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Inter Faith Buddies

Inter Faith Buddies is a scheme designed to bring individuals together to engage in dialogue. The material on this page is designed to be used by organisations, adapting it as necessary to suit their own contexts.

The scheme involves two people of different faiths or of a particular faith and of a non-religious belief:

  • keeping in touch on a weekly basis for 3-6 weeks;
  • choosing or developing questions on which to share their thoughts and experiences; and
  • if they wish, sharing at an in-person or online event, in an agreed way, some reflections on what they have gained from the experience.

Some questions for possible exploration:

  • How does your faith or non-religious belief shape your daily life?
  • What, in your faith or non-religious belief, encourages service to others in society?
  • How does your faith or non-religious belief shape your approach to particular issues such as:
    • Social justice
    • The environment
    • Care for others
    • Education

This is an opportunity for sharing and learning, on a one-to-one basis across a limited period of time, about what is important to us, in the context of our wider community. The process may, of course, lead to longer term conversations and new forms of practical co-operation.

Interested in taking up the idea within your organisation?

If you are an organisation interested in taking up the Inter Faith Buddies idea, your organisation could designate a person to: 

  • Share with your members:
  • Invite interested members to be in touch, asking them if there is any particular faith or belief background or backgrounds from which they would be interested to have an ‘Inter Faith Buddy’ and securing their permission to share a contact email address or phone number with someone who would also like to be a ‘buddy’.
  • Put people who have expressed interest in touch with one another. 
  • Act as a point of contact if any queries or concerns arise in the course of the dialogue.

You may also wish to arrange an opportunity for feedback by participants – eg an online or in person Zoom meeting or blog section on your website.

If your organisation is a national faith community representative body you may wish to join with a similar body of a different religious community to take part.

If you are a staff faith and belief network in a company or in the voluntary sector we will be happy to discuss with you how you might adapt the scheme.

Inter Faith Buddies: some practical pointers for participants

Getting Started

  • Agree your expectations, for example about frequency, medium and duration of contact  (you can always agree to change that later), respectful engagement, what you hope to gain from the exchange, etc.
  • Set any boundaries of what you are happy to discuss (for example, some might wish not to discuss events in other countries).
  • Be realistic about what kinds of questions and responses will work within the format.
  • Take a few minutes to go through together Building Good Relations with People of Different Faiths and Beliefs and to agree these or other ground rules that you wish to have.
  • Agree that your exchange will be private to you, except what you both agree to share at the end of the process.
  • Begin by sharing a little about yourselves and asking a question of each other.
  • Bear in mind that there are times when faith festivals may have some impact on people’s ability to reply to each other swiftly.

Sharing what you have learned

  • Agree together what you might like to share with others about your conversations: what you have learned from these and what points for others might have emerged from them.
  • Agree how you will share these thoughts – it may be that you are part of a local inter faith body, for example, and they would like to feature some of your reflections as part on an online discussion or event during, for example, Inter Faith Week.
  • If you would like to share on social media that you are taking part, please use the hashtag #InterFaithBuddies and tag @ifnetuk on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Safeguarding and safety

  • Safeguarding is very important. Buddies should be over the age of 18 years and commit to engage in respectful listening and dialogue. They should also respect the privacy and security of other buddies and their families.
  • There are many different ways that you could choose to engage, for example, telephone, email, letter, or virtual chats using Zoom, Skype, Messenger, Hangouts, Teams, WhatsApp, Facetime or your other platform of choice.  Whichever platform you choose, it is important that people feel safe and keep themselves safe. All major platform providers give safety and security advice and it is worth having a look at that before you begin.
  • Do not share your phone number, WhatsApp, address, email, social media profiles etc unless you are both comfortable with doing so.
  • Do not share anyone else's phone number (including WhatsApp, WeChat, etc), address, email, social media profiles or any other form of personally identifiable information.

Dialogue tips

For tips on inter faith dialogue, and the different forms it can take, you might like to take a look at IFN’s Let’s Talk: practical pointers for inter faith dialogue resource, which is freely available online:

Questions or concerns

If you are participating in a Buddies scheme organised by an organisation – such as your workplace, school, or faith community – you should have been given a contact person who can respond to questions or concerns.