IFN E-bulletin November-December 2018
The Inter Faith Network E-bulletin provides news and reports on the activities of the Network and other inter faith initiatives, including ‘diary dates’.
- More faith and belief groups now permanently represented at the National Service of Remembrance
- Marking of Armistice 100
- Belief in communities: bridging the divide
- Debate on religious holidays
- Supreme Court judgment
- Review of Marriage Law
- Safeguarding and faith communities
- Security of places of worship and hate crime
- All Party Parliamentary Group on Muslims and ‘a working definition of Islamophobia’
- Religious Education Council statement on Commission on RE report
- Decline in number of RE teacher training entrants
- ‘Is Britain Fairer’ - Equality and Human Rights Commission reports
- Religious festivals
- Faith communities and organ donation
- Competitions and award schemes
- Multi faith tree planting
- Woolf Institute 20th Anniversary
- Great Get Together – Mince Pie Moments
- Mitzvah Day Awards
- Young Sacred Activist of the Year Award
- Spirted arts and poetry competitions
- Open door days and visits to places of worship
- Support for Windrush generation and Commonwealth citizens
- Call for papers – The Faith Lives of Women and Girls
- Call for papers – European Network of Buddhist-Christian studies
- Inter Faith Network for the UK –Mini Internship
- Inter Faith Network for the UK – Volunteers
- Interfaith Scotland – Volunteers
- Faith Leader Training
- Preventing hate crime: funding for community projects
- Manchester Arena Memorial Grants programme
- Arts Council funding – Creative people and places
- Heritage Lottery Fund grants to commemorate the First World War
- Building a Stronger Britain Together programme
- Faiths in Scotland Community Action Fund
- Funding websites
- Website and Facebook grants
- Google and charities
- Subsidised fundraising workshops
This year Baha’is, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Coptic Christians, Jains, Spiritualists, Zoroastrians and also Humanists were represented for the first time at the National Service of Remembrance at the Cenotaph.
When announcing the additional representation, which will be permanent, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), said that this would “reflect the significant but little-known contribution made by minority ethnic communities to Britain’s war efforts. It also sends a strong signal throughout Britain and the world that this country values the contribution of its diverse communities.”
The full press release is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/more-faith-and-belief-groups-to-join-the-national-service-of-remembrance.
The UK marked Remembrance Sunday this year with special events to mark the Centenary of the end of the First World War. #Armistice100 was used as the hashtag for social media and a special website set up for national coverage https://armistice100.org.uk/.
11 November was also the first day of Inter Faith Week and IFN produced a short resource to help those wishing to mark both. This can be found at https://www.interfaithweek.org/resources/armistice-100
10,000 members of the public had the opportunity to form a procession past the Cenotaph in central London on 11 November and, as noted above, more faith communities were represented at the Cenotaph service.
In Wales faith leaders attended the National Service of Remembrance at Llandaff Cathedral led by the Archbishop of Wales. https://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/live-updates-remembrance-sunday-across-15398098
In Edinburgh representatives of faith organisations were among those laying over 100 wreaths at a service organised by Legion Scotland at the Stone of Remembrance outside Edinburgh’s city chambers. https://www.scotsman.com/news/communities-across-scotland-mark-100-years-since-first-world-war-armistice-1-4827866
Belfast hosted one of the six Royal British Legion Fields of Remembrance in the UK where small remembrance crosses stood alongside the Muslim crescent, star of David, Sikh khanda and Hindu orn to honour those who died.
Many faith communities and inter faith groups organised commemorations. Just a few of these are below.
A service was led by Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis at the Cenotaph for the Association of Jewish Ex-servicemen and women to honour the community’s contribution to the Armed Forces https://www.thejc.com/community/community-news/ajex-remembrance-parade-hundreds-pay-tribute-to-jewish-military-service-1.472695
A special inter faith assembly to pay tribute to soldiers from India and the Commonwealth who served during the First World War was held at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in London http://londonmandir.baps.org/2018/11/interfaith-remembrance-marking-armistice-centenary/
In the West Midlands a sculpture called ‘Lions of the Great War’ was unveiled outside the Guru Nanak Gurdwara in Smethwick which honours service personnel of all faiths from the Indian subcontinent who fought for Britain during WW1 and other conflicts. http://www.sikhchannel.tv/uk-statue-of-sikh-soldier-unveiled-to-honour-100-years-since-end-of-world-war-i/
Oasis partnered with Coventry Cathedral, Corrymeela, Quakers in Britain, Facing History and Ourselves, Cymru Dros Heddwch and Wales for Peace on a project called Inspire which engaged thousands of schoolchildren.
The chaplaincy at Edge Hill University held a Remembrance vigil. https://www.interfaithweek.org/events/Faith-Fair-and-Remembrance-Vigil-2255
The Forgotten Heroes 14-19 Foundation, in association with Uthink and ArtsFest, presented an exhibition called ‘Singularity of Peace’ honouring the role of Muslims in World War One. https://www.lbhf.gov.uk/articles/news/2018/09/exhibition-honour-role-muslims-first-world-war
On 14 November, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government published a report by Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, Minister for Faith called Belief in communities: bridging the divide.
The report is based on Lord Bourne’s recent Faith in Communities tour on which he visited over 55 places of worship, across over 20 beliefs and denominations across the country. It talks about how faith communities are helping to make strong neighbourhoods and highlights some of the work to create ‘cohesive and resilient inter faith communities’. It also makes recommendations to ensure these ideas are shared and replicated more widely.
The report can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/belief-in-communities-bridging-the-divide.
