23 / 07 / 19
By Hannah Taylor, Faith & Belief Forum Head of Operations
When you ask groups of 11-year-old majority Sikh & Catholic kids to design their perfect city, the results are pretty special.
Cities have names like “Pride City” and mottos like “Be Inspired, Be Inspiring”.
Everyone is welcome and there’s no discrimination.
There are chocolate rivers and theme parks, and money grows on trees.
There’s no pollution because all the power is generated from solar panels and thermal energy.
Everyone is equal. What does this mean? “Everyone has the same amount of money”.
People from all faiths and beliefs come together to celebrate each other’s festivals and occasions, like baptisms and Vaisakhi.
It’s beautiful in its idealism, but also movingly poignant.
There are places to go to make friends when you feel lonely.
Kitchen robots do all the chopping. Because knives are banned.
After six years at the Faith & Belief Forum I finally observed my first Link Day this week, with young people from Sikh ethos and Catholic schools at the end of their year on the Faith & Belief Forum’s School Linking Programme.
Over my time here I’ve heard lots of great stories about Link Days; I’ve felt the energy coming from our training room when we’re working with the teachers on the programme, and seen what the team call “the link day glow” on the faces of other staff returning to the office after visiting a link day. So I was excited to finally see one for myself, but I don’t think I was expecting to be as moved as I was by the day.
This was their third encounter, having hosted each other at their schools earlier in the academic year. The tone for the day was set as soon as we arrived. The first thing the teacher asked the students why they thought they’d been asked to come in their own clothes instead of their uniforms today.
“Because today we are one group, not two” came the answer.
I joined in with a very excitable game of Rock Paper Scissors (a clever ploy to get the winners and losers sharing stories about themselves) then settled in for the day’s main activity, which is called “A City for All”. Students were put into mixed groups and asked to work together to create a vision of what their perfect city would look like. 45 minutes later and I was hearing the words above and feeling that “link day glow” come over me.
“You have a great gift,” said the teacher, “by the individuals that you are, to be able to make an impact as young people.”
They certainly made an impact on me.
Harriet Jordison is walking 100km in support of the Linking Programme – click here to sponsor her and enable us to partner yet more schools across the city.
Schools interested in joining the Linking Programme can click here.