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IFN National Meeting 2018 – ‘Young People and Inter Faith Engagement: Making a Difference Together’

Young People and Inter Faith Engagement: Making a Difference Together

IFN’s 2018 National Meeting took place at Derby County Football Club on 4 July. Its theme was ‘Young People and Inter Faith Engagement: Making a Difference Together’.   The meeting focused on young people’s engagement in activities which promote inter faith cooperation and understanding. It was the culmination of a programme of work across 8 months looking at: different ways that young people are taking part in inter faith activities; what the key questions and challenges are in developing this; ideas and perspectives of young people about inter faith activity and how this contributes to a more harmonious and just world; new approaches that could be valuable; and what youth-related strand IFN should consider including in its 2019-2021 Strategic Plan. The meeting also provided the occasion for the launch of the expanded and updated edition of IFN’s youth inter faith action guide, Connect

The day began with a welcome and opening remarks from IFN’s Co-Chairs, The Rt Revd Richard Atkinson OBE and Jatinder Singh Birdi and also a welceome to Derby from Qazi Abdul Mateen, Trustee of the Multi Faith Centre at the University of Derby, and Kiran Singh, PhD Student at the University of Derby. During the plenary session Padideh Sabeti, IFN Trustee, introduced the Connect guide and opened the day with some brief reflections about the importance of faith communities supporting and encouraging youth inter faith engagement.

Parhin Begum, Inter Faith Development Officer, Blackburn with Darwen CVS, Anthony Hamilton, Devon Youth Inter Faith Forum and Jaspreet Singh, President of Birmingham City University Students’ Union, Faith and Belief Forum ParliaMentors Alumnus and member of the British Organisation of Sikh Students talked about the different ways in which they have become involved in inter faith activity and the importance of opportunities to do so.

Frances Hume, Development Officer, Interfaith Scotland, spoke about Interfaith Scotland’s wide-ranging work with young people and offered reflections on supporting and encouraging young peoples’ inter faith engagement in a range of different context. Chan Parmar, Strategic Officer, Bolton Inter Faith Council, and Sanaa Makaan, Bolton Interfaith Youth Ambassadors Forum, offered reflections on the importance of local inter faith bodies working with young people in their areas and creating opportunities for civic engagement and skills development.

The Connect guide was launched by Jaskiran Kaur Mehmi, student and inter faith practitioner and co-facilitator of the Advisory Group that helped develop the Connect guide,  Mike Stygal, IFN Trustee and Advisory Group member and Vice-President, Pagan Federation and Ashley Beck, Inter Faith Development Officer, Inter Faith Network for the UK.

The Revd Canon Dr James Walters, Chaplain and Senior Lecturer in Practice, London School of Economics, and Director, LSE Faith Centre, talked about the key role that Higher and Further Education chaplaincies and faith centres can play in facilitating inter faith engagement on campus and acting as a seedbed for young inter faith bridge builders and leaders.  Reflections on the themes of the day were offered in the afternoon by Marie van der Zyl, President, Board of Deputies of British Jews and IFN Trustee; Tarang Shelat, Hindu Forum of Britain and Birmingham Council of Faiths; Natasha Raspudic, King’s College London and IFN volunteer; and Sami Bryant, Cardiff University, Youth Ambassador Eco-Islam and Muslim Council of Wales. 

Discussion groups were held on: ‘Young people and dialogue, including about difficult issues’, with a presentation from Paraskevi Koumi, Programmes Officer, Schools, Faith and Belief Forum; ‘Youth inter faith social action’, with a presentation from Nikhwat Marawat, ‘Delicate Mind’ and Faith and Belief Forum ParliaMentors Alumnus; ‘Youth inter faith engagement through cultural and sporting activity’, with a presentation from Afrasiab Anwar, Building Bridges in Burnley; ‘Youth inter faith engagement on campus’, with a presentation by Ayad Marhoon, Leeds University Ahlul Bayt Society and LUU Interfaith Society read by Katherine Crew, Campus Interfaith Leadership Manage, Council of Christians and Jews (CCJ), who also gave a presentation with Ross Britain, CCJ; ‘Inter faith learning and engagement in schools’, with a presentation by Nawal Rasool, Chair, and Fatima Khatun, Committee member, Newham Student SACRE; ‘Youth civic engagement with an inter faith dimension’, with a presentation by Becky Brookman, NCS Programme Manager, Jewish Lads and Girls Brigade; and ‘Developing a youth dimension to existing inter faith programmes’, with a presentation by Riaz Ravat, Deputy Director, St Philip’s Centre.  The following facilitated and served as rapporteurs: Nahal Namvari, student, Cardiff University; Sister Margaret Shepherd nds, Sion Centre for Dialogue and Encounter and Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales; Jules Irenge, Young Friends General Meeting; Zac Lloyd, Project Assistant, Inter Faith Network for the UK; Neil Pitchford, Druid Network; Nudrat Mughal, the Action Factory and Minister David Hopkins, Spiritualists’ National Union; Trip Pannu, Windsor and Maidenhead Community Forum; Katharine Crew, Campus Interfaith Leadership Manager, Council of Christians and Jews; Professor Paul Weller, Inter Faith Working Group of the Baptist Union of Great Britain; David Hampshire, Assistant Director, Inter Faith Network for the UK; Aparna Ramesh, Volunteer, Hindu Temple of Scotland, Glasgow and Interfaith Scotland; The Revd James Breslin, Newcastle Council of Faiths and United Reformed Church; Usman Ali, Wakefield Interfaith Network and Wakefield City Youth and Community Forum; Ervad Yazad Bhadha, Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe and Youth Representative, Harrow Interfaith; and Nishika Senaviratne, London Buddhist Vihara/Sri Lankan Sangha Sabha.

A full report will be produced in due course.

Reports on National Meetings from previous years can be found at