This is a guest post by Louise Churchus, Tower Hamlet’s Senior Youth Worker for XLP.
A group of young people? Check. Different faiths? Check. A love of Nando’s? Check (obviously!)
On 25 May 2016, Dumaeza and I took a group of girls from Raines Foundation School out for a meal, great interfaith discussions and what turned into an embarrassing photo shoot for me (!). As a youth worker in Tower Hamlets I was super excited for the event as there’s such a mix of faiths in the borough, but interfaith discussions sadly don’t always happen. The Feast event was a great relaxed space for the girls to get involved with this.
After eating some classic Nando’s chicken, and consuming insane amounts of refillable fizzy drink to combat the extra hot sauce on the food, it was a real joy to see the girls sharing their own beliefs and thoughts together. I remember as a teenager the times I developed my worldview most was when I had to explain them to others and it was so encouraging that these girls had a safe space to do that. The diversity in beliefs in our small group was wonderful too- from Sikhism, spiritualism, Islam and Orthodox Christianity there we so many worldviews round one table. Not only were they learning more about other beliefs, but also reflecting on why they held their own. I absolutely loved seeing them engage with each other’s responses to the questions they were answering. The questions included things like ‘Does your faith/belief/worldview fit with science?’ and ‘What does your home country do to help refugees from unsafe places?’ which were really thought provoking, and the girls themselves had more and more questions for each other about what they believed and why they believed it. The genuine interest was so encouraging, and there was no judgment or looking down on people at all. My favourite questions though was ‘What’s your favourite part of your faith/belief/worldview?’. Watching the girls take pride in their own faiths, in a culture that so often doesn’t encourage that, was so amazing. I really hope they continue to develop a love for believing what they do, and learn to appreciate that in other young people too.