22 / 07 / 20
The COVID-19 pandemic has made us face a wide range of challenges and struggles, as we adapt to keep ourselves safe, work from home and socially distance. One problem this has raised is how we keep ourselves physically, mentally and emotionally health, engaged and connected. Lockdown rules and restrictions mean exercising is more difficult, and we more isolated and distant from our friends, family and wider communities – all of which can be damaging to our mind and body. However, many faith and belief community groups have been working hard, both before and during the coronavirus pandemic, to engage with their local neighbourhoods, and promote healthier, more dynamic and engaged lifestyles and activities.
We at the Faith and Belief Forum believe it is more important than ever to share the stories of how faith groups are supporting their local communities, both in response to COVID-19, and their work in general.
For the past four years, we have had the pleasure of hosting the London Faith & Belief Community Awards. This allows us to shine a spotlight on these amazing groups, raising their profile and voice, and ensuring they can continue to work hard for their communities.
One such example of this is Humanist UK’s Non-Religious Pastoral Network, a London Faith & Belief Community Awards winner from 2019. Based in Islington, the Non-Religious Pastoral Network works hard to provide pastoral care and support to non-religious people across the United Kingdom. Formed in 2016, the network was setup by Humanist UK, and is not limited to humanists, but rather all those who hold a non-religious belief system. The network trains and promotes a wide range of carers for those in need, offering clinical supervision, career support and even a specialised master’s degree programme (MA in Existential and Humanist Pastoral Support). Working with bodies such as the NHS and HMPSS, the network helps to implement policies and plans that allow non-religious patients, prisoners, students, armed forces members and others to gain strong, supportive pastoral care that fits their needs. Despite being unable to undertake face-to-face pastoral care, the network remains active during the pandemic, providing support and resources online. To find out more about the Non-Religious Pastoral Network visit their website or Twitter page.
When discussing their win, the Non-Religious Pastoral Network commented that they have “been able to use the award to promote the service, so that more institutions are aware of the care available”. They also spoke of how the award has been a “mark of achievement” and a “reflection” of their inclusive values, allowing them to widen their activities and their reach, such as having the Humanist Choir visit hospitals across London. This shows just how important this award can be within promoting the handwork and dedication of faith and belief groups who positively impact their local communities.
Another group that promotes health and wellbeing is Jamyang Buddhist Centre, a London Faith & Belief Community Awards winner from 2017. Based in Elephant and Castle, Jamyang Buddhist Centre offers a wide range of activities and programmes that hope to inspire healthy living and mindfulness. This includes yoga, tai chai meditation classes, such as MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction). The centre also runs a wide ra
nge of other activities, such as Jamyang Walks and Dying Well, a death and bereavement support class that uses Buddhist philosophies. All of their classes and activities are open to all, including yoga and meditation novices and children. Jamyang remains committed to supporting the health and wellbeing of their local community, even during the pandemic and have moved many of their services online. This includes livestreaming yoga and meditation classes, study sessions and mindfulness drop-ins. To find out how you can participate, or to learn more about Jamyang Buddiest Centre, visit their website, Facebook and Twitter pages.
Both these groups are examples of promoting health and wellbeing, a notation category for the London Faith & Belief Community Awards. This category celebrates groups and organisation that put the physical and mental health and wellbeing of their local communities first, ensuring that they are provided with support and opportunities to make the right choices for a healthy, active and stable lifestyle.
With our upcoming London Faith & Belief Community Awards 2020, we hope to share the stories of similar, important work. If you know of any grassroots projects or groups of unsung community heroes that deserve to be celebrated, please nominate them!
Each winner will be given awards of £500 and will be invited to attend an awards ceremony (we are reviewing this in light of COVID-19). For more information on the awards and nomination criteria, please visit here or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
15 / 07 / 20
07 / 07 / 20