A debate was held at Westminster Hall on 29 October on the subject of public holidays on religious occasions. It was held in response to two separate e-petitions, one of which concerned the Hindu festivals of Diwali and Dussera, and the other of which concerned the Muslim festivals of Eid ul Fitr and Eid ul Adha.
Usually, Westminster Hall debates are only held where there are more than 100,000 signatures to a petition, and the combined total for these two petitions was under 60,000. The debate was, however, moved by Martyn Day, SNP MP for Linlithgow and East Falkirk, who is a member of the Petitions Committee. In doing so, he noted that there were no petitions over the threshold to be considered at that time; that when combined, these two petitions had the largest number of signatures of any under consideration; that they represented “issues that primarily affect minority groups who may find it difficult to attract 100,000 signatures”; and that the issue was of “interest to a significant number of people in the wider public”.
The record of the debate can be found at https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2018-10-29/debates/6EF118AA-489B-4ADC-B915-FFE29C922C4E/PublicHolidaysOnReligiousOccasions and a summary, and commentary with background information here https://www.lawandreligionuk.com/2018/10/31/mps-debate-additional-religious-holidays/
Government’s response in both cases was that creation of additional public holidays was not desirable on economic grounds, although it “encourage[s] employers to respond flexibly and sympathetically to any requests for leave, including requests for religious holidays, bearing in mind business needs.”
Judgment was handed down by the Supreme Court on 10 October in the case of Lee v Ashers Baking Company Ltd. The case concerned a bakery in Northern Ireland (Ashers) which offered a bespoke cake service, and a gay man (Mr Lee) who asked the bakery to produce a cake iced with the slogan ‘Support Gay Marriage’ which he wished to take to a campaign event. The bakery was owned by a Christian couple (Mr and Mrs McArthur) who hold the religious belief that the only form of marriage consistent with Biblical teaching and acceptable to God is that between a man and a woman. Mrs McArthur initially took the order, but later advised Mr Lee that she could not in conscience produce such a cake.
Mr Lee brought a case against the McArthurs of direct and indirect discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, and/ or grounds of religious belief or political opinion. The county court held that there was direct discrimination, both on grounds of sexual orientation and on grounds of religious belief or political opinion. An appeal was brought to the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal, which held that there was direct discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, but did not answer all of the questions brought with the appeal. The case was then referred to the Supreme Court.
The Judgement ruled by the Supreme Court was that there was no discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in the case, as the case concerned a message rather than the actual or perceived sexual orientation of the customer. The Court also judged that because the objection was to their being required to promote a message with which they disagreed, rather than to Mr Lee, the situation was not comparable with people being refused jobs or services simply because of their religious faith. It further judged that the legislation should not be read or given effect in such a way as to compel the appellants to promote a message with which they profoundly disagreed.
The case had generated much attention at all stages, and is a significant one concerning freedom of thought, conscience and religion and freedom of expression.
The full judgement and a press summary are available at https://www.supremecourt.uk/cases/uksc-2017-0020.html
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced that the Government will ask the Law Commission to review marriage law in England and Wales. The project will look to propose options for a simpler and fairer system to give modern couples meaningful choice. The terms of reference are yet to be set.
This step follows the Law Commission's scoping Paper of 2015 outlining a range of problems with the existing law governing how and where people can marry. https://www.lawcom.gov.uk/government-asks-law-commission-to-conduct-a-full-review-of-weddings-law/
A new All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Safeguarding in Faith Settings was launched in September; and its web page in November: https://thirtyoneeight.org/news-and-events/appg/.
The APPG's purpose is to "focus on safeguarding concerns relevant to any community of faith, belief or religion. To raise awareness and improve policy and practice in relation to safeguarding in faith settings and to encourage both the opportunity and responsibility of those faith groups and communities in creating safer places for all”. The Group is co-chaired by Sarah Champion (Lab, Rotherham) and Michael Tomlinson (Con, Mid Dorset and North Poole), and the Secretariat is provided by Thirtyone:eight.
Safeguarding was a topic of discussion at the last meeting of IFN’s Faith Communities Forum in October, at which there was a presentation by Mustafa Field of Strengthening Faith Institutions about its work in this area.
The Social Care Institute for Excellence is working with a number of faith groups on safeguarding issues. Information on an inter faith breakfast that it recently held for faith leaders can be found at https://www.scie.org.uk/safeguarding/faith-groups/communities.
Concerns about security of places of worship remain and for the Jewish community became the more acute following the terrible attack on the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh on 27 October. The following day the Co-Chairs and Faith Communities Forum Moderators of IFN put out a statement which included the words:
“Like attacks on churches, gurdwaras, mosques, temples and other places of worship of different faiths here and around the world, it is a reminder of the need to condemn extremist violence in the strongest terms and to stand together and to continue to work together with ever greater urgency against ignorance, prejudice and hatred.
There is no place in civilised society for Antisemitism.
Nor is there a place for Islamophobia and hatreds targeting communities of other faiths and beliefs.
All communities must be able to exist in safety and to practise their faith freely and without fear.”
On 31 October, a new nationwide hate crime campaign aimed at increasing awareness and understanding of what constitutes a hate crime was launched by the government following consultation on it with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the Independent Advisory Group on Hate Crime and other organisations.
The strapline of the campaign is: ‘If you target anyone with verbal, online or physical abuse because of their religion, race, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity – you may be committing a hate crime. It’s not just offensive. It’s an offence.’ Adverts are running on video-on-demand sites, social media and posters across the country. Each video or poster features a different offender, represented by an e-fit, and a hate crime taking place.
