Press Release - Deep connections: Women’s local inter faith initiatives in the UK
Deep connections: Women’s local inter faith initiatives in the UK has today been published by the Inter Faith Network for the UK (IFN).
This illustrated report, based on research by IFN, looks at a wide range of local inter faith initiatives which are led by women and principally for women. Drawing on information supplied by these grassroots groups, it highlights examples of their activity and explores benefits and challenges. It also includes a compendium of summary information about each group that was surveyed.
IFN’s Executive Director, Harriet Crabtree OBE said:
“This research project shows the richness and value of women’s local inter faith initiatives. As the contributors to this report make clear, these initiatives make a significant contribution to inter faith understanding and cooperation, help women’s voices be heard (sometimes in challenging circumstances), and are spaces where deep personal connections are forged which benefit both the women involved and their wider communities.”
IFN’s Co-Chairs, Canon Hilary Barber and Narendra Waghela said:
“In the context of the report by Colin Bloom Does government ‘do God?’ An independent review into how government engages with faith, published yesterday, the particular contribution that these grassroots women’s initiatives make to religious literacy is significant to note. So, too, is their overall contribution to strengthening ties between different groups and to the wellbeing and cohesion of local communities.”
The report notes 50 such groups in the UK. Some operate in very diverse areas such as the groups in Glasgow, Leeds, Manchester and Wolverhampton; others in areas with more scattered areas of diversity such as Gloucestershire. Some are linked to offshoots of mixed gender local inter faith organisations such as Calderdale Interfaith, Redbridge Faiths Forum in London and Woking People of Faith. A few are connected to a particular faith base, such as ones linked to the Catholic Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle; Community House in Newport; and Christians Aware’s Faith Awareness Programme, based in Leicester. 19 of the groups noted are branches of Nisa-Nashim or groups of the Women’s Interfaith Network.
Among the reasons groups say they have been established are: making friends with women of different backgrounds; seeking understanding of other faiths and to raise awareness of their own; developing skills and confidence in areas such as public speaking and community leadership; helping develop and deepen bonds between local communities; artistic expression; and joint social action on issues from climate change to mental health and violence against women and girls. Their activities are wide-ranging: from dialogue, education, arts and crafts; activism; and celebrating or marking special times such as International Women’s Day; and health and sports activities.
The report includes a ‘top tips’ section to help readers who would like to start a similar group or develop an existing one.
The research was supported through grants and donations towards IFN’s work in the years 2021-22 and 2022-23, including from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, trusts and donors.
- Press queries to Inter Faith Network: tel 020 7730 0410; email firstname.lastname@example.org
- The Inter Faith Network for the UK www.interfaith.org.uk was founded in 1987 to advance public knowledge and mutual understanding of the teachings, traditions and practices of the different faith communities in Britain and to promote good relations between people of different faiths in this country. It works with its member bodies and others to carry out these aims.
- IFN links in membership: national faith community representative bodies; national, regional and local inter faith bodies; and academic institutions and educational bodies concerned with inter faith. Issues.www.interfaith.org.uk/members.
- This research report was initiated 15 years on from one commissioned by the Inter Faith Network from Dr Fatheena Mubarak-Iqbal, Women’s inter faith initiatives in the UK: A survey.
- Information about Nisa-Nashim can be found at https://www.nisanashim.com/ and information about the Women’s Interfaith Network can be found at https://wominet.org.uk/.