Breaking down barriers around faith

Published: Tuesday 20th November 18

Children from Wandsworth secondary schools have been on a whistle-stop tour of the borough’s different faiths at the annual Faith Direct event.

Hamza chats with Jon Fayle from Humanists UK

The students from year 7 and above attended this year’s event at 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, was held during Interfaith Week. It brought together speakers from local Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Jewish, Baha’i, Humanist and Buddhist communities.

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

The young people were able to speak to each representative in turn for 15 minutes. The questioning lasted 15 minutes before a bell was rung and the students moved on to the next table. All those attending received a fact pack in advance summarising the main characteristics of the different beliefs.

All the faith leaders with the Mayor of Wandsworth, Piers McCausland

13-year-old Hamza, who attends Ernest Bevin School, said he had enjoyed the event: “We’ve learnt different religious views, some that connect and some that are in opposition to each other. We’ve learnt that there are many manifestations of Christianity and many forms of Islam.

“People should learn to share empathy and happiness and work together instead of arguing.”

The Wandsworth Council Multi-Faith Group was set up following discussions with faith representatives in Wandsworth in 2001 after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It provides a forum to discuss local issues and quickly resolve any potential concerns and is part of the council’s ongoing work to work closely with different communities within Wandsworth to promote tolerance and keep people safe.

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The council has signed a declaration against hate crime in all its forms and helps provide protection and support for victims.

The Leader of the council and chairman of the Multi-Faith Group Cllr Ravi Govindia said: “Now more than ever it’s important that we all work hard to understand each other and respect each others’ beliefs.

“Faith Direct is always a popular and successful event which we have been running for several years, and we know educating our young people about the different religions flourishing in our borough helps break down barriers and promote tolerance.

“We will continue to work with our colleagues on the Multi-Faith group to keep Wandsworth a peaceful and safe place to live.”

Notes to Editor:

  • The schools that attended were:
  • Ashcroft Academy
  • Burntwood School
  • Ernest Bevin College
  • Harris Academy
  • Graveney School
  • Saint Cecilia’s School
  • St John Bosco College

The faith group representatives were:

  • Shanta Chellappoo, Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Wandsworth
  • Sharron Cousins, Wimbledon & District Synagogue
  • Archdeacon John Kiddle, Church of England Wandsworth
  • Bishop Noel McLean, Yahweh Christian Fellowship
  • Venerable monk, Buddhapadipa Temple and Mrs Kamontip Evans
  • Imaam Mr Khubaeb Raja and Arshad Daud, Balham Mosque
  • Dr Mujib Khan and Mahmood Khan, London Mosque
  • Ajaib Singh Bahra, Khalsa Centre Gurdwara
  • Jon Fayle, Humanists UK

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Recent comments

There is a large Hindu community in Wandsworth ... why is it not represented? This Forum is good but it should also be remembered that by law children should be learning about different faiths in RE in schools!
Carol Tibbs

24 November 2018