Short report on Inter Faith Week 2020
Inter Faith Week took place from Sunday 8 to Sunday 15 November. Despite the challenges of COVID, well over 600 events took place and the social media reach was significantly higher.
Inter Faith Week took place from Sunday 8 to Sunday 15 November. Despite the challenges of COVID, well over 600 events took place; the social media reach was significantly higher; the number and breadth of types of organisation messaging about the Week increased; digital forms of engagement enabled wider participation, and schools continued to embrace the Week with enthusiasm and creativity. Some towns and cities such as Birmingham, Kendal, Kirklees, Preston, Swansea, Swindon and York saw wide-ranging programmes of activities throughout the week. In-person activities took place in schools, colleges, universities, hospitals, hospices and other settings that remained open during lockdown/ tiered restrictions. The Week was,
however, as anticipated, a predominantly virtual one.
Inter Faith Week messages from faith leaders and Government
Following discussion by the Faith Communities’ Forum, faith community leaders/ bodies were invited to put out messages and reflections linked to the Week. A significant number of IFN member faith community body leaders did so, as did the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Chief Rabbi and the leaders of the Reform, and Masorti movements of Judaism which further strengthened the Week’s online reach and contributed to the positive online ‘buzz’. The reflections/ messages can be seen at https://www.interfaithweek.org/news/reflections-from-faith-communities. Messages of support were issued from the UK Government’s Faith Minister; the Deputy Minister in the Welsh Government; the Mayors of London and the West Midlands; as well as numerous MPs, other mayors and councillors. The First Minister of Scotland released a special video message for Scottish Interfaith Week.
IFN youth inter faith roundtable
IFN’s main role in Inter Faith Week is supporting activities of others. It also this year held a by invitation Zoom meeting on 9 November for a number of youth inter faith initiatives to talk about their work and discuss the significance of youth inter faith engagement for the future of the UK. The focus of this significant discussion was on activities involving, and in some cases run by, young people in approximately the 16-25 age range.
Inter Faith Week Buddies
IFN also instigated an ‘Inter Faith Week Buddies’ scheme. This involved two people of different faiths or of a particular faith and of a non-religious belief keeping in touch on a regular basis in the weeks leading up to Inter Faith Week; choosing or developing questions on which to share their thoughts and experiences; and during Inter Faith Week, sharing online or at a socially distanced event, in an agreed way, some reflections on what they had gained from this. A number of organisations took this up, such as Cornwall Faith Forum which said in its latest newsletter: "Everyone said that they learned a lot and really appreciated the rare opportunity to ask personal questions in a safe environment." https://dorkemmyn.org.uk/feedback-from-interfaith-week-2020/
Feedback on the Week
A feedback survey was sent to event organisers and put on the website and social media. An interesting fact emerging from responses was the high number of respondents who indicated that they were likely to incorporate an online element into future activities (eg through live streaming in-person events) due to their positive experience this year.
Published 17 May 2021