Freedom of Religion or Belief Conference
19 / 12 / 22
27 / 04 / 20
Each week we’ll highlight those behind the scenes of our organisation, get to know them better and discover exactly why they like to support interfaith work.
Your name and job title:
Rich Pringle, Programