Tower Hamlets in Oaklands School

Following the success of 2022, The Feast in Tower Hamlets was delighted to be invited back to Oaklands Secondary School by the Head of RE, Mr Rodney Cobden. On this occasion, we were asked to lead the Wellness & Developing Identity Programme with the Year 9 cohort, comprising of 180 pupils, across 6 teaching groups. The programme focused on personal development, well-being, and helping young people to live well in an increasingly diverse and divided world. The programme engaged the students in a variety of workshops, videos, challenges, and interfaith and intercultural dialogue, culminating in a presentation by groups to peers in the organisation of a community interfaith event. Throughout, the lessons were underpinned by The Feast Guidelines for Dialogue which encourage participants to respectfully contribute by sharing their stories and worldview. It was a privilege to spend time with young people from diverse backgrounds and experiences, as well as witness them engaging in varied activities.

We were very ably supported by staff at Oaklands, several of The Feast volunteers, and a number of corporate volunteers organised by the Merchant Taylors’ Foundation. The volunteers represented numerous professional industries, and each contributed their individual expertise during the lessons.

We're so grateful for some of the feedback from the staff and volunteers with us.

“I was encouraged to observe two boys who self-identified as Muslim and Catholic discussing faith practices and asking questions of me about my faith. They acknowledged that they have had few opportunities to talk about this in informal settings.” Mark Hutchings

“I joined Rukshana, manager of The Merchant Taylors’ Foundation The Feast Hub, and another volunteer to present the final of three sessions on interfaith to a year 9 class at Oaklands Secondary School in Tower Hamlets. Rukshana did a fantastic job leading the session, giving us a full briefing of the lesson plan and what to expect beforehand, as well as managing behaviour and engagement in the room while we were at the school. It was really rewarding talking to the students and helping them to complete the lesson, and to get them thinking about the core values of The Feast. A highlight of the lesson placed students into groups to develop a plan for an interfaith event of their own design, which they then presented to their peers. I heard about the volunteering opportunity through the Feast’s funder the Merchant Taylors’ Foundation, which is a charitable arm of The Merchant Taylors Company, one of the Great Twelve Livery Companies of the City of London.” - Sam Chadd

“The Feast’s approach to living well in an increasingly polarised world brings young people together and have fun while learning key skills. I loved seeing quieter students discover strengths they didn’t realise they had.” - Natalie Shaw

We are very much looking forward to working in partnership again in the coming year.