Local authorities and other public agencies
Inter Faith Week provides a particularly good platform for local authorities and other public agencies to work in partnership with local faith communities and inter faith bodies.
Inter Faith Week provides a particularly good platform for local authorities and other public agencies to work in partnership with local faith communities and inter faith bodies to highlight the contribution of these to their local areas and strengthen mutually helpful links which are an important part of communities.
The Week saw a host of events and activities held by and with local authorities, hospitals, police services and fire and rescue services among others.
These included visits to local places of worship, community events such as shared meals, civic receptions, debates and panel discussions.
Examples of events held by local authorities and other public agencies included:
- An address to students at Witchford Village College, Cambridgeshire, by a Station Commander serving with Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service as part of the East Cambridgeshire Community Safety Partnership. The visit encouraged pupils to tackle extremism and celebrate diversity and looked at a range of related issues.
- The ‘Window on World Faiths’ day in Carmarthen, Wales, organised by Dyfed-Powys Police. The day explored the diversity of faiths in the local area and allowed members of the public and the police to learn from one another, as well as discuss issues that affect the local community.
- A breakfast seminar for Middlesbrough Council officers and Executive Councillors held by the Middlesbrough Interfaith Network and the Bishop of Whitby. This introductory session launched a series of events aimed at bringing together elected officials and faith communities in roundtable conversations to discuss issues of mutual interest and common concern.
- An inter faith event held by Barnsley Council at Barnsley Town Hall in support of new residents of the town, including asylum seekers, migrants and refugees. The event featured dialogue and discussion as well as performances from members of the National Orchestra of Syria and Damon Albarn’s African Express.
- A social action project led by staff and councillors from Leicester City Council’s Christian Fellowship and Muslim Support Group working jointly as the ‘Interfaith Task Force’, which included volunteering at two community projects. The event included a ‘river clean-up’ at the Outdoor Pursuits Centre and volunteering at the Vineyard Church Storehouse food and furniture bank. These activities demonstrated how colleagues from different faiths and backgrounds can work together to improve the environment.
- The ‘Yours Faithfully Religious and Cultural Diversity Workshop’ at the Bawnacre Centre, Irvinestown, Northern Ireland, organised by Fermanagh and Omagh District Council. This free half-day workshop offered practical training and support in religious and cultural diversity, and with the aim of building greater awareness and understanding.
- A ‘Have Faith in Community’ gathering in Bicester organised by Cherwell District Council. The event was attended by members of local faith communities, representatives of local charities, the police and health services. There were opportunities for networking, as well as dialogue and discussion.
- A ‘Human Library’ Inter Faith Week event at the Lancashire Police Constabulary Headquarters, Preston, organised by the Lancashire Police Chaplaincy. Members of staff had the opportunity to learn from each other about their faiths and beliefs.
- A range of visits by Surrey police to places of worship across the county. Police officers and staff visited Weybridge Synagogue, Guildford Cathedral, the Buddhist What Phra Dhammakaya, the Baitul Futuh Mosque and the Shah Jahan Mosque on consecutive days during Inter Faith Week to celebrate diversity and strengthen links with the local community.
- A ‘Faith and Politics’ debate at Camden Town Hall organised by Camden Council. The Council invited local residents, students and community organisations in the borough to take part in an open discussion on the theme to mark Inter Faith Week. A panel of expert speakers addressed the audience, and contributions were also heard from members of the public.
- A series of lunchtime talks, starting with ‘Understanding Islam’ during Inter Faith Week, at New County Hall, Truro, Cornwall, organised jointly by Cornwall Faith Forum and Cornwall Council. The talks provided staff and members of the public with an opportunity to increase their religious literacy and to engage in dialogue and discussion.
- A celebration of Inter Faith Week at Airedale Hospital, West Yorkshire, run by the Hospital Chaplaincy.
To see how local authorities and public agencies in Scotland marked Scottish Interfaith Week, visit http://www.interfaithscotland.org/scottish-interfaith-week/.
Published 18 January 2017