Our desire is to bring together teenagers from different faiths and cultures to build friendships, explore faith and change lives.
We work by building good relationships with groups of young people and then invite them to ‘encounter’ events where they can meet one another. The relationships between the young people have to be developed in distinctive ways, as their varied communities have different structures and youth programmes based on faith and culture.
All our events are totally youth focussed and a typical event involves warm up activities, discussion starters, group work, games and refreshments. We adopt good youth work practice and have the interests and needs of the young people at heart. Over the years we have found that small events (typically no more than 20 young people) have a much greater impact on these young people than large events, and we work hard to make sure there are equal numbers of each participating faith group.
At each ‘encounter’ event, after breaking the ice, we set up the ground rules for their time together, called our Guidelines for Dialogue. This creates a safe space where the young people are willing to share their thoughts and feelings in an honest way. As a result of this we can then facilitate open discussions based on them speaking about their own faith, and in the process they learn about the similarities and differences that exist between faiths. We believe that acknowledging both similarities and differences is vital if we are to be honest about our faith and be equipped to deal with disagreements when they occur.
The topics we discuss are ones that young people are concerned about rather than ones that faith leaders, theologians or other adults think they ought to be discussing. Through this we enable the young people to share their beliefs, experiences and ideas with one another rather than telling them what they ought to be sharing.
These personal faith conversations, based on mutual vulnerability and respect, are an excellent environment for forming new friendships. Young people are helped to overcome their fears and gain the confidence to live well with people from a different community or faith. They can sit together, enjoy food, a laugh and have honest and open conversations.
We encourage young people to take what they learn at The Feast out into their everyday lives. This may mean they confront their own prejudices and look to make positive change in their own lives, families and communities. It may also lead to young people leading on social action initiatives like litter picks, collecting food for, and visiting needy people, and proactive peaceful protest against injustice. We are proud to see this diverse group of young people making such positive change in their families, schools, neighbourhoods and communities, and maybe the world.
In response to the growing interest in our work, The Feast also runs a number of training events each year. These events are often run in partnership with other organisations that are looking to train their workers, as well as being open to the public as well as youth workers from across the country who want training on how to encourage their youth to love their neighbour.