Finding the facts on faith

Published: 19 March 2014

More than 80 pupils from Wandsworth secondary schools attended a unique town hall ‘speed-dating’ event 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 was organised by the council and Wandsworth Multi Faith-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 speakers being questioned included: Sunder Sharma (The Hindu Society); Venerable Phrakru Samu Lom (Buddhapadipa Temple); Rev McKinney (Holy Trinity Parish Church), Zan Khan and Fareed Ul Haq (The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community); Rabbi Hammond (Wimbledon and District Synagogue), Rev S. Rouse (Balham Baptist Church) Shanta Chellappoo and Naz Knight (Baha’i), Sara Passmore (British Humanist Association) and Imam Gangat (Balham Mosque and Al-Risalah Education Trust).

The Mayor of Wandsworth, Cllr Angela Graham, who opened the event said:

“Wandsworth is a modern and diverse borough which is home to many communities.  This unique event set out to improve young people’s understanding of different faiths and beliefs.

“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.