action has been running re-opening focus groups for Christian, Hindu, Muslim and Sikh groups. It has also run one for women of any faith and a combined group for Baha’i, Jain and Zoroastrian groups.
Places of worship have been open for private prayer in Northern Ireland since 19 May and for services since 29 June.
In Scotland places of worship were able to open for individual prayer or contemplation from 22 June. Since 15 July they have been able to open for communal prayer, congregational service and contemplation with limited attendance numbers and physical distancing. Guidance for the safe use of places of worship, last updated on 8 August, is at https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-phase-3-guidance-for-the-safe-use-of-places-of-worship/.
In Wales places of worship have been able to reopen for private prayer since 23 June. https://gov.wales/guidance-reopening-places-worship-coronavirus-html Reopening for additional uses, including services of limited size, is expected under the Amber phase of the Welsh Government’s roadmap.
The current position on the holding of funerals and weddings during the pandemic is set out below.
UK Government links
The latest UK Government guidance for managing a funeral during the coronavirus pandemic is at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-managing-a-funeral-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic/covid-19-guidance-for-managing-a-funeral-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic This was last updated on 11 August.
Advice relevant to handling of care of the deceased, updated 31 July: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-care-of-the-deceased/guidance-for-care-of-the-deceased-with-suspected-or-confirmed-coronavirus-covid-19
NHS bereavement advice and support, reviewed on 10 August and reviewed weekly: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/bereavement-advice-and-support/
The current guidance on holding funerals in Northern Ireland during the pandemic is at https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-regulations-guidance-family-and-community#toc-5.
Guidance on holding funerals during the pandemic in Scotland, last updated on 15 July, is at https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-funeral-services/pages/pre-funeral-arrangements/.
The current guidance on holding funerals in Wales during the pandemic is at https://gov.wales/guidance-local-authorities-funerals-covid-19. Last updated 17 June.
Guidance on weddings and civil partnerships in England was last updated on 4 August: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-small-marriages-and-civil-partnerships/covid-19-guidance-for-small-marriages-and-civil-partnerships.
Current guidance on marriage and registration in Northern Ireland can be found at: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/information-and-services/births-deaths-marriages-and-civil-partnerships/marriage-and-registration.
Guidance on wedding ceremonies and civil partnership registrations in Scotland was last updated on 4 August: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-small-marriages-and-civil-partnership-registrations/.
Current guidance on marriage and civil partnership ceremonies in Wales, last updated 6 August, can be found at: https://gov.wales/guidance-members-public-marriage-and-civil-partnership-ceremonies-coronavirus-html.
Some areas have experienced renewed restrictions due to rise in the numbers of cases of COVID-19. These have included Aberdeen, Leicester, Greater Manchester, Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendleton, Rossendale, Bradford, Kirklees, Calderdale and Preston. This affected Eid, Rakshabhandan and Janmashtami celebrations in a number of areas.
People of many backgrounds have died with COVID-19. There is, however, a higher death rate among those of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds – as there is within the Jewish community. There is significant overlap between BAME groups and particular faith communities and sections of those and some are seeing a sharply increased rate of deaths.
On 19 June the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released data on ‘deaths involving the coronavirus (COVID-19) by religious group’ in England and Wales. https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/articles/coronaviruscovid19relateddeathsbyreligiousgroupenglandandwales/2marchto15may2020
The ONS summary notes that: “The highest age-standardised mortality rates (ASMRs) of deaths involving COVID-19 were in the Muslim religious group with 198.9 deaths per 100,000 males and 98.2 deaths per 100,000 females; people who identified as Jewish, Hindu or Sikh also showed higher mortality rates than other groups.” And that “When taking account of region, population density, socio-demographic and household characteristics, and ethnic background, those who identified as Jewish at the time of the 2011 Census showed an increased risk of a death involving COVID-19 compared with the Christian population; Jewish males were at twice the risk of Christian males, with the difference in females being 1.2 times greater risk (additional data and analyses are required to understand this excess risk).”
On 2 June the Government published the report of Public Health England, ‘COVID-19: review of disparities in risks and outcomes’. The review looked at different factors including: age and sex; where people live; deprivation; ethnicity; people’s occupation; and care home residence. As part of the work towards this, a wide pattern of stakeholder outreach took place, led by Professor Kevin Fenton. The report, when published, did not draw on material from that.
On 16 June the Government published ‘A summary of stakeholder insights into factors affecting the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities’ https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-understanding-the-impact-on-bame-communities/ These factors included medical and social factors including racism and social and economic equalities. Published with it was a letter from the Chief Executive of PHE setting out the seven recommendations from the report. This report contains extensive reference to the important role of faith within BAME communities, noting that “Faith communities played a vital role in engaging with communities and were a trusted source of information, leadership and engagement and needed to be better engaged in future efforts to build community resilience and prepare communities for the immediate and long-term challenges of COVID-19.”
