Youth inter faith engagement
Inter faith dialogue, activity and social action will become increasingly important as the UK’s faith communities continue to diversify. Young people are an important part of creating and sustaining this vital work.
In 2004, the Inter Faith Network for the UK produced Connect: Different faiths, shared values – a short guide for young people about inter faith engagement. This resource was one of the first of its kind aimed specifically at young people, and continues to be one of IFN’s most-downloaded publications.
10 years later, the Inter Faith Network for the UK held a special day event about young people’s involvement in inter faith activity: ‘Young Voices, Young Agents for Change’. The event brought together a wide range of the practitioners now carrying out this kind of work. It opened the door to further cooperative working that has benefited inter faith dialogue between young people up and down the country. The day showed just how much interest there is among young people for the development of good inter faith relations and also displayed the enthusiasm of those in a range of organisations and inter faith bodies for working with them. From the event came a dedicated youth inter faith microsite, which contains videos, online resources, and organisation contacts. The site can be found at youth.interfaith.org.uk.
There are currently a number of ways that young people are becoming involved in inter faith initiatives, such as through inter faith organisations, Religious Education in schools, youth organisations and through Higher and Further Education student union societies and chaplaincy services.
If you are a young person wanting to get involved, or further involved, in inter faith activity and dialogue, here are some suggestions:
- If you are at college or university, contact your student union or chaplaincy service. The National Union of Students works with Students’ Unions, many of which encourage inter faith engagement, and supports the diverse needs of the different faith communities at Higher Education institutions. Chaplaincies and faith and belief societies, often linked to students unions, are also often at the forefront of inter faith engagement on campus
- If you are active in a faith community, find out more about their programmes for young people. Many national faith communities will have programmes and activities dedicated to young people, and these may have an inter faith dimension
- Contact your local inter faith group. There are local inter faith groups up and down the UK: they bring together people for inter faith learning and cooperation. Some have dedicated youth programmes that are actively engaging young people in inter faith dialogue and activity. Find your local inter faith group at www.interfaith.org.uk/locator
- Offer to volunteer for a local or national inter faith organisation and explore internships if you want to go even further
- If you are at school ask your teachers about inter faith activity. Many educational environments are very diverse and display something of the richness and vibrancy of the UK’s faith communities. RE teachers are often a good place to start. You could also see if there is an opportunity to start an inter faith group at your school
- Get involved in inter faith activity through other youth organisations you are involved with, such as the Scouts or Girlguiding
- Get involved in Inter Faith Week (www.interfaithweek.org), Mitzvah Day (mitzvahday.org.uk), Sadaqa Day (www.mysadaqaday.org) or Sewa Day (www.sewaday.org/), which all provide opportunities for bringing young people from different faiths together
- Talk with the Inter Faith Network office about other possible opportunities, where someone will be happy to help
The Inter Faith Network’s National and Regional member bodies, and other organisations run a number of programmes for young people, some of which are listed below:
- 3FF runs the UN Award-Winning ‘Parliamentors’ programme, which brings together young people from different faith backgrounds to develop leadership skills and build bridges. Go to www.3ff.org.uk/parliamentors/ to find out more
- Interfaith Scotland provides opportunities for young people to talk about their faith in schools, along with numerous other events, projects and activities. Go to www.interfaithscotland.org/our-activities/young-people/ to find out more. For opportunities in Northern Ireland and Wales, contact firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, respectively
- The ‘Near Neighbours’ programme of the Church Urban Fund runs a project called ‘Catalyst’, which aims to teach young people of all faiths leadership skills, develop confidence, and further community relations. Go to www.cuf.org.uk/catalyst to find out more
- The Feast is an organisation that aims to bring together teenagers and young people of different faiths to build friendships and strengthen relations. Go to http://thefeast.org.uk to find out more
- The National Citizens Service (NCS) provides opportunities for inter faith engagement through its programmes. Go to www.ncsyes.co.uk to find out more
- Religions for Peace UK provides a range of opportunities for youth inter faith engagement. Go to www.religionsforpeace.org.uk to find out more
- The Inter Faith Youth Trust funds inter faith projects for young people in the UK. Go to www.ifyouthtrust.org.uk to find out more
For more information on other organisations that run inter faith programmes for (and involving) young people, please visit: