12 / 09 / 23
In a world that often seems divided, finding opportunities to bridge gaps and foster understanding can be a challenge, yet is vital. Having joined the Faith & Belief Forum staff team just two weeks ago, I had the privilege of helping run the 3rd annual London Interfaith Fun Run, organised in partnership between the Faith & Belief Forum and Maccabi GB. As well as a great induction into F&BF, the event reminded me just how important interfaith engagement is.
The London Interfaith Fun Run 2023 was held at the StoneX Stadium in Barnet. On 3rd September, after an early start setting up, the stadium came alive with hundreds of people from various religious backgrounds and walks of life.
I spent most of the day welcoming people at the gate as they arrived and left the site. It was wonderful to see such a variety of people from different religious and belief backgrounds arrive with such enthusiasm and leave with such beaming smiles on their faces after the day of celebration. Around the site, there was plenty to get involved in, from the craft stall to the charity fair and even an interfaith trail hunt for little ones. The food and music made the event so lively and vibrant. I remember being in the charity fair, walking out the tunnel and seeing a crowd had gathered to follow the routine and instruction of the Oranim Dance Troupe. They were moving as one with joy and energy and it was such a sight to see! Those are the memories and experiences I’m so glad that people got to make this year.
I did manage to catch a glimpse of the start of the 5km and 10km race. The chair of His Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London’s Council on Faith, David Dangoor, gave a short speech at the start line, highlighting the core values of compassion, love, and tolerance shared by all faiths, and of the importance of coming together.
Soon after, the signal sounded and hundreds started to run! Part of me so wished I was among the crowd, but part of me was also glad to be on the sidelines, given the heat! Huge kudos to all those who ran the 1km, 5km and 10km routes!
Overall, the event aimed to promote interfaith harmony and celebrate our shared values, reminding us that we are more alike than we are different. And it did exactly that, through the celebration of different music, food and the coming together of people for the fun run. Throughout the day, it was heartwarming to hear how the event had touched everyone in different ways. Many spoke about newfound friendships and a deeper appreciation for the richness of diverse cultures and beliefs. For me, it was about gaining a sense of belonging to a larger, inclusive community, especially as I settle into my new role at F&BF.
The event served as a powerful testament to the idea that, despite our differences in faith, culture, and background, we can come together as one community, united by our shared values of love, compassion, and tolerance.
I am already looking forward to next year’s London Interfaith Fun Run, and hope that I can be on the start line with you all!
Written by Sophie Mitchell – Programmes Coordinator, London Youth and Communities