06 / 02 / 19
Ben Shapiro, Programmes Officer, the Faith & Belief Forum
Dr Rupa Huq MP for Ealing Central and Acton, one of our fantastic MP mentors on our ParliaMentors programme, invited me and the team she is mentoring at SOAS university to the commonwealth parliamentary association room in the palace of Westminster to see and take part in an interfaith event during UN World Interfaith Harmony Week.
ParliaMentors is the Faith & Belief Forum’s interfaith political leadership programme where students from different backgrounds work together in groups of five, while being mentored by a Parliamentarian, to create a social action project which improves the lives of the people around them and helps their local area.
Dr Rupa Huq MP is mentoring five students at SOAS university who will be working with her to do more interfaith events in Ealing.
This is a great addition to the Faith & Belief Forum’s existing range of school workshops currently run across the borough reaching thousands of young people in schools and colleges.
It was wonderful to meet so many constituents – at least 50 – from different faiths and beliefs, at least eight churches were well represented along with Jewish, Muslim, Baha’i and Buddhist congregants from communities across the constituency.
We got to hear from Rupa Huq MP about why it is so important to make sure that people of faith engage in dialogue between one another and how, in the experience of many present, food is the best way to make everyone comfortable and chat freely. Hence there was an abundance of cuisine from many faith traditions from across the world. There were some labels for dietary information and one that I loved which just said, “spicy!”
Through this generous-spirited event I heard about the great work going on at many of the communities present, and their desire to share that work with the others in the constituency which made me particularly happy that the ParliaMentors at SOAS are taking on the mantle of ensuring more interfaith encounters happen and helping everyone learn about one another’s events.
We also heard from Steve Pound MP for a neighbouring constituency talk about the role of faith communities post-Brexit and the importance of keeping communication open to our fellow people of faith across Europe as challenging times appear to be coming not just to the British people but also to many in all countries in Europe with the rise of far-right groups in European Parliaments.
As I left Rupa Huq was inviting her constituents to come and observe the chamber. On the tube I saw lots of attendees continuing their conversations which fills me with hope that faith communities will continue to work with one another and keep getting involved in local and national politics for the good of everyone. I am looking forward to the next event with the Ealing Central and Acton team.