Finding the facts on faith

Published: Tuesday 4th April 17

More than 70 pupils from seven Wandsworth secondary schools attended this year’s Faith Direct event at the town hall, where they were able to fire a series of quick-fire questions at representatives from the borough’s different faith groups.

The Faith Direct initiative, organised by the council and the Wandsworth Multi-Faith Group, brought together speakers from local Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Sikh, Jewish, Baha’i, Humanist and Buddhist communities.

Faith Direct aims to increase young people’s knowledge of the different faiths and beliefs practised in the borough, promote understanding, tolerance and respect and offer an open forum for dialogue.

It is open to young people in Year 7 or above and this year was attended by deputy mayor Cllr Wendy Speck (pictured below) and chairman of the Standard Advisory Council on Religious Education (SACRE), Cllr Antonia Dunn.

The young people were given a fact pack in advance summarising each belief, and then conducted a whistle-stop tour round the room interviewing each representative in turn. The questioning lasted 15 minutes before a bell was rung and the students moved on to the next table.

After the event, speakers said they enjoyed having the opportunity to challenge stereotypes about their beliefs, and students said the event had added to their knowledge. Teachers also praised the event. One said:

“Faith Direct has really inspired our curriculum, and we currently discuss all religions encountered at Faith Direct within each year group. The experience has enhanced the knowledge of both our teachers and our year 8 students.

“We have been so impressed by the event that we have set up our own 'inter-faith day' with year 9 students, which is structured in a very similar way to 'Faith Direct'. Every year the students love the experience of talking to people with a range of different beliefs.”

Council leader Cllr Ravi Govindia chairs the Multi-Faith Group. He said:

“Now more than ever it is crucial that the different faith communities in our borough work together to defeat hate and division. We have been running the Faith Direct event for several years now, and we believe it helps ensure our young people get the real facts about different faiths and learn to listen to and respect those with beliefs that differ from their own.”

Find out more about the work of the multi-faith group at www.wandsworth.gov.uk/faithgroup.

Notes to Editor:

The faiths were represented by: Mr Sunder Sharma (The Hindu Society); Venerable Phrakru Samu Lom (Buddhapadipa Temple); Dr M Khan (The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community); Sharon Coussins (Wimbledon and District Synagogue), Rev Grocott (Methodist), Tara Chandra (Baha’i), Luke Donnellan (British Humanist Association), Ajaib Singh Bahra (Tooting Sikh Gurdwara)  and Imaam Khubaeb Raja and Maksud Gangat (Balham Mosque and Al-Risalah Education Trust).

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