The campaign website also signposts organisations where victims and witnesses can get the support they need.
The campaign forms part of the Government’s wider programme of work to tackle hate crime. On 16 October it published its updated Hate Crime Action Plan relating to England and Wales. That outlines actions the government will take to: prevent hate crime; respond to hate crime; increase reporting of hate crimes; improve support for victims and build an understanding of hate crime. The Government is also: asking the Law Commission to review hate crime legislation; making available further funding for community groups to tackle hate crime; and extending the Places of Worship Security Scheme for a fourth year.
The Home Office is running a grant programme to work with affected communities to fund the development of projects that prevent hate crime. More information on this is below.
Tell MAMA has published its 2018 6-month Interim Report, Gendered Anti-Muslim Hatred and Islamophobia. Tell MAMA recorded a total of 685 reports. Of these reports, 608 were verified as being anti-Muslim or Islamophobic in nature and as having occurred in the UK between January and June 2018. A higher proportion of attacks were directed towards women. https://tellmamauk.org/gendered-anti-muslim-hatred-and-islamophobia-street-based-aggression-in-cases-reported-to-tell-mama-is-alarming
On 27 November, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on British Muslims launched their latest report: Islamophobia Defined- The inquiry into a working definition of Islamophobia.
The APPG on British Muslims was established on 18 July 2017, to build on the work of the APPG on Islamophobia. The group is co-chaired by Anna Soubry MP and Wes Streeting MP. The core aims of the Group are to highlight the aspirations and challenges facing British Muslims; to celebrate the contributions of Muslim communities to Britain and to investigate prejudice, discrimination and hatred against Muslims in the UK. An inquiry into a working definition of Islamophobia was opened in April 2018.
Following consultation with academics, lawyers, local and nationally elected officials, Muslim organisation, activists, campaigners and local Muslim communities, the definition recommended by the report is as follows: “Islamaphobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.”
The full report, along with the executive summary can be found at:
As reported in the last issue of the e-bulletin, on 9 September the Commission on Religious Education published its final report: Religion and Worldviews: the way forward. A national plan for RE. The same day the Religious Education Council of England and Wales (REC) made a statement which can be found at https://www.religiouseducationcouncil.org.uk/news/rec-comment-on-the-final-report-from-commission-on-re/.
At a meeting on 16 October the Board of the REC authorised the REC and the RE Policy Unit to proceed with work towards securing the full implementation of the Report. In addition it made the following public statement:
“The Religious Education Council –
- Fully and wholeheartedly endorses the vision of the report
- Affirms the usefulness of all 11 recommendations, phased as suggested in the timeline
- Intends to engage urgently with the DfE, all our member organisations, and other RE stakeholders in implementation.”
On 29 November the Department for Education published figures showing the Initial Teacher Training (ITT) Census for the academic year 2018 to 2019, England. This shows that the number of new entrants to postgraduate initial teacher training for the academic year 2018-19 is 375 (58% of the Government’s target). This is a fall from the 2017-18 year for which it was 400 (62% of the Government’s target). Further information is at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/initial-teacher-training-trainee-number-census-2018-to-2019.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has recently launched its ‘Is Britain Fairer?’ ‘Is Scotland Fairer?’ and ‘Is Wales Fairer?’ reports. ‘Is Britain Fairer’ is a three-yearly project by the EHRC to review the state of equality and human rights in England, Scotland and Wales. Across the reports it examines six areas of everyday life to assess how much progress has been made towards a fairer Britain over the past three years.
The reports highlight trends, emerging issues and the action that needs to be taken now to improve the life chances of the next generation. They also make a number of recommendations to Governments and other organisations and will inform the EHRC’s programme of work for the next three years. The executive summary of the reports highlight some improvements in education, political participation and work, but also focus on an increase in poverty, ‘forgotten’ groups and regressions in justice and personal security.
More information, including the full reports and supporting data, is available at https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/britain-fairer.
The pattern of religious festivals in different faith communities changes throughout the year. A number have recently taken place such as Navaratri (Hindu), Bandi Chhor Divas (Sikh), Diwali (Hindu, Jain and Sikh), the Birth of the Bab and the Birth of Baha’u’llah (Baha’i), the Birthday of Guru Nanak (Sikh) and the Birthday of the Prophet Muhammad (Muslim). Advent (Christian) and Chanukah (Jewish) are taking place now.
The Shap Working Party on World Religions in Education, an IFN member body, produces a calendar of religious festivals, which is available in electronic format, and also a wallchart which can be purchased in hard copy. http://www.shapworkingparty.org.uk/calendar.html
During Inter Faith Week NHS Blood and Transplant encouraged people across different faith communities to help dispel myths and misconceptions by talking about organ donation. The aim was to increase understanding of organ donation and the stances of different faiths as well as be an opportunity for people to publicly show their support for donation. Discussions were encouraged, including on social media using the hashtags #InterFaithWeek and #YesIDonate. https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/news-and-campaigns/news/talk-about-organ-donation-and-help-to-save-lives-this-inter-faith-week/
Organ donation laws vary in different countries across the United Kingdom.
The current legislation for England is to opt in to organ and tissue donation. In the Summer the Government published a response to its consultation into the organ donation system in England and confirmed that under the proposed new system (commonly known as ‘deemed consent’ or ‘opt out’) everybody would be considered a potential organ donor unless they have added their details to the NHS Organ Donor Register to say that they do not wish to donate their organs or are in one of the excluded groups. They have provisionally indicated that the system may be in place in April 2020.
The current legislation for Scotland is to opt in to organ and tissue donation. The Human Tissue (Authorisation) (Scotland) Bill, which includes provision for a 'deemed authorisation system', was published by the Scottish Government in June for consideration by the Scottish Parliament. The date for the change to legislation is not known but could be spring 2020.
The current legislation for Northern Ireland is to opt in to organ and tissue donation. Following detailed consideration of the issue, the Northern Ireland Assembly decided in 2016 not to proceed with any changes to the basis of consent for organ donation. However, they introduced a new statutory requirement for the Department of Health to promote organ donation as a means of increasing the number of organs available for transplantation.
The legislation for Wales is ‘deemed consent’. This means that if you haven’t registered an organ and tissue donation decision (opt in or opt out), you will be considered to have no objection to becoming a donor.
More information on the legislation is at https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/faq/is-organ-donation-law-changing/. Information on the NHS Organ Donor Register and how to join is at https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/.
The 10th Inter Faith Week took place from 11 to 18 November. Over 600 activities are thus far known to have taken place across the UK. More on these can be found at www.interfaithweek.org. If you held an event for Inter Faith Week, please take time to respond to IFN’s survey about the Week at https://www.interfaithweek.org/resources/feedback so that the Week can be further strengthened for the future.
The Co-Chairs of the Inter Faith Network for the UK, which leads on the Week, said:
"Inter Faith Week 2018 has been an enormously energetic and positive Week. There have been hundreds of events involving thousands of people of different backgrounds, young and old. It has been wonderful to see faith communities leading in activities in many areas and first time participants from primary schools through to major national employers entering into the annual opportunity to deepen understanding, respect and cooperation.”
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. This year, Remembrance Sunday was also the centenary of Armistice Day, which brought an additional dimension.
Churches, gurdwaras, mandirs, synagogues, mosques, temples, viharas, schools, sports grounds, parks, council chambers, museums and galleries, libraries, community centres, hospitals and hospices, concourses of major rail stations - just a few of the places that events were held. There were practical projects such as tree planting by groups of different faiths and collections for those in need, discussions and dialogues, arts and cultural events, and much more. Tough issues were tackled, as well as commonalities and friendship celebrated.
In the course of the Week, the Government’s Minister for Faith, Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, launched his report ‘Belief in communities: bridging the divide’, about which more is said above. Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, the Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP, attended, as the local MP, the London Borough of Bexley’s Faith in the Community Awards.
Wales saw a special event supported by the Welsh Government and arranged by the Inter-faith Council for Wales, ‘Walking alongside our Communities’ with Welsh Government Minister Julie James AM. In Belfast, Inter Faith Week was marked with a reception for the Northern Ireland Inter Faith Forum at City Hall.
National inter faith initiatives and local inter faith groups have been showcased through the Week, organising dialogues, workshops, concerts, festivals, fairs, exhibitions, faith trails and many other kinds of activity. Remembrance events of many kinds were part of this, such as at Dor Kemmyn Field near Truro.
National faith communities played a key role in the Week. Some held events linked to both the Week and #Armistice100, for example the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha which held an event at Neasden Temple in London, honouring the contribution of Indian and Commonwealth soldiers in World War 1. Others, such as the Muslim Council of Britain, held discussion events or, like the Baptist Union of Great Britain, used the Week to launch new resources. Faith leaders also contributed to other events, for example, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis at the Inter Faith Week event of the Indian Jewish Association.
The Week saw participation from a growing number of companies and employers, such as Network Rail and the UK Civil Service, and was also the platform for awareness-raising by bodies such as NHS Blood and Transplant and a number of National Health Trusts. Fire and Rescue Services and Police joined in many local events.
In schools such as Gorsey Bank primary in Wilmslow and Polam Hall School Darlington, pupils have used the Week as an opportunity to learn about other traditions, as well as to celebrate the diversity of their communities and those who live and worship in them.
In colleges and universities, students ran activities from sport, health and exercise sessions to ‘speed faithing’, quizzes and competitions to acts of service and charitable collections. They have been supported and encouraged in doing so by the NUS, by chaplaincies and faith centres, by national faith-based student bodies, and by national inter faith organisations. Youth engagement, more generally, in the Week has been high. The Faith and Belief Forum’s Interfaith Summit brought together many young people to discuss key issues and young people also played a significant role in events in areas such as Bolton as well as through youth bodies like the Girls Brigade and Scouts.
Local authorities in a number of areas have played a key role with some supporting and encouraging extensive programmes, for example a cross-Kent Open Door series arranged by Kent County Council, or supporting particular events such as Middlesbrough City of Kindness.
Full week programmes were held in several places such as Birmingham, Bolton, Kirklees, Leicester, Preston and York as well as a number of campuses such as University of Leeds.
The Near Neighbours and Presence and Engagement programmes of the Church of England have played an active support role in many areas and grants from the Inter Faith Youth Trust have enabled a number of special youth events.
There was a social action focus to a number of events such as Brighton and Hove Faith in Action and Brighton and Hove City Council’s event celebrating social welfare and community development projects delivered by the city’s faith communities.
Inter Faith Week concluded with the social action focused Mitzvah Day, with which it has a strong link. This is a special Jewish-led day of service focussed on bringing communities together in ‘acts of loving kindness’. Many of these were run on an inter faith basis, including the ‘chicken soup challenge’ in which Jews and Muslims cooked over 1,000 portions of soup together at the East London Mosque before distributing these to those in need in the local community.
Scottish Interfaith Week also took place from 11 to 18 November, and its theme this year was ‘Connecting Generations’.
Interfaith Scotland, which leads on the Week, estimates that 80 events and activities took place to mark the Week. A launch event was held by Interfaith Scotland in Aberdeen. Among the other events and activities were the Interfaith Summit hosted by the First Minister at the Scottish Parliament, a Civic Reception hosted by Glasgow City Council with Interfaith Glasgow at Glasgow City Chambers and Edinburgh Inter Faith Association launching a national website resource called ‘The Ground We Share’. Lots of Scottish local inter faith groups held events on themes from domestic abuse to taking care of the planet to remembrance.
On 16 October IFN held a day event in Bradford for local inter faith practitioners. The event was an opportunity for people from local inter faith groups anywhere in the UK to come together to share their experiences, discuss issues of common interest and concern and discuss practical aspects of developing successful inter faith programmes as well as the challenges.
Participants were welcomed to Bradford by Mohinder Singh Chana, and Balu Lad, Chair and Vie-Chair of Bradford Concord Interfaith Society and Denise Raby, Secretary of the Keighley Interfaith Group. This was followed by reflections from Rt Revd Dr Toby Howarth, Bishop of Bradford, on the importance of local inter faith engagement.
The morning session focussed on standing together to tackle prejudice and hatred. Dr Harriet Crabtree, Executive Director of IFN talked about ways in which prejudice and hateful speech and action are affecting communities and individuals and why local inter faith response is crucial. Mufti Helal Uddin Mahmood, from the Oldham Interfaith Forum, and Es Rosen, from Barnet Multi Faith Forum, talked about their respective forums work on these issues.
In the afternoon participants heard from Amria Khatun, Integration Lead for the Bradford area, Ministry of Communities, Housing and Local Government, who spoke about the significance of local inter faith engagement in the Government’s integration strategy. There was then discussion on what the future looks like for local inter faith engagement.
There were discussion groups on: developing local inter faith organisation programmes with impact; engaging young people in local inter faith activity; exploring funding and resources for local inter faith work; Twitter as a tool for local inter faith groups; dialogue about challenging issues; and Inter Faith Week and other special days/weeks as a platform for developing local inter faith work.
The event was drawn to a close by final reflections from Jatinder Singh Birdi, Co-Chair of IFN who had chaired the day.
Reports from previous events held for local inter faith practitioners in Bristol, Coventry, London, Manchester and Sheffield can be found at https://www.interfaith.org.uk/resources/publications.
Competitions and award schemes are becoming an ever more popular way of highlighting contributions to such goals as standing up to hate crime; developing good inter faith relations; and contributing in other ways to local communities.
Inter Faith Week saw a number of awards ceremonies taking place, such at 21 for 21 where the Church Times, The Jewish News and BritishMuslimTV, with Coexist House gave awards to 21 Christian, Jewish and Muslim "inspiring individuals aged under 40 who are increasing dialogue and breaking down barriers – particularly as volunteers but also in their working lives." https://jewishnews.timesofisrael.com/interfaith-21-faith-leaders-for-the-21st-century/
Locally, award ceremonies took place in Bristol: http://bristolmultifaithforum.org.uk/love-your-neighbour-awards/ (sponsored and hosted by Bristol Rovers) and in Bexley, where over 200 local people of different faiths were invited to the Civic Offices in Bexleyheath to celebrate the hard work and achievements of the borough’s faith groups. https://www.bexley.gov.uk/news/bexleys-first-ever-faith-community-awards
Later in November, The Faith & Belief Forum supported by Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Greater London’s Council on Faith, held an awards ceremony to recognise Londoners working to serve their communities and bring people from different backgrounds together https://faithbeliefforum.org/faith-belief-community-awards-celebrate-londons-unsung-heroes
The Mitzvah Day 2018 Awards are open for nominations. More information on this is below.
The Faiths Forum for London is running an annual tree planting initiative, with funding from the Mayor of London. They are challenging faith communities and organisations to plant at least one tree. IFN member bodies Barnet Multi Faith Forum and Barking & Dagenham Faith Forum have participated in the initiative.
Trees symbolise different things to people of diverse faiths and none. People of all faiths and beliefs can unite and plant trees together to show solidarity. London organisations that are interested in planting a tree as a symbol of inter faith unity can email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive their free tree planting toolkit.
The Woolf Institute was founded in 1998. Their aim was “to provide an academic framework and space in which people could tackle issues of religious difference constructively”. This year it is celebrating its 20th Anniversary with a series of events and activities. The most recent of these was a research day in Cambridge which offered an opportunity to evaluate and further develop their research into contemporary religion and society.
Following the 20th Anniversary Research Day, the Woolf Institute opened its third photographic exhibition, ‘Jewish Worship, European Spaces’. The exhibition, displayed throughout the Woolf Institute Building, features synagogues of Europe, past and present.
The Great Get Together has just launched the second year of its #MincePieMoments campaign.
It is asking everyone who is part of The Great Get Together to reach out to their community this Christmas, to help tackle loneliness and bring people closer together. This can be through, for example, organising a community meal, setting an extra place at the table or knocking on a neighbour’s door. There is a guide on how to get involved, and lots of resources, at http://www.greatgettogether.org/mince-pie-moments-resources-skipsignup.
St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace is organising a skills workshop on ‘Telling stories about spirituality and social change’ for young adults (18-36 years old) who are engaged in some form of social action, and who are also rooted in a particular faith or spiritual commitment on 12 and 13 January 2019.
To apply, fill out the form at https://stethelburgas.org/event/skills-workshop-for-young-leaders-telling-stories-about-spirituality-and-social-change/. For more information, contact email@example.com.
