In February a small but lively and engaged group of representatives from different faith communities converged at Brighton Salvation Army for a workshop delivered by leading interfaith charity The Faith & Belief Forum. The purpose of the workshop was to prepare prospective panellists for a School Assembly Faith Tour as part of the education development element of the Combatting Faith Hate Partnership.
Representatives of Jewish, Muslim, Anglican, Catholic and Coptic faith groups formed the Combating Faith Hate Partnership to tackle hate crimes related to religion in the city in April 2019. The Partnership is funded by a grant from the City Council and aims to engage with schools, colleges and universities on the importance of religious tolerance and mutual respect, and organise tours for people to visit mosques, synagogues or churches in the city to dispel any myths around different faiths.
“Children and Young people will engage with a panel of faith leaders at their place of education who present their views of religious tolerance and mutual respect. The panel will consist of leaders of local faith communities, namely Muslim, Jewish, Catholic, Anglican and Coptic faith groups. They will discuss religious tolerance and participate in Q&A. This will create a positive impact as children and young people will see why and how people of different faiths can tolerate and mutually respect one another. We expect this will lead to children attaining a keen awareness of religious tolerance.”TSIP Funding
Working with the Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education (SACRE) the Partnership is developing a School Assembly Faith Tour to visit secondary schools in the city at the end of April and through May. Panellists are recruited from the partnerships faith groups and are being prepared for the experience by The Faith & Belief Forum who have considerable experience working in the field of interfaith and schools.
The workshop explored the use of personal stories and experiences to inform and educate young people about different faiths and beliefs in “real life” instead of from textbooks or media sources. The panellists explored ways to explain how different people practice their faith or belief. How faiths and beliefs affect people’s daily lives and help young people see connections with their own lives and those of people of different faiths/beliefs. Most importantly the panellists explored how to create a “safe space” to enable students to ask difficult questions and how those questions might be fielded between the panellists and appropriate ways to respond to awkward questions.
Panellists were asked to prepare a 5-7 minute informal sharing or “story” to explain their beliefs and practices in relation to their everyday life and experiences. These were then presented to the group and feedback given both by facilitators and fellow panellists.
All who attended the event commented how useful it was in developing their approach and perspective to the task and how interesting it was and a useful way to get to know each other through the sharing of personal faith stories and experiences.