29 / 03 / 23
Mahmooda Qureshi, F&BF Programme Coordinator, West Midlands
Having lived in Birmingham most of my life, being involved in community work for the most chunk of it, I was always interested in working Solihull. For one reason or the other, I was not able to work with the people living in the borough.
When the opportunity to work on the Solihull Faith Action Project arose, I was very excited at the prospect of working with Solihull Local Authority and identifying the people of faith living there too.
Being involved in interfaith work for nearly 2 decades, I had plenty of contacts in the field to help me look out for people who would be suitable to invite to be part of this great project. Although, we struggled to identify some faith communities to join us, we had to continue with delivery of the project. After over 20 one-to-one chats with individuals, we selected 14 people to join the project.
It was heart-warming to see how we moved from our Faith Based Organisation (FBO) representatives not knowing each other, to giving lifts to one another and being invited to one another’s place of worship and see these relationships develop within a space of 3 months. This all happened over 7 encounters. Out of the 7, two were online.
We wanted to ensure we listened to our FBOs and plan those encounters with practically what would be best for them, considering what they said they wanted. We arranged the formats of workshops in such a way that we wanted their suggestions accommodated. We always started our session with a reflection from the diverse faiths represented, along with personal prayers at the beginning and at the end of each session.
The project ended with a big bang. We’d intended to cater for about 50 people to join our networking lunch and ended with over 70 people who attended. Having the leader of the council join us was the icing on the cake!
The local authority as partners were amazing in their support, which enabled that success. I pray that the relationships developed through this project go from strength to strength and enable Solihull to be an even better place through these relationships.