Nominations for the 2018-2019 Mitzvah Day Awards are now open. One of the categories is Outstanding Interfaith Partnership for the best collaborative project between Jews and another faith group/s, with an emphasis on bringing people of different faiths together.
Guidance on how to nominate a person or project, can be found at https://mitzvahday.org.uk/mitzvah-day-2018-awards-nominate-your-favourite-project-now/. The closing date is Sunday 16 December.
St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace is seeking nominations for extraordinary young people of 38 years or under who are making an innovative contribution to social change from a place rooted in faith or spiritual values.
Nominations should be submitted by 5pm on 14 February 2019 through https://stethelburgas.org/projects/young-sacred-activist-of-the-year-award/. For more information, email Justine Huxley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The National Association of Teachers of Religious Education (NATRE) has opened its annual arts and poetry competitions.
This year’s themes are: Pilgrimages and journeys; Questions, questions; Where is God?; Window to the soul; and Mystery of life.
Full details of how to enter along with terms and conditions can be found on the NATRE website at https://www.natre.org.uk/about-natre/projects/spirited-arts/spirited-arts-gallery/2018/. The competitions will run until 31 July 2019.
An important way to help people learn about faith traditions and to dispel negative stereotypes is for communities to invite them into their places of worship – for example for guided visits or to join in particular social or other events.
Over the years, the Inter Faith Network has highlighted many positive example of this, showcasing openings as part of local inter faith walks and trails and special days.
As part of some further resource work that the IFN office is doing on this, we would be very glad to hear from places of worship about their experiences The kinds of questions where reflections would be helpful are:
- Does your place of worship hold open door days where the public can visit?
- Do you accept visits from, eg, schools?
- Why do you think this is important?
- Are there particular challenges you face, such as ensuring security?
- Do you have a training process for your guides?
We would also be pleased to hear from local inter faith bodies about their experience of working with local places of worship to enable openings of these for faith trails, Inter Faith Week etc.
Please email email@example.com If you prefer to talk on the phone, just let us have a number for that purpose and we will give you a ring. Responses can be attributed or anonymised as preferred.
The Commonwealth Taskforce, set up by the Home Office, has been carrying out a consultation on the Compensation Scheme for those “who have struggled to confirm their rightful status under the immigration system”, including in particular the Windrush generation.
They are keen to reach as many people as possible who might have concerns about their immigration status. Anyone who settled in the UK before 1988 from any country could be helped by the Taskforce. The team could provide documents to demonstrate the right to be in the UK and people who settled before 1973 might be eligible for a free citizenship application. Further information can be found at www.gov.uk/windrush or by calling Freephone 0800 678 1925.
Call for papers - The Faith Lives of Women and Girls: Identities, Experiences, Practices, and Beliefs
The Queen’s Foundation, Birmingham is holding a two day conference in March 2019 exploring the diverse faith lives, identities, experiences, practices, and beliefs of self-identifying girls and women, in their individual, community, and institutional contexts. It welcomes postgraduates, early-career researchers, academics and grassroots practitioners. The conference examines gender and feminism in religions, spiritualities, and theologies. For more information about The Faith Lives of Women and Girls, see http://www.queens.ac.uk/the-faith-lives-of-women-and-girls.
Abstracts (200-300 words) for 20 minute papers should be submitted to Professor Nicola Slee (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Dr Dawn Llewellyn (email@example.com) by 14 December. Abstracts should be submitted as a word document including name, address, affiliation, title of paper, and email address.
The European Network of Buddhist-Christian Studies is holding its 13th conference in June 2019 at the Archabbey of St Ottilien near Munich, and is extending an invitation to the conference and a call for papers. The theme of this conference concerns the ENCBS’ vision for Buddhist-Christian encounter. A variety of topics will be addressed, including ‘May popular religion alter the course of dialogue?” and ‘May dialogue change our understanding of the human being?’. Further details about the conference programme and registration details are available at http://www.buddhist-christian-studies.org.
Proposals for papers should be emailed to Dr Elizabeth Harris, President of the Network, by 28 February 2019, at E.firstname.lastname@example.org.
IFN’s website lists job and internship opportunities with a significant inter faith dimension with IFN member organisations at https://www.interfaith.org.uk/involved/vacancies/jobs.
The Inter Faith Network is seeking to recruit an Intern to work for a 10-week period from January to March to help on projects such as national Inter Faith Week (www.interfaithweek.org), local inter faith support and development of website resources.
The role is 4 days per week and is based at the IFN office in London. For an application form, contact email@example.com.
The Inter Faith Network for the UK has regular volunteering opportunities. Further information about these can be found on IFN’s website.
Inter Faith Scotland offers a number of volunteer opportunities, including helping their staff at the office and at events. It also runs a volunteer programme called ‘Face to Faith’ where volunteers have the opportunity to share their faith with school pupils of all ages.
For further details contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The last issue of the e-bulletin noted that in the Green Paper on the Integrated Communities Strategy the Government committed to supporting the training of faith leaders to strengthen ministering in the British context and that a survey about this had been sent by The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to faith community organisations.
MHCLG has now published a call for prospective training providers interested in delivering non-theological, voluntary training for faith leaders in England. The prospectus says “We want to ensure that suitable training is available for religious ministers across all faiths to help broaden their understanding of (and relationship between) a suite of safeguarding topics, relevant legal frameworks and shared values, such as the rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect, democracy and tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs.”
