News / Interfaith Fun Run boosts Refugee Morale

Interfaith Fun Run boosts Refugee Morale



19 / 08 / 22

A group of intrepid refugees and asylum seekers from various countries will be joining others in a very special event this bank holiday Monday

By Sorcha Connell

Increased mental health issues are just one of the stark realities for refugees and asylum seekers who arrive into the UK, and who find life on various waiting lists very isolating and demoralising.

Families, the elderly, singles and children are housed in various temporary accommodations, and some only receive £8 a week to provide beyond their basic needs for things like shoes, medicine, sanitary & baby items. Some are homeless.

This year however, refugees housed in Barnet and surrounding areas are being given the chance to join a special event this Bank Holiday Monday – the London Interfaith Fun Run, unique in the UK and in its second year.

Held at the Saracen’s StoneX Stadium in Barnet, it intends a ‘summer festival vibe’ of different faith, cultures and experiences, and is an amazing opportunity to send a message to London, and the UK – faith and belief can be on the side of friendship and community regardless of difference and division.

Farida Stanikzai from New Citizen’s Gateway refugee service says:

“We are bringing over 40 refugees on the Bank Holiday to have a great day out at the interfaith Fun Run – from places such as Iran, Afghanistan, Albania, Syria, Congo & Kurdistan. This event is really important to us, and we are very grateful to the Faith & Belief Forum for including our clients. Many haven’t ever seen a stadium before, or been in a social environment with locals.”

New Citizen’s Gateway is the only charity in Barnet helping refugees and asylum seekers, with over 700 men, women and children to support. Improving mental health is a core driver, she says:

“As a refugee organisation our main positive for this event is the diversity, but also mental health. During the pandemic many of our clients were isolated, and some of them haven’t had the chance to participate in things that makes them proud, or gives them a sense of belonging & confidence.”

Farida is keen to highlight how many refugees are educated professionals and talented hard-working people, who happened to have suffered great tragedies.

“We want to really share that our refugees have amazing talents – one is a professional dancer and will perform at the Fun Run! We are thrilled about this.”

The refugees will be running alongside over50 participating charities, such as Faith for the Climate, the Naz & Matt Foundation, Solutions Not Sides, Student Christian Movement, Faiths Women UK, CitySikhs and many more in a Charity Fair on the day.

About the Interfaith Fun Run

The Fun Run offers options of a 10km, 5km or 1km to walk, run or jog, as well as the Tri-Run which includes all three distances. A video of highlights from 2021 can be found here >>

There is also a buzzing festival area with performances from a diverse range of faith and belief groups, interfaith encounters, activities for families and young people, food stalls and a picnic area, and more. Performers include The Jive Aces (Britian’s Got Talent Semi-finalists), mediation sessions with Shumei UK and Brazilian Capoeira.

David Dangoor CBE, who initiated the Fun Run project and is chair of Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London’s Council on Faith, said: “The Interfaith Fun Run is an opportunity for Londoners, whatever their ethnic group or faith, to come together and send a message of unity and friendship. It clearly shows the enormous amount of good this city’s diverse communities and cultures can do when we all work together.”

Comment from runners:

Nacer Afron, who has chosen to run 5K for the Southwark Muslim Forum, says: “Events like these show that faiths can come together as one unit, with no discrimination. So come and be part of it! Join on the day, it helps us all”.

Local pharmacist Sherifat Kamal says “An interfaith fun run is unusual, but anything that creates community cohesion is excellent to me. Also supporting so many charities! London is a city of diverse cultures and ethnicities, so anything that brings us together to celebrate this makes me feel good”.

For additional information or for interviews with the charities involved, contact Jessica@faithbeliefforum.org | philip@faithbeliefforum.org | media@faithbeliefforum.org

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