Youth inter faith engagement
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 remained one of IFN’s most-downloaded publications. In 2018, an updated and expanded edition was produced, called Connect: a youth inter faith action guide. It was developed over the course of a year with the help of an Advisory Group, and the views of young people and those working with them were gathered through a survey and focus groups.
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. There are also an increasing number of youth-led inter faith initiatives.
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 and Further Education institutions. An increasing number of universities also have student-led inter faith societies. The majority of universities and many FE colleges have a chaplaincy service run on a multi-faith basis, and many of these also run programmes to encourage inter faith activity. National bodies that link student faith-based societies also increasingly provide information, support and resources for inter faith engagement.
- If you are active in a faith community or belief group, find out more about their programmes for young people. Many national faith/ belief bodies 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, such as Barnet Multi Faith Youth Network and Devon Inter Faith Forum for Youth. Others also sometimes run youth-focused activities, including as part of Inter Faith Week. Find your local inter faith group at www.interfaith.org.uk/locator
- Offer to volunteer for a national inter faith organisation and explore internship opportunities if you want to go even further. IFN lists job and volunteering opportunities of itself and its member bodies at https://www.interfaith.org.uk/involved/vacancies/jobs and https://www.interfaith.org.uk/involved/vacancies/volunteering
- If you are at school, ask your teachers about inter faith activity. Many educational environments are very diverse and reflect something of the richness and vibrancy of the UK’s faith and belief landscape. RE teachers are often a good place to start. You could also see if there is an opportunity to start an inter faith group or youth SACRE 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
- If you live in Scotland, contact Interfaith Scotland, which carries out programmes with children and young people within various age ranges. https://interfaithscotland.org/resources/youth-and-schools
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:
- The Faith and Belief Forum runs a number of different programmes for young people, including within schools and universities, as well as through opportunities such as its award winning ‘Parliamentors’ programme. https://faithbeliefforum.org/
- The Council of Christians and Jews runs a Campus Leadership programme at various universities in the UK each year. http://www.ccj.org.uk/our-work/campus-leadership/
- Religions for Peace UK has a youth-led ‘UK Interfaith Youth Network’. https://www.rfpuk.org/ukiyn
- The St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace runs various programmes, some of which are targeted at young adults. https://stethelburgas.org/
- The Faiths United Youth Network brings together young people from a wide range of faith and belief backgrounds. https://www.faithsunitedyn.org/
- The Feast is an organisation that aims to bring together teenagers and young people of different faiths to build friendships and strengthen relations. It began in Birmingham and now runs programmes in some other cities in England http://thefeast.org.uk
- The National Citizens Service (NCS) provides opportunities for inter faith engagement through its programmes. Go to www.ncsyes.co.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