It explains that ‘at a minimum’ the Government expects the training provision “to ensure faith leaders are well-equipped and well-positioned to teach their congregations about their rights and responsibilities in the following areas, as well as to be able to identify issues, support affected individuals and signpost people to relevant guidance, legislation and support services in the following areas: Domestic Abuse; Forced Marriage; Female Genital Mutilation; Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation; Mental Health. Training programmes should also cover: Marriage legislation; Equalities legislation; Hate crime legislation and how to respond to / report hate crime; Shared values.” Among the restrictions on the funding is that “Activities promoting a religious faith or belief, acquisition of religious objects or the cost of supporting religiously-employed personnel.”
The full prospectus, application form and evaluation and scoring guide are available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/faith-leader-training-prospectus-and-application-form . To apply, prospective training providers should send a completed application form to FaithLeaderTraining@communities.gov.uk by 5pm on Thursday 20 December.
The Home Office is running a grant programme to work with affected communities to fund the development of projects that: “prevent hate crime, respond to hate crime in our communities, increase the reporting of hate crime, improve the support for the victims of hate crime, and build our understanding of hate crime”.
The guidance for applicants, including the application form and further information, is available at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/preventing-hate-crime-funding-for-community-projects#history. The programme opened earlier this Autumn and the closing date for applications is 7 December.
The Inter Faith Youth Trust is launching a new grant programme for young people’s organisations to hold inter faith events or activities in the Greater Manchester area. May 2019 will mark two years since the bombing at the Manchester Arena. The focus of the project is to highlight the good that can come from different communities working together in friendship.
Grants will be awarded for projects or activities held in the Greater Manchester Area from April to June 2019. Projects must include learning by children and young people (11-25 years old) from different faiths about different faiths, through social action. Projects must include more than one faith and show how the social action will promote learning about faiths.
Grants will only be given to organisations/groups, not to individuals. Grants are for between £200 and £1,000. Applications must reach IFYT by Friday 9 February 2019 on the official online application form at http://www.ifyouthtrust.org.uk.
The Creative People and Places fund focuses on supporting communities to access arts and cultural opportunities, in 79 areas with below average participation in the arts. A new round of funding opens in January 2019, and will be available for community organisations or groups that can partner with cultural organisations. The Arts Council is holding a number of information events throughout October and November for those interested in applying.
For more information about the fund, and to book a place at an information event, visit https://www.artscouncil.org.uk/creative-people-and-places/creative-people-and-places-programme-2019#section-2.
The Heritage Lottery Fund has £4million of funding available for communities to get involved in projects marking the Centenary of the First World War. Projects applying for funding must be able to meet one of a number of successful outcomes based on heritage, people and communities. Grants can be given between £3,000 and £10,000. Grants are still being considered up until 18 January 2019.
Further information can be found at https://www.hlf.org.uk/looking-funding/our-grant-programmes/first-world-war-then-and-now.
The Home Office programme Building a Stronger Britain Together is continuing to offer in-kind support such as social media training, technical assistance to help a group improve their website, or capacity building work to help a group protect more vulnerable individuals. It is open to bodies in England and Wales. Applications for in-kind support can be submitted at any time.
Further information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/building-a-stronger-britain-together.
Faiths in Scotland Community Action Fund continues to be open for applications to its rolling small grants scheme. Small grants of up to £750 are available to faith based anti -poverty projects with an annual turnover of £30,000 or less and can be applied for at any time. For more information call 0141 221 4576 or visit https://www.faithincommunityscotland.org/faith-in-community-scotland-action-fund/our-grants/smallgrants/.
The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) offers advice on fundraising and grants on its Knowhow Nonprofit site at https://knowhownonprofit.org/funding.
Funding Central - http://www.fundingcentral.org.uk/default.aspx - is a free website for charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises in England that provides access to thousands of funding and finance opportunities, together with tools and resources for supporting organisations to develop sustainable income strategies appropriate to their needs. 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 is offering funding to charities to help with new website builds. Grants of £18,000 are available. It is also offering grants towards Facebook advertising of £5,000. For further information and to apply, visit www.transformfoundation.org.uk.
Google is offering a service to registered charities which brings: Google Ad Grants: Free AdWords advertising to promote their websites on Google through keyword targeting; YouTube Nonprofit Programme: Access exclusive resources, features and programs designed to maximise their organisations’ impact on YouTube; and Google Apps for Non-profit: Free version of the Google Apps business productivity suite, including Gmail, Docs, Calendar and more. For further information, visit www.google.co.uk/intl/en/nonprofits/join.
The Foundation for Social Improvement offers heavily 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 in December (York) and January (Reading and Newcastle) can be found at http://www.thefsi.org/services/training.
Holocaust Memorial Day will take place on 27 January. Its theme in 2019 is ‘Torn from home’. Holocaust Memorial Day is the day for everyone to remember the millions of people murdered in the Holocaust, under Nazi Persecution, and in the genocides which followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur. It honours the survivors of these regimes and challenges everyone to use the lessons of their experience to inform their lives today. www.hmd.org.uk/
World Interfaith Harmony Week takes place in the first week of February. It is a UN recognised Week which was proposed to the UN General Assembly by HM King Abdullah of Jordan. The first UN World Interfaith Harmony Week took place in February 2011. http://worldinterfaithharmonyweek.com
VisitMyMosque Day 2019 will take place on Sunday 3 March. In 2018 over 200 mosques across the UK held open days to welcome in their neighbours from other communities. Registrations are now open to take part in the 2019 event. For further information, visit www.visitmymosque.org.