It was announced at the end of July that UK scientists were to receive millions of pounds of Government funding for a raft of studies to learn why people from an ethnic minority background are at greater risk from COVID-19. Six projects will analyse data on social circumstances, health and day-to-day activities, as well as investigating genetic risk factors. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-53565655 The funding bodies are UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) https://www.ukri.org/news/multimillion-investment-to-investigate-covid-19-and-ethnicity/
On 9 June First Minister of Scotland, Ms Nicola Sturgeon, announced that she was “establishing a new expert reference group, made up of academics and other advisers. That group will consider the evidence on Covid-19 in Scotland – including the data provided by NHS Scotland, National Records of Scotland and Public Health Scotland – to assess the impact of the virus on minority ethnic communities.” https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-update-first-ministers-speech-09-june-2020/
In Wales an article was published on 22 June summarising findings of an advisory group that had been set up in May to examine the issue. https://gov.wales/wales-bame-covid-19-health-advisory-group-takes-cross-government-approach https://gov.wales/coronavirus-covid-19-and-black-asian-and-minority-ethnic-bame-population-wales.
Labour Party Inquiry
On 24 April the Labour Party announced that it would be holding an enquiry, led by Baroness Lawrence. Some ‘hearings’ arrange by Liam Byrne MP and others took place in June in Birmingham https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/hear-pain-covid19-families-share-18399115 These will feed into the enquiry.
On 5 June the Equality and Human Rights Commission announced an inquiry into the impact of COVID-19 on ethnic minorities.
One the key roles of the Inter Faith Network for the UK is sharing information and good practice. Since the crisis began IFN has held monthly meetings of its Faith Communities Forum with a COVID-19 focus (see below) and been regularly sharing faith and inter faith responses on social media and sending regular updates by email to its member bodies. https://www.interfaith.org.uk/news/social-media
It has also created a special section on its website about faith and inter faith responses. https://www.interfaith.org.uk/news/covid-19.
Most faith communities have issued guidance for their communities and are updating this on a regular basis. IFN has been collating a list of these on its website at https://www.interfaith.org.uk/news/faith-communities-and-coronavirus.
Examples in regard to festivals include guidance from the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board and the Muslim Council of Britain about Eid and from the Hindu Council UK for devotees marking Janmashtami.
Since the start of COVID-19, chaplains have played a very important part in response within hospitals. This has been flagged up by members and profiled in a number of IFN social media posts, including https://www.facebook.com/553910267992886/posts/3024588844258337/, https://www.facebook.com/553910267992886/posts/3025663064150915/ and https://www.facebook.com/553910267992886/posts/3077490262301528/.
It was also the subject of a special input to the Faith Communities Forum meeting in July by the Chair of the Network for Pastoral, Spiritual and Religious Care in Health, the Revd Mark Burleigh.
Assistance to those in need
Faith-based initiatives have continued to play a very important part in supporting those in need as well as providing assistance and moral support to NHS and other key workers. These have included provision of food and personal protective equipment, visits, and special ‘thank you’ videos. Many examples of these can be seen at https://www.interfaith.org.uk/news/covid-19-acts-of-kindness-and-service.
Examples of just a few are also listed below.
Volunteers created The Sikh Foodbank in Scotland in late March to aid shielding and struggling households from all backgrounds. By August it had served up 80,000 meals to vulnerable people and is continuing to provide food for those in need, including those affected by job loss. https://www.thenational.scot/news/18639209.sikh-foodbank-continue-operating-80-000-lockdown-meals/
St Mark’s Church in Caia Park in Wrexham, close to the location of recent coronavirus mobile testing units, has issued more than 600 CE approved face shields for anyone in need of PPE. https://www.leaderlive.co.uk/news/18630480.covid-19-wrexham-church-distributes-ppe-amid-spike-cases/
Ashton-Under-Lyne's Hindu temple has helped its local community during the Coronavirus pandemic with a range of charitable acts, helping out at Tameside Hospital, Ashton Police Station and Dukinfield Ambulance service, providing food and supplies alongside letters of appreciation. https://www.questmedianetwork.co.uk/news/tameside-reporter/ashton-temple-steps-forward-for-the-community/
An inter faith social action group run out of Kol Chai Reform Synagogue in London collectively sewed around 50 sets of scrubs, as well as other types of PPE such as arm protectors. https://www.thejc.com/sew-far-so-good-as-north-london-ppe-team-fill-an-nhs-need-1.500669
SewaDay has carried out a wide programme of volunteering across the UK. For example, SewaDay NorthWest has transported supplies to a number of food banks in Greater Manchester.
Access to food during COVID-19
On 22 July the British Red Cross published a report on ‘Access to food in emergencies: learning from Covid-19’ https://www.redcross.org.uk/about-us/what-we-do/we-speak-up-for-change/access-to-food-in-emergencies. BAME communities are mentioned in the report in the context of higher vulnerability and of need. Faith-based volunteering initiatives have been very prominent during the pandemic – including Christian, Hindu, Jain, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh and other initiatives where there is overlap between faith and BAME communities - providing support to others.
The report makes particular mention of the issue of appropriateness of food package contents for people of different religions and beliefs, noting that “The British Red Cross believes that emergency food provision should be personalised. It should meet dietary and medical requirements, considering factors like religious beliefs, allergies, eating abilities or availability of cooking equipment” and “Food should be a central part of any humanitarian emergency response. Every person should have access to food that meets their dietary requirements and personal circumstances no matter who they are or where they live in an emergency.”
