Not farewell but au revoir
10 / 11 / 22
09 / 03 / 22
Tim Mortimer, Programmes Manager, Movement Building
After 7 and a half years working at F&BF, and three different roles, it’s time for my next steps. Amidst all the handing over, I’m reflecting on what an incredible opportunity it’s been.
I’ve had a curiosity about other faiths for a long time, after growing up in a very Christian centric environment. My colleagues are extremely used to me referencing Dusty Springfield, frequently describing myself as ‘the son of a preacher man and preacher woman’, but that upbringing has had a huge impact on who I am, and so I’m drawn to exploring how faith and belief has impacted others’ lives too. That curiosity led me to the Theology & Religious Studies Department at Leeds, and it also led me to F&BF. After spending a few months constantly refreshing the jobs page on the 3FF (as it was called then) website, I got the second job I applied for and count myself extremely lucky to have found work in a sector I care about so much, so early in my career.
In my initial Officer and Coordinator roles, my focus was ParliaMentors. It’s a unique programme, drawing together themes of faith and belief, politics and social change under the banner of collaborative leadership to build a new generation of more diverse and representative leaders in the UK. It’s been a politically turbulent time, with a real crisis in leadership, so having conversations about leading differently has always felt particularly pertinent.
The best thing about working on ParliaMentors is seeing what the hundreds of young people that graduate from the programme, who genuinely give me some hope for the future, go on to do. To list a few examples, it could be… (take a deep breath) founding numerous vital organisations like The Delicate Mind, Sadeh and Foundervine, publishing books about their experience as refugees, appearing on Big Brother Naija and subsequently running daily online prayers to their 1.4million followers, being elected as SU Presidents, Council leaders and principled MPs in the Middle East, founding global grassroots movements supporting COVID relief or being ambassadors for interfaith in their careers, communities and lives. To me, this long-term impact, which encourages our participants to keep working across difference and bring others along with them, years after our programming stops, is some of F&BF’s most important work.
More recently I’ve had a broader remit as Programmes Manager for Movement Building, which has involved setting up a new strand of Community programming alongside our Universities work. From Community Dialogue and intensive work with particular local authorities to large scale events like the Awards and Interfaith Fun Run. Faith Inclusion Training for workplaces to opening up important intersectional conversations through LGBT+Faith. I’m really proud of how our growing Movement Building Team has taken F&BF’s message out to a much wider and more varied audience, with work that recognises the power and passion faith and belief groups bring to our society.
It’s this variety that I’ll really miss. On any given day I could be eating langar in a gurdwara, discovering a warehouse that welcomes thousands of weekly worshippers from across London’s African diaspora communities, attending a colleague’s aufruf at her synagogue, running around the Interfaith Summit with overloaded trays of cake, witnessing classes of 7 year olds from two different faith schools meet for the first time or staying up til 2am debating theology at a youth residential. Interfaith work, and the possibilities that F&BF opens up to explore ‘lived faith’ really are so special.
Of course there have been some challenges, not least the funding environment. I do find it frustrating that work to build connection across difference is not higher up more funding agendas, when to me it is so self evidently necessary in contemporary Britain. However I’m proud of the funding we have secured and grateful for the long term, trusted relationships we’ve built with particular funders, I’m proud also that given the securitisation of the community relations funding landscape, especially at a governmental level, F&BF has made important ethical decisions about what funding is not for us. As a convenor, I think making decisions that maintain trust across diverse communities is beyond vital.
Working at F&BF is so much more than a job, I think, it’s personal. In order to lead work that encourage others to open up about who they are, you have to be ready to bring that vulnerability yourself, pretty regularly. I think that’s one reason I’m taking a bit of a break, and heading to Thailand for the Rotary Peace Fellowship at Chulalongkorn University, before I think about another job. But I also think it’s the personal nature of our work that’s led me to build so many close relationships here. It’s a cliché but F&BF feels like family.
There are so many amazing people connected to our charity, who bring so much personally and professionally, from whom I’ve learnt an incredible amount. Thank you so much to all of you, past and present. With such a strong team, a large scale ParliaMentors Evaluation and new Workplace Training offer about to launch and a new Strategic Plan, I’m super excited to see what comes next!
On that note, if you like the sound of my job and would like to apply, you can find it here.
Tim has been a vital part of F&BF for the last 7 years, and we will miss his hard work, humour and passion. Although we are sad to see him go, we are so excited for his future – good luck Tim! ❤️
10 / 11 / 22
07 / 11 / 22