Many big cities, like Birmingham, are made up of smaller distinct communities, within which people share similarities in socioeconomic standing, culture or faith. Each can be vibrant and thriving, as their residents enjoy mixing with neighbours who they feel most alike and comfortable around.
However problems can arise when interaction needs to happen between these communities. Either they avoid going to another part of the city, or the ways they think, talk, feel and behave towards others is in some way impeded. The phrase “parallel lives” was once used to describe this lack of meaningful engagement with others.
This year The Feast is very pleased to have launched our Building Better Bridges project, between two very different youth groups, thanks to funding from Awards for All. These young people may only be 5 miles apart, but they could be in different countries!
Salma is one of the youth workers at Icircle, which is run by the Islamic Society of Britain and based at the Bordesley Centre in Sparkbrook. Adam is the youth worker at Down to Earth, based at St Thomas Church in Garretts Green.
Salma told us why she joined the project for a number of reasons:
“I believe that conversation is vital for building relationships. Silence breeds mistrust and uncertainty and suspicion. Young people are searching for answers to their questions and the safe space provided during The Feast’s Youth Encounters allows this to happen.
For many young people faith is a shared experience which needs to be explored for a deeper understanding of identity, self-worth and co-operation. Understanding that we have more in common is crucial for growth and hope in our communities. So young people must be actively involved in making positive changes for their futures to ensure mutual respect of values/beliefs.
I am excited to be able to help and support young people to create dialogue, especially during difficult times, to ensure relationships are strengthened and not weakened, fractured.“
As a part of Building Better Bridges, Salma and Adam have met up to learn about their different communities, cultures and faiths, including visiting each others groups. After starting to help their own young people to think about their sense of identity, and thoughts and feelings towards peers who are very different, the groups recently came together for their first Youth Encounter programme.
Check out how it went HERE, as shared by Scarlett and Charlie from Garretts Green.
Their next Youth Encounter is coming up soon, where they will be looking further into the theme of identity and giving the young people an opportunity to openly question each other about their values.