Not farewell but au revoir
10 / 11 / 22
06 / 10 / 22
45 emerging leaders from different faith and belief backgrounds came together this September to take the first steps towards creating positive change in their communities and beyond. The students on the Faith & Belief Forum’s ParliaMentors leadership programme took part in a three-day residential training, creating connections and gaining new skills at the start of their one-year journey.
The students from universities across the UK will work collectively to create and inspire change throughout the year through social action projects while being supported by MPs on the UN award-winning programme.
Lauren Simpson, University of Nottingham – “I wanted to meet people from more backgrounds and learn about more cultures and experiences. And then also the fact that you can be mentored by an MP, I found particularly compelling for my future career ambitions.”
During the three days there were plenty of opportunities for students to learn about each other’s backgrounds and identities and consider how they influence their politics and how they see the world.
Albert Salimov, University of Nottingham – “It’s been a wonderful experience meeting new people, new religions, new cultures, and trying to understand other people’s identities. I think that’s very valuable in a world that’s becoming more globalised.”
Ishani Pandey, SOAS – “ParliaMentors is a programme that actually provides that space and the freedom to be able to question and understand and acknowledge different things without there being a sense of judgement or bias or being ‘cancelled’. It was a very eye-opening experience to have first-hand stories from people with such interesting backgrounds.”
The residential event provided the students with several training sessions where they gained the skills necessary to deliver their social action projects and to have a positive impact in their communities.
Suhaib Habibullah, University of Manchester – “I really like the social action project idea of working with my local MP, trying to make an impact for my community, but also learning about different faiths as well. Diversity of thought and just meeting new people. I love doing that!”
Simranjeet Kaur, Coventry University – “The sessions gave a very in depth understanding of how different cultures, how different faiths can come together and change the world around them, how you can help the people around you.”
Benjamin Roberts, University of Nottingham – “I applied to the programme because it seemed like a fantastic opportunity to develop my leadership skills, especially to develop a social action project. I don’t have much experience with that and with the mentorship of an MP, they’d have the knowledge about how to develop something successfully and make a real difference.”
The students also visited Parliament, where they saw politics in action first-hand, something they will have more opportunities to do as they are being mentored by MPs throughout the year.
Alia Chowdhury, University of Liverpool – “The highlight would definitely be the visit to Parliament. That was a really amazing experience that I will never forget. I’ve never seen the Speaker march in front of my eyes so that was honestly just beautiful to watch.”
Prisha Sharma, University of Manchester – “It was really fascinating for me to see British politics in action, and it’s really wonderful to see people from such diverse backgrounds.”
Since 2007, over 580 people have graduated from the programme and now form a vibrant alumni network, continuing to engage in the many opportunities on offer to former participants. Many participants are now working in leadership positions in the public, private and voluntary sectors, continuing to bring about positive change and champion good interfaith relations in their roles.