Finding the facts on faith

Published: Wednesday 30th November 11

More than 80 pupils from Wandsworth secondary schools attended this year’s Faith Direct ‘speed-dating’ event at the town hall.

Faith Direct 2011Students were able to fire a series of quick-fire questions at representatives from the borough's different faith groups.

The Faith Direct initiative was organised by the council and Wandsworth Local Strategic Partnership Faith-Sub-group and brought together speakers from local Muslim, Christian, Hindu, 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.

The young people 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.

The different faiths were represented by Sunder Sharma from The Hindu Society,  Venerable Phrakru Samu Lom from Buddhapadipa Temple (pictured), Rev McKinney of Holy Trinity Parish Church, Farooq Mirza and Naseer Khan of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Diane Barnett representing the Wimbledon and District Synagogue, Pastor Noel McLean from the Yahweh Christian Fellowship, Jessica Foroughian and Mr Cosma Gottardi of the Baha'i faith, Sara Passmore of the British Humanist Association, Imam Gangat from Balham Mosque and the Al-Risalah Education Trust and interfaith youth worker Andy Pring.

Council leader Cllr Ravi Govindia, who opened the event said:

"Wandsworth is a modern and diverse borough which is home to many communities. Our residents tell us they get on well with each other - a recent survey showed that 86 per cent agree that their neighbourhood is a place where people from different backgrounds get on well together. This unique event set out to improve young people's understanding of different faiths and beliefs and ensure this harmony continues into the next generation.

"The students pulled no punches with their questions. They asked probing questions about the differences between different beliefs and the significance of having a belief"

The event was open to young people in Year 7 or above. All those attending received a fact pack in advance summarising the main characteristics of the different beliefs.

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

Find out more about the work of the multi-faith group at


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