Hope and inspiration
There have been a number of multi faith videos released to reflect solidarity and inspire hope at this time of Covid19. Examples of some recent ones include these ones from Barnet Multi Faith Forum, Brighton and Hove Contact Group, Interfaith Glasgow, , Interfaith Council for Wales and Lewisham Interfaith Forum.
Some organisations such as Edinburgh Interfaith Association, with its Interfaith Insights series, have produced regular videos. https://www.edinburghinterfaith.com/
Many faith and inter faith organisations are registered charities. Information and advice that may be useful to charities and other voluntary organisations at this time can be found on IFN’s website at https://www.interfaith.org.uk/news/covid-19-and-charities.
COVID-19 has also had an impact on the resources of places of worship and faith-based charities. The previous issue of IFN’s e-bulletin drew to the #Nevermoreneeded campaign which had been initiated by NCVO and others.
The hit on income from less bookings from space renters; drop in some cases in charitable donations due to people not attending regular worship and festivals; loss in a few cases from tourist income; and other COVID related complications continue to have an impact. This BBC story from 26 July highlights the high impact on Westminster Abbey https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-53538741 and notes that the Association of English Cathedrals, which represents Westminster Abbey and the Church of England's 42 cathedrals has warned job cuts will hit churches around the country when the government's job retention scheme ends in October. It also notes that many places of worship around the country are struggling financially. It cites Singh Sabha London East, which typically received about £80,000 a month in donations from attendees and has lost 90% of its monthly income (nonetheless providing more than 4,000 meals to NHS staff and other key workers).
The #NeverMoreNeeded campaign is asking the Government to: “ recognise that existing measures do not do enough to enable charities to continue to deliver essential services that have never been more needed … ; ensure the distribution of funding available is speedy and efficient, and that equality and human rights are designed in from the outset, so that we meet everyone’s needs and that decision making is transparent; [and] make necessary regulatory changes to existing schemes to make them fit for purpose for charities and voluntary organisations.” It is also asking “Ministers and officials to work with the charity and voluntary sector to address the medium and long-term scale of the financial challenge ahead, and to ensure that the critical support charities provide will continue to be able to meet need and make a vital contribution to rebuilding our society.”
Further information is at https://nmn.org.uk/.
Thousands have protested in the USA in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on 25 May as well as in response to other deaths and acts of brutality and to racism today and across recent centuries. The UK has also seen a number of such protests.
Following its meeting on 9 June IFN’s Board of Trustees offered the following reflections: https://www.interfaith.org.uk/news/blacklivesmatter-reflections-from-the-board-of-ifn-at-its-meeting-on-9-june-2020. Many faith and inter faith bodies have been responding. For example, the Board of Deputies of British Jews has established a Commission on Racial Inclusivity in the Jewish Community https://www.bod.org.uk/board-of-deputies-to-launch-commission-on-racial-inclusivity-in-the-jewish-community/ and the Church of England has established a Racism Action Commission https://www.churchofengland.org/more/media-centre/news/new-task-force-ensure-action-over-racism-church-england Responses from a number of IFN member bodies can be seen at: https://www.interfaith.org.uk/news/ifn-member-responses-to-killing-of-george-floyd-subsequent-events-and-racial-injustice. Faith leaders have also come together in a number of areas of the UK to stand in solidarity, for example in St Albans https://www.hertsad.co.uk/news/black-lives-matter-st-albans-faith-leaders-1-6740257 and Basingstoke https://www.basingstokegazette.co.uk/news/18506834.black-lives-matter-religious-leaders-unite-call-change-basingstoke/.
A Windrush Cross-Government Working Group was launched in June by the Home Secretary Priti Patel. It is co-chaired by Bishop Derek Webley and the Home Secretary and met for the first time on 25 June. The Working Group is not holding a new inquiry, but is, rather, an implementation group especially for the recommendations made in the Wendy Williams Windrush Lessons Learned Review (published March 2020). https://www.voice-online.co.uk/windrush/2020/06/22/windrush-cross-government-working-group-launched/
Lockdown has not seen the disappearance of hate crime. Incidents include a swastika burnt onto a golf course in Blackpool; graffitiing of streets in Brighton https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/18633898.hove-anti-islam-graffiti-bahman-khorsandian-curfew/, a recent incident in Leeds https://www.leeds-live.co.uk/news/leeds-news/jewish-woman-describes-life-racism-18737963 and anti Muslim hate mail received recently by MPs in Manchester https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/mp-wakes-up-very-offensive-18734435.
The Community Security Trust reported in its January to June 2020 report 789 Antisemitic incidents across the UK during that period, the third highest total that CST has recorded in the January to June period of any year. https://cst.org.uk/data/file/c/5/Incidents%20Report%20Jan-Jun%202020-1.1596720071.pdf
A study by Newcastle and Northumbria universities has found that more than 80% of Muslim people in the North East have experienced racism and three-quarters think it's getting worse. The Bahr Academy in Newcastle has been broken into twice this year and ransacked with racist graffiti daubed on the walls. https://www.itv.com/news/tyne-tees/2020-07-22/you-dont-belong-here-islamophobia-concerns-as-report-finds-racism-experienced-by-80-of-muslims-in-the-north-east
Online attacks are also a feature of the current hate landscape. For example, on 29 June a Women’s Interfaith Network Zoom meeting on Faith and COVID was hacked by racists and participants subjected to racist abuse and video clips with racist emblems and violence. https://twitter.com/Win_Interfaith/status/1280080358558650368/photo/1
In the first half of 2020, CST received ten reports of educational or religious online events hijacked with Antisemitic content.
