New for this school year, The Feast is proud to be running a series of training days, including our first training days outside of Birmingham. We’re really glad to be working with the Salvation Army to run these days, and to share some of what we have learnt about working with young people in our diverse communities. Olly Thorp, Strategic Development Officer at the Salvation Army, shares his thoughts on the first training day in Stepney (East London) –
“Friday 8th November saw the first of The Feast training days for the Salvation Army at Booth House Life House in Tower Hamlets. Having already supported our Essential students in their gap year training, it was great to have Jenni from The Feast team come and share her experience as a schools worker for the organisation. The day highlighted how we can promote, support and facilitate interfaith dialogue for young people in our schools, youth clubs and communities.
The format was the same as that which you would expect to use to run an interfaith dialogue event for young people. It was highly interactive with lots of discussion and debate. Setting clear boundaries for conversation, it allowed attendees from the same and different faiths to discuss and explore what their faith meant to them and what positive impact it had on their lives.
Many communities, not just inner cities, are becoming increasingly diverse in their ethnic and religious make-up. This does not necessarily mean, however, that there is an increased understanding of these faiths and how they impact the lives of their adherents. Young people can grow up in schools of just one faith, and live in communities with one ethnic and faith majority, never being exposed to the thoughts and experiences of those from other faiths. This makes it difficult to interact with and learn about another’s faith and share our own, and opportunity is lost to find common ground or explore differences in a healthy and constructive way.
There is a potential for a tension to exist between two invitational faiths such as Christianity and Islam, and even between two denominations of the same faith, but the reality is that there is cohabitation of these faiths or expressions of faith in the UK and throughout the world, and there is a serious need to develop understanding and peace where there is this coexistence.
The training day was an opportunity to ask difficult questions or issues like this, and to reflect with Jenni on some of the challenges The Feast have faced in the development of this work, as well as reflection on the huge amount of experience and good work that the reputation of The Feast has built upon over the last four years.
The training was a really useful day practically and personally, as well as creating opportunity for people of the same communities to come together and consider how they can take this vision and learning away to impact the people who live there.”
Our next training day with The Feast is on Monday 25th November in Aston (Birmingham), and we are also running a training day in Keighley (Yorkshire) on 11th January. It would be great if you could join us for the day. Please feel free to invite colleagues and friends of your and other faiths!
Salvation Army staff and volunteers should register with Olly Thorp and all other bookings should be made on our website in Aston (Birmingham), and Keighley (Yorkshire)!