Sadaqa Day will take place on Sunday 24 March. It is an annual day of faith-based social action led by the Muslim community. mysadaqaday.org
The Big Lunch will be taking place across the weekend of 1-2 June. Across the years millions of people from different faith backgrounds have joined together to take part through street parties, BBQs, iftars and picnics. https://www.edenprojectcommunities.com/thebiglunchhomepage
The Great Get Together will be taking place across the weekend of 21-23 June. The initiative was set up in 2017 inspired by Jo Cox MP who died the previous year. It encourages communities to come together through activities such as street parties, sports days, BBQs, picnics and coffee mornings. https://www.greatgettogether.org/
This section includes a sample of some of the events taking place around the UK during December and January. We also include information on diary dates between e-bulletins on the IFN website at https://www.interfaith.org.uk/involved/events.
Interfaith Scotland is hosting the Cross-Party Group on Freedom of Religion or Belief at the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday 5 December. Register with email@example.com to attend and hear from the Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.
Crawley Interfaith Network is holding a Christmas social on Saturday 8 December from 6pm to 9pm at Crawley URC Church, Worth Park Avenue, Crawley, RH10 3DT. Details to be confirmed. For further details, contact Iyad Daoud at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01293 883 372.
The Multi-Faith Centre at the University of Derby is hosting the first of the Leverhulme Lectures on Tuesday 11 December. The lecture will be on ‘Religion, Conflict and Peace-building in the Balkans’ and the speaker will be Dr Ina Merdjanova, Leverhulme Visiting Professor Coventry University and Adjunct Professor Irish School of Ecumenics/Trinity College Dublin. It is being held from 6pm to 8pm at the Centre in Derby. For further information, visit www.multifaithcentre.org.
Wellingborough Inter Faith is holding a meeting on Tuesday 11 December for which the guest speaker will be Malcolm Deboo of the Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe. He will be speaking on ‘The Zoroastrians – Beliefs and Practices’. It is being held at 7.30pm at Victoria Centre, 46-50 Palk Road, Wellingborough NN8 1HR. For further information, contact Cynthia Bailey at email@example.com.
Epsom and Ewell Inter Faith Forum is organising a visit to St Martin’s Church, Epsom, KT17 54PX at 6pm on Sunday 16 December for Nine Lessons and Carols, followed by refreshments. For more information, contact Lynne Schofield, Secretary, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interfaith Wolverhampton is holding its Christmas Bring and Share Lunch on Tuesday 18 December. It will be held from 11am to 1pm at the Darlington Street Methodist Centre in Wolverhampton. For further information, email email@example.com or visit www.ifwton.org.uk.
Sheffield Interfaith is holding a Food and Friendship dinner on Wednesday 19 December from 6pm to 8pm at Shirley House Interfaith Centre, 31 Psalter Lane, S11 8YL. The event is a bring and share dinner. For more information, visit https://sheffieldinterfaith.org.uk/category/events/.
The Centre for Islamic Enlightening is holding a ‘Love Your Neighbour Exhibit’ on Sunday 6 January. The topic will be ‘BESA ‘The Promise’: A Code of Honour. Muslims Who Rescued Jews During the Holocaust’. It is being held from 4pm to 6pm at the Centre for Islamic Enlightening, the Hippodrome, north End Road, Golders Green, London, NW11 7RP. To RSVP, contact Rabbi Natan Levy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 07590 028 823.
The Multifaith Chapel and Library at the Burngreave Ashram is holdings its next inter faith session on Monday 7 January. The theme will be ‘New Year – What Do You Think?’ and the presenter will be John Barnabas. There is a bring and share lunch at 12.30pm followed by the seminar from 1.15pm to 2.30pm. It is being held at Burngreave Ashram, 86 Spital Hill, Sheffield S4 7LG. For further information, contact BAMCL@outlook.com or 0114 272 7144.
York Interfaith Group is holding its Annual General Meeting on Tuesday 8 January. The meeting will be chaired by Daryoush Mazloum. It is being held from 7.30pm to 9pm in the Hudson Room, City of York Council, West Offices, Station Rise, York, YO1 6GA. For more information, email email@example.com or visit www.yorkinterfaith.org.
Westminster Cathedral Interfaith Group is holding its next meeting on Wednesday 16 January. The meeting will be led by Ahmad Achtar, a Muslim scholar, who will be speaking on Mary in the Qu’ran. It is being held from 4pm to 5pm in the Hinsley Room, Morpeth Terrace, SW1P 1EP. For more information, contact John Woodhouse by text on 07908 888 586 or by email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
The All of Us Schools’ Campaign and Women’s Interfaith Network (WIN) are holding a panel on the topic ‘Bringing All of Us Together’ on Tuesday 22 January. It will take place from 5.30pm to 7.30pm at the London Living Room, City Hall, The Queen’s Walk, London SE1 2AA. For further information, contact Ruth Wilkinson at email@example.com or book your ticket at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/bringing-all-of-us-together-building-bridges-tickets-51517715875?aff=ebdssbdestsearch
Leeds Concord Interfaith Fellowship is holding a talk on ‘Brahma Kumari and Sikh Attitudes to Violence’ on Wednesday 23 January. Dr Jane Kay and Dr Jasjit Singh, both of the University of Leeds, will be speaking. It is being held at 7.30pm at the Brahma Kumari Administration Centre, 241 Otley Road, Leeds, LS16 5LQ. For more information, contact John Summerwill on 0113 269 7895 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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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If you have items which you would like considered for inclusion in the next e-bulletin please email these to email@example.com by 18 January with ‘e-bulletin’ in the subject line. Submissions may be edited for length or style.
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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