Inter Faith Week 2018
Press Release - Inter Faith Week 2018 began on 11 November and drew to a close on Sunday 18 November.
Inter Faith Week 2018 began on 11 November and drew to a close on Sunday 18 November. Over 500 activities are known to have taken place across the UK with the final figure expected to be higher.
The Co-Chairs of the Inter Faith Network for the UK, which leads on the Week, said:
"Inter Faith Week 2018 has been an enormously energetic and positive Week. There have been hundreds of events involving thousands of people of different backgrounds, young and old.
It has been wonderful to see faith communities leading in activities in many areas and first time participants from primary schools through to major national employers entering into the annual opportunity to deepen understanding, respect and cooperation.”
The Week begins each year on Remembrance Sunday to enable people of different backgrounds to remember together the service of soldiers and civilians of all faiths and beliefs and to reflect on peace. This year, Remembrance Sunday was also the centenary of Armistice Day, which brought an additional dimension.
Churches, gurdwaras, mandirs, synagogues, mosques, temples, viharas, schools, sports grounds, parks, council chambers, museums and galleries, libraries, community centres, hospitals and hospices, concourses of major rail stations - just a few of the places that events were held. There were practical projects such as tree planting by groups of different faiths and collections for those in need, discussions and dialogues, arts and cultural events, and much more. Tough issues were tackled, as well as commonalities and friendship celebrated.
In the course of the Week, the Government’s Minister for Faith, Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, launched his report ‘Belief in communities: bridging the divide.’ The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, the Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP attended, as the local MP, the London Borough of Bexley’s Faith in the Community Awards.
Wales saw a special event supported by the Welsh Government and arranged by the Inter-faith Council for Wales, ‘Walking alongside our Communities’ with Welsh Government Minister Julie James AM. In Belfast, Inter Faith Week was marked with a reception for the Northern Ireland Inter Faith Forum at City Hall.
National inter faith initiatives and local inter faith groups have been showcased through the Week, organising dialogues, workshops, concerts, festivals, fairs, exhibitions, faith trails and many other kinds of activity. Remembrance events of many kinds were part of this, such as at Dor Kemmyn Field near Truro.
National faith communities played a key role in the Week. Some held events linked to both the Week and #Armistice100, for example the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha which held an event at Neasden Temple in London, honouring the contribution of Indian and Commonwealth soldiers in World War 1. Others, such as the Muslim Council of Britain, held discussion events or, like the Baptist Union of Great Britain, used the Week to launch new resources. Faith leaders also contributed to other events, for example, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis at the Inter Faith Week event of the Indian Jewish Association.
The Week saw participation from a growing number of companies and employers, such as Network Rail and the UK Civil Service, and was also the platform for awareness-raising by bodies such as NHS Blood and Transplant and a number of National Health Trusts. Fire and Rescue Services and Police joined in many local events.
In schools such as Gorsey Bank primary in Wilmslow and Polam Hall School Darlington, pupils have used the Week as an opportunity to learn about other traditions, as well as to celebrate the diversity of their communities and those who live and worship in them.
In colleges and universities, students ran activities from sport, health and exercise sessions to ‘speed faithing’, quizzes and competitions to acts of service and charitable collections. They have been supported and encouraged in doing so by the NUS, by chaplaincies and faith centres, by national faith-based student bodies, and by national inter faith organisations. Youth engagement, more generally, in the Week has been high. The Faith and Belief Forum’s Interfaith Summit brought together many young people to discuss key issues and young people also played a significant role in events in areas such as Bolton as well as through youth bodies like the Girls Brigade and Scouts.
Local authorities in a number of areas have played a key role with some supporting and encouraging extensive programmes, for example a cross-Kent Open Door series arranged by Kent County Council, or supporting particular events such as Middlesbrough City of Kindness.
Full week programmes were held in several places such as Birmingham, Bolton, Kirklees, Leicester, Preston and York as well as a number of campuses such as University of Leeds.
The Near Neighbours and Presence and Engagement programmes of the Church of England have played an active support role in many areas and grants from the Inter Faith Youth Trust have enabled a number of special youth events.
There was a social action focus to a number of events such as Brighton and Hove Faith in Action and Brighton and Hove City Council’s event celebrating social welfare and community development projects delivered by the city’s faith communities.
Inter Faith Week concluded with the social action focused Mitzvah Day, with which it has a strong link. This is a special Jewish-led day of service focussed on bringing communities together in ‘acts of loving kindness’. Many of these were run on an inter faith basis, including the ‘chicken soup challenge’ in which Jews and Muslims cooked over 1,000 portions of soup together at the East London Mosque before distributing these to those in need in the local community.
Scottish Interfaith Week
Scottish Interfaith Week also took place between 11-18 November, and its theme this year was ‘Connecting Generations’. Further information about the many activities that took place to mark it can be found at www.scottishinterfaithweek.org or by contacting Interfaith Scotland, which leads on the Week.
NOTES FOR EDITORS:
- The Inter Faith Week website carries information about events and about the Week more generally. www.interfaithweek.org
- Photographs available on request.
- Inter Faith Week is a programme of the Inter Faith Network for the UK, a charity which has been working since 1987 to promote mutual respect and understanding between the faith communities of the UK. It works with the Northern Ireland Inter-Faith Forum and the Inter-faith Council for Wales/ Cyngor Rhyng-ffydd Cymru in relation to the Week in those nations.
- The aims of the Week are to strengthen good inter faith relations at all levels; increase awareness of the different and distinct faith communities in the UK, in particular celebrating and building on the contribution which their members make to their neighbourhoods and to wider society; and increase understanding between people of religious and non-religious beliefs.
- The report of Lord Bourne can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/faith-minister-calls-on-religious-communities-to-bridge-divides
- The work of IFN is supported by faith communities, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, Trusts and other donors.
- Inter Faith Week has its own Twitter account www.twitter.com/IFWeek and Facebook page www.facebook.com/IFWeek and is on Instagram at www.instagram.com/IFWeek
- Social media users are encouraged to use the hashtag #InterFaithWeek in tweets and posts about the Week, as well as to post photos, quotes and ideas linked to the Week.
- Inter Faith Week was established in England and Wales in 2009, and in Northern Ireland in 2010.
- Scottish Interfaith Week has taken place since 2004 and is led by Interfaith Scotland (www.interfaithscotland.org). It has its own dedicated website at www.scottishinterfaithweek.org. The dates of the Week are the same.
- The Royal British Legion campaign: https://www.britishlegion.org.uk/remembrance/ww1-centenary/thank-you/