In July the artist known as Wiley published a number of Antisemitic tweets on Twitter. A delay in these being taken down led to a 48 hour boycott with the hashtag #NoSafeSpaceForJewHate by the Chief Rabbi and others. The social network eventually banned Wiley for violating its "hateful conduct" policy - a day after Facebook and Instagram had deleted the music star's accounts for "repeated violations" of their rules. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-53581771
In Scotland, the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill was introduced the Scottish Government on 23 April. It seeks to: update existing laws; bring most of these into one bill; and add to the groups currently specifically protected by hate crime laws. A copy of the Bill and the accompanying documents can be found at https://www.gov.scot/policies/crime-prevention-and-reduction/hate-crime/ and https://beta.parliament.scot/bills/hate-crime-and-public-order-scotland-bill.
In May 2020 the Scottish Parliament Justice Committee launched a call for views on the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill. This closed on 24 July. https://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/CurrentCommittees/115038.aspx
There has been much public debate over the extent to which the proposed Act would constrain freedom of speech. The following blog seeks to address what the Government views as some misperceptions: https://blogs.gov.scot/justice-safety/2020/06/15/the-hate-crime-and-public-order-scotland-bill/.
Extremism and conspiracy theories
In July, the Commission on Countering Extremism published a report looking at the way in which extremists have sought to exploit the current pandemic. Along with highlighting harmful conspiracy theories, the report refers to how extremists have been spreading disinformation and fake news about minority groups which has been used by sympathisers to incite hatred and violence.
On 20 June three people were murdered and three seriously injured in a knife attack by a man in Reading. This was subsequently classified as a terrorist related attack. The motives of the individual, who appears to have had mental health problems, remains unclear. The following day a statement was issued on behalf of the Board and Moderators of the Faith Communities Forum. https://www.interfaith.org.uk/news/statement-following-terrorist-attack-in-reading
A police appeal to the public early in the lockdown, to take part in the Action Counters Terrorism (ACT) e-Learning course while working at home, has resulted in nearly 70,000 signing up to be ‘CT Citizens’. Overall half a million participants have signed up since the course was launched two years ago. ACT Awareness can be found at https://ct.highfieldelearning.com/.
The 75th anniversary of VJ Day (Victory over Japan) will be held on 15 August, commemorating the end of the Second World War.
The Royal British Legion notes: “Remembrance honours those who serve to defend our democratic freedoms and way of life. We unite across faiths, cultures and backgrounds to remember the service and sacrifice of the Armed Forces community from Britain and the Commonwealth.”
More information on how to get involved in marking the anniversary can be found at https://ve-vjday75.gov.uk/vjday/ and https://www.britishlegion.org.uk/get-involved/remembrance/remembrance-events/vj-day-75.
The Royal British Legion has created a digital map of the Commonwealth African and Asian nations from WW2, together with Nepal, that were part of the war effort in the Asia-Pacific. The map allows members of the public to leave their Remembrance messages next to one of the countries. It can be found at https://www.britishlegion.org.uk/get-involved/remembrance/remembrance-events/vj-day/vj-day-map.
IFN’s Inter Faith Week website includes a resource that highlights the contributions of people of different faiths and beliefs in conflicts and the importance of multi faith remembrance. https://www.interfaithweek.org/resources/remembrance
In July it was announced that a new UK Freedom of Religion and Belief (FoRB) Forum will be launched in September. The setting up of the Forum was one of the recommendations in the report on the review carried out by the Bishop of Truro, the Rt Revd Philip Mounstephen, on Foreign and Commonwealth Office support for persecuted Christians, published last year.
The Forum, which is still gathering representation from civil-society organisations, NGOs, academic organisations, and the Government, will be responsible for raising awareness of religion-based restrictions, intolerance, and discrimination around the world; inform UK policy-making on FoRB and make recommendations for action; and be in liaison with the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy on FoRB and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on FoRB. https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2020/10-july/news/uk/bishop-of-truro-to-chair-new-freedom-of-religion-and-belief-forum
Recent issues of IFN’s e-bulletin have carried information about the work of faith communities and the environment.
The COP26 UN climate change conference set to take place in Glasgow in November, with which a number of UK faith communities were involved, has been postponed due to COVID-19. Dates for a rescheduled conference in 2021, hosted in Glasgow by the UK in partnership with Italy, will be set out in due course. https://unfccc.int/news/cop26-postponed
INTER FAITH NETWORK FOR THE UK NEWS
This year’s Inter Faith Week www.interfaithweek.org takes place in England, Northern Ireland and Wales from Sunday 8 to Sunday 15 November. Its aims of Inter Faith Week are to:
- Strengthen good inter faith relations at all levels
- Increase awareness of the different and distinct faith communities in the UK, celebrating and building on the contribution which their members make to their neighbourhoods and to wider society
- Increase understanding between people of religious and non-religious beliefs
The Week begins each year on Remembrance Sunday to enable people of different backgrounds to remember together the service of soldiers and civilians of all faiths and beliefs and to reflect on peace. A dedicated page about this can be found at https://www.interfaithweek.org/resources/remembrance.
IFN leads on the Week, in consultation with the Inter Faith Council for Wales and Northern Ireland Inter Faith Forum in relation to the Week in their respective nations, and provides a dedicated website at: www.interfaithweek.org Scottish Interfaith Week takes places at the same time and Interfaith Scotland leads on that: http://scottishinterfaithweek.org/
This year, because of COVID-19, Inter Faith Week will be predominantly virtual.
Here are just a few ideas for Inter Faith Week activities in that context:
- Work with a selection of local places of worship to create online tours of these and assemble them into a faith trail that people can take part in online
- Hold a ‘virtual’ civic reception for local faith leaders and perhaps record a joint Inter Faith Week message about the importance of good inter faith relations in your area
- Hold an art or photo competition which can be judged online if necessary
- Create a calendar for 2021 with pictures taken of inter faith events, places of worship in your area or artwork from different communities
- Create an online quiz about the world’s religions and hold the quiz online during the Week
- Create a blog or oral history project about the history of faith communities in your area, when inter faith activity began and how it has developed
- Interview, for a video or as part of virtual meeting, members or colleagues of different faith and non-religious belief backgrounds about the idea of ‘service’ in their tradition and how their beliefs inspire them and their colleagues to work to help the wider community
- Hold an online ‘bake-in’ or ‘cook-in’ where people of different faiths share their recipes and show the finished item!
- If you are a member of a local inter faith group, across the coming months work with members to produce a short history of your group (if you don’t already have one!) with some reflections about why it’s work is so important and publish it during Inter Faith Week
- Set up an ‘Inter Faith Week Buddy’ experience where two people, each of a different faith or non-religious belief keep in touch across September and October and share during Inter Faith Week some of what they have gained from this
- If there are people still needing to self-isolate or be ‘shielded’ during Inter Faith Week, consider a safe way that you might encourage an inter faith team to volunteer and deliver a special ‘Inter Faith Week’ lunch with samples of foods from some of the different faith communities in the area
- Create an on-line ‘faith fair’ for your workplace or Student Union with information about different faiths and beliefs and opportunities to engage in online chats.
- Develop a new website or update your website – or the faith or inter faith section of it – and launch that in Inter Faith Week
- Create an exhibition about different faiths with display panels about each faith group in your area that could be exhibited in an open air space such as at your local rail/ bus station
- Host a webinar or other educational activity for the public
- Create an online exhibition of some of the artefacts in your museum linked to particular faiths, perhaps with talks from people of those faiths
There are more ideas at www.interfaithweek.org and further detail about the ‘Inter Faith Week buddies’ scheme can be obtained from the IFN office.
On 29 July, IFN hosted a webinar for local, regional and national inter faith organisations focussed on preparing for Inter Faith Week 2020. This included a range of presentations and covered topics including widening involvement in the Week, using social media to add impact, practical pointers for holding activities at a time of COVID-19, planning virtual pilgrimages/ faith walks, thinking through virtual vs physical activities, and creating video messages. A recording of the webinar can be seen at https://www.interfaithweek.org/resources/webinars.
Across August and September, IFN will be making a number of further announcements about Inter Faith Week. Follow Inter Faith Week on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or sign up to the mailing list to keep in touch with news and ideas!
If you would like to receive mailings about Inter Faith Week, you can subscribe at https://www.interfaithweek.org/news/mailing-list-sign-up.
For further information, contact the Inter Faith Week team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meetings of IFN’s Faith Communities Forum were held on 27 May, 25 June and 28 July. This greater than usual frequency was to enable faith communities to address a number of aspects of COVID-19.
On 27 May the re-opening of places of worship and the impact of COVID-19 on BAME communities was discussed. On 25 June, the agenda included items on: hate crime and terrorism; COVID-19 and faith communities; the3million campaign and faith communities, with a presentation by Ms Ilse Mogensen, Head of Advocacy for the3million campaign; and faith and BAME communities, with opening reflections from Bishop Dr Joe Aldred of Churches Together in England.
The 28 July session included updates on COVID-19 and faith communities, including health and spiritual care, with a presentation by the Revd Mark Burleigh, Chair of the Network for Pastoral, Spiritual and Religious Care in Health. There was also an Agenda Item on Faith communities, climate change and the environment with a presentation by Rabbi David Mason about Green Shabbat, Eco Synagogue and the importance of faith communities’ role in working for the wellbeing of the environment.
A virtual meeting was held for IFN member Educational and Academic Bodies on 23 June to share news of how they are responding to COVID-19 and to discuss any particular COVID-19 related issues of interest and concern.
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.
Virtual link meetings for local inter faith organisations in the East Midlands region of England and the North East region of England were held on 29 June and 27 July, respectively, facilitated by IFN’s Assistant Director. Each began with a short overview of IFN and its work relating to COVID-19 from the Executive Director and then included sharing of news or programmes and projects being run by each group, including opportunities and challenges, and plans and ideas for marking Inter Faith Week.
On 19 June IFN held a webinar, marking the Great Get Together, entitled ‘Getting Together at a Time of COVID-19’. This was facilitated by IFN’s Development Officer, Ashley Beck.
It included opening reflections from Jay Anderson, IFN Trustee from the local inter faith category (Leeds Concord Interfaith Fellowship and Leeds Faiths Forum), about the Great Get Together and four presentations: ‘Using digital technology to bring people together for dialogue and consultation and to widen and strengthen our work’ by Himanshu Jain, Chair, Barking and Dagenham Faith Forum; ‘Taking your local inter faith programme digital and responding to current needs’ by Shabaz Ahmed, Community Development Officer, Building Bridges Pendle; ‘Sharing prayers, poems and readings at this time of COVID-19’ by the Revd Anthea Ballam, Co-chair, Brighton and Hove Interfaith Contact Group; and ‘Using virtual meetings for the regular getting together of local inter faith bodies’ by Avtar Singh Matharu, Chair, York Interfaith Group. There were closing reflections from two of IFN’s Trustees from the local inter faith membership category: Es Rosen (Barnet Multi Faith Forum) and Patricia Stoat (Nottingham Inter Faith Council).
You can watch the recording of the webinar at https://www.interfaith.org.uk/resources/getting-together-at-a-time-of-covid-19.
INTER FAITH PROJECTS, PROGRAMMES AND DEVELOPMENTS
Applications are now open for the 2020-21 Campus Leadership Programme of the Council of Christians and Jews (CCJ). CCJ is recruiting Student Leaders to create inter faith projects which meet the needs of their universities. Through the programme students develop the leadership skills needed to be inter faith leaders at their universities and beyond. This year the programme will begin remotely with online inter faith training in September. For more information on the programme and how to apply, contact Campus Leadership Manager Katharine Crew at Katharine.Crew@ccj.org.uk.
The St Ethelburga’s Centre has launched a new series of podcasts, in collaboration with The Future Is Beautiful, which “reaches for the place where spiritual ecology and climate justice meet. It explores the integration of spirituality with grounded action through the lives and leadership of people of colour.” The first episode is with black-latinx transdisciplinary artist, educator, and designer Brontë Velez and the second is with Rabiah Abdullah, traditional herbalist, activist and community healer. https://stethelburgas.org/watch-listen-read/
As noted in IFN’s last e-bulletin a temporary coalition of faith leaders and representatives responding to the pandemic, chaired by Maurice Ostro OBE of the Fayre Share Foundation, with the name ‘Faiths United’ was formed (http://faithsforum.com/faiths-united/). An IFN staff member continues to contribute on an ad hoc basis to the discussions.
During the period of the easing of the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, Faiths United has continued to explore issues that are affecting communities with inputs from the National Bereavement Service, Teach First, United for Global Mental Health, and the National Police Chiefs’ Council as well as an input from Leicester about how local lockdowns work. It is also exploring the role that faith communities can play in responding to the pandemic, such as the Test and Trace programme.
A Faiths United Youth Network (http://faithsforum.com/faiths-united-youth-network/) has been running a programme called JOY, linking an elderly member of one faith community with a young member of another faith community to help initiate interfaith and inter-generational dialogue, working on issues around Black Lives Matter as well as running a Wednesday webinar series. It is holding a competition called Connected Communities, see below for details.
York Interfaith Group is hoping to create an ‘inter faith inter-lockdown quilt’. The idea is to create a piece of inter faith history in York. Each faith group will be creating patches to be included within the quilt. For further information, contact Dee Boyle at email@example.com.
Resources and study/training
In July a report entitled ‘Cohesive Societies: Faith and Belief’ was published. It explores the role of faith and nonreligious belief in cohesive societies. It charts social cohesion policy in the UK as it relates to faith and belief, and examines the practical impact of the faith and belief sector on communities through a series of case studies. This report was externally commissioned by the Faith and Belief Forum (FBF) and the British Academy, and authored by Dr Madedeleine Pennington, Head of Research at Theos. The report makes a contribution to the Academy’s Cohesive Societies programme which asks how societies sustain cohesiveness in the face of rapid political, social, economic and technological change. It “explores the different ways in which faith and belief interacts with societal cohesion” and has a particular emphasis on how faith organisations interact with communities.”
In response to the report, FBF is planning a series of roundtables. Further information from: Jessica Hazrati firstname.lastname@example.org.
In July the Council of Christians and Jews launched a new resource called ‘Listening and Learning: Dialogue between Christians and Jews on issues relating to Israel Palestine’, in partnership with the Methodist Church. This can be downloaded from http://www.ccj.org.uk/resources/listening-learning-dialogue-between-christians-and-jews-on-issues-relating-to-israel-palestine/. For more information, contact email@example.com.
In July Faith Action and YourNeighbour.org published ‘Engaging Locally’. This is a toolkit designed to help church leaders engage with their local authorities in service of their local communities. It offers practical advice to churches to enable them to strengthen their relationships with their local councils, with case studies of where churches are working well locally – often in partnership with charity partners. The contents of the toolkit may have some applicability to other faith communities’ partnership work. https://www.faithaction.net/news/2020/07/15/engaging-locally-new-toolkit-for-church-leaders-plus-complete-our-new-survey/?highlight=toolkit
FaithAction provides the secretariat for the Faith and Society All Party Parliamentary Group which developed a ‘faith covenant’ which can be adopted by faith groups and local authorities in cities across the UK. Local authorities and faith communities work out a local version of the commitments, according to the priorities and needs of that locality.
Interfaith Scotland is running three online training courses during August and September: 13 August ‘Interpreting culture – improving cross-cultural communication’; 9 September ‘Working with people from diverse religions & beliefs’; and 29 September ‘3 mottos to guide our approach to equality, diversity & inclusion’.
There is a fee to attend each course. For more information on each course and to book, visit https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/interfaith-scotland-16811469249. Any enquiries can be sent to Jamie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Integrity UK in partnership with Faiths Forum for London has developed a programme, ‘Beyond Dialogue’, that seeks to bridge divides, reduce hate and strengthen relations between communities aimed at Londoners. As part of Beyond Dialogue, Integrity UK will provide two training sessions to community leaders on the trends, tactics and key players within far-right extremism. Zoom sessions will run from September.
What will the training cover?
- Broaden the participants’ understanding on the far-right, including on hate speech, Islamophobia, and Antisemitism
- Build the capacity of participants by sharing practice on how faith communities can collectively work together on community activism
- Discuss wider social context drivers such as integration, deprivation and inequality
- Discuss the role of the internet and social media companies around hate speech
Further information is available at http://faithsforum.com/beyond-dialogue-programme/.
CALLS FOR INFORMATION, COMPETITIONS, AND NOMINATIONS
The theme for this year’s Art and Poetry Competition held by Westminster Faith Exchange is ‘Covid-19, Lockdown and my Faith’. The competition is open to all children and young people of all faiths in Westminster. It is free to enter and there are prizes to be won. The closing date for entries is 21 August. For more information, including the entry form, visit https://www.westminster.gov.uk/faith-exchange.
Faiths United and its Youth Network, have launched a new competition with a number of partners, for the summer holidays. The competition, called ‘Connected Communities’, is aimed at young people aged 7 to 18. They are asking young people to use their imagination, and a range of media to answer the question ‘How has the COVID-19 crisis brought your community together?’ Entrants can respond to the question through either a written piece, a photo, or a video. The closing date for entries is 28 August. Further details can be found at https://faithsunited.co.uk/competition.
Nominations are now sought for the 2020 Wilson Hinkes Peace Award. The Award is part of the Week of Prayer for World Peace (WPWP), which encourages people of all faiths to pray for peace. It recognises significant contributions by individuals, organisations or projects in furthering peace, justice and reconciliation at local levels. Focused on recognising grassroots initiatives, the Award enables otherwise untold stories to be told and honoured and seeks to inspire others to work for peace. https://www.anglicanpeacemaker.org.uk/peace-award-nominations-wanted/
The Award carries a value of £500. Nominations can come from any individual or group. Submissions in the form of a letter describing the nominee’s contribution to peace and justice issues should be sent to the WPWP Committee members: Sue Gale at email@example.com and Sue Claydon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
JOBS, INTERNSHIPS AND VOLUNTEERING
The Inter Faith Network for the UK is seeking volunteers to help with various projects. At present opportunities are for remote working only. To express an interest in volunteering, please complete the application form at https://www.interfaith.org.uk/involved/vacancies/volunteering.
The Council of Christians and Jews is seeking a new Director who will “combine deep understanding of Christian-Jewish relations with the skills and qualities to lead a dynamic team”. The successful candidate will also have proven experience in fundraising and strategy. Applications from the Jewish community would be especially welcome.
Applicants should contact Elizabeth Harris-Sawczenko at email@example.com for an informal conversation and job description. Applications should be sent by email to the Chair of Trustees, Bishop Michael Ipgrave, at firstname.lastname@example.org by 17 August. Interviews will take place during September.
The Faith and Belief Forum is seeking a Programmes Coordinator to lead the project management of its programmes across the West Midlands. The Coordinator will be responsible for both project and stakeholder management of the Community Dialogue project in Walsall and also have the opportunity to oversee the Education programmes in the region with support from the team.
This is a 6-month opportunity. The deadline to apply is 9am on 24 August. Interviews will take place on 28 August via Zoom. The role is to begin as soon as possible. For more information, including the application form, visit https://faithbeliefforum.org/career/programmes-coordinator-west-midlands.
The Charities Aid Foundation has collated a helpful list of organisations which are supporting charities and voluntary groups at this time. This was lasted updated on 31 July. https://www.cafonline.org/covid-19-support/help-for-charities#tab1
In April the Government committed funding to be distributed through the National Lottery Community Fund (NLCF) to allow organisations to meet service costs, where they are experiencing increased demand and/or short-term income disruption due to COVID-19. The Government funding is being distributed by the NLCF, alongside Lottery funding. The information notes that “If you're a group that's looking for government funding, because you can't accept funding from The National Lottery, please tell us in your application.” The closing date for applications is 17 August. The links for funding under £10,000 and over £10,000 are below.
The UK Community Foundation (UKCF) has made a new infrastructure fund available for organisations to help BAME-led organisations to apply for National Emergencies Trust grants through their local Community Foundations. An initial £250,000 has been allocated for this purpose, with more funds anticipated on a rolling basis. UKCF is seeking applications from BAME-led infrastructure organisations to access the new fund. Grants between £5,000 –£20,000 over a maximum of three months are available. https://www.ukcommunityfoundations.org/news-article/bame-infra-fund
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 current round closes on 2 September. The next round then opens on 16 September. For more information, visit https://fcccommunitiesfoundation.org.uk/funds/fcc-community-action-fund.
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. It has a small grants programme which has distributed over £1 million over the past ten years to urban and rural faith groups tackling poverty. For more information about eligibility and how to apply for a grant, including the next application deadline date, email email@example.com.
The Veolia Environmental Trust is now accepting applications for projects that will start between 11 January and 22 March. Not-for-profit organisations can apply for funding for environmental or community-based projects that are located within five miles of an operating Veolia site in England. The closing date for Stage 1 Application Forms is 3 September. For more information, visit https://www.veoliatrust.org/funding/.
Funding Central http://www.fundingcentral.org.uk, supported by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, is a free website for charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises in England. It provides access to thousands of funding and finance opportunities, together with tools and resources to develop sustainable income strategies. 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 Transform Foundation offers funding to charities to help with new website builds. Grants of £18,000 are available. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. For further information and to apply, visit https://www.transformfoundation.org.uk/funded-website-programme.
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.
National Hate Crime Awareness Week takes place from Saturday 10 October to Saturday 17 October. https://nationalhcaw.uk/
One World Week is due to take place from Sunday 18 to Sunday 25 October. Its theme this year is ‘It’s our world: Let’s make it better’. www.oneworldweek.org
Inter Faith Week will be from Sunday 8 to Sunday 15 November. www.interfaithweek.org
Scottish Interfaith Week will be from Sunday 8 to Sunday 15 November. Scottish Interfaith Week is led by Interfaith Scotland. www.scottishinterfaithweek.org
Mitzvah Day will be on Sunday 15 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/
In light of COVID-19 many events have had to be cancelled or postponed. Some events are now 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.
Challenge Poverty Week is holding a ‘Faiths Groups Get Involved’ meeting on Thursday 13 August. Challenge Poverty Week will take place from 5 to 11 October and the meeting is being held specifically for faith groups to learn more and plan activities. It will be taking place from 10am to 11.30am on Zoom. To register, visit https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZMucOyopz4sE9FdgoI8sTwpm6Ne83-HgYJW.
Interfaith Wolverhampton is holding an online ‘bring and share’ meeting on Tuesday 18 August. This will take place at 12.30pm using Zoom. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Edinburgh Interfaith Association, Edinburgh Co-Existence Initiative and Interfaith Scotland are collaborating on a youth event to be held on Tuesday 18 August at 1 pm. For further information, contact email@example.com.
Norwich InterFaith Link will be holding its next meeting online on Tuesday 18 August. Cynthia Capey will share her experiences of organising the Suffolk Interfaith group and invite questions and discussion about its aims and successes. She is also the Interfaith Adviser for the East of England Faith Agency and the Faith and Spirituality Network in Suffolk. The meeting will be held at 7.30pm via Zoom. For joining details, contact David Griffith via http://www.norwichinterfaith.co.uk/contact.php.
The Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester will be holding its annual picnic at 1pm on Sunday 6 September. Participants are invited to bring their own food and drink and folding chairs and to observe social distancing. Cllr Eamonn O'Brien hopes to attend. It will be held in St Mary's Park, St Mary's Road, Prestwich (next to the car park and the tennis courts). There is no need to book in advance. For further information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brighton and Hove Inter Faith Contact Group is holding a new series of ‘Fostering Friendship’ meetings online from September. The first meeting takes place on Wednesday 16 September from 5pm to 6pm. The meetings will provide an opportunity to learn about a range of faiths from the local ‘grassroots’. For more information, contact email@example.com.
The St Philip's Centre is holding its AGM online at 6pm on Wednesday 16 September. The Revd Mark Burleigh and Mr Kartar Singh Bring will be speaking about their experience in hospital chaplaincy during the COVID-19 pandemic. This will be followed by the formal AGM business at 6.45 pm. It is being held on Zoom. For joining instructions, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
St Ethelburga’s is holding a workshop for people of colour on Wednesday 16 September entitled ‘Remembering our stories of roots and fruits’. This workshop, with Serayna Keya Solanki, is “an online gathering for black people and people of colour who are in need of space to remember, share and root themselves in generational resilience”. It is being held online from 6.30pm to 8.30pm. For more information contact Justine Huxley at email@example.com or visit https://stethelburgas.org/event/remembering-our-stories-of-roots-and-fruits-a-workshop-for-people-of-colour-2.
More information on events and projects in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales:
Northern Ireland Inter-Faith Forum: www.niinterfaithforum.org
Interfaith Scotland: www.interfaithscotland.org
Inter-faith Council for Wales: www.interfaithwales.org.uk
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Disclaimer: Information in this bulletin has been sourced and compiled with care. IFN does not take responsibility for accuracy of information supplied by external organisations and inclusion of items within this e-bulletin does not imply endorsement or validation by IFN of the events, publications or the bodies which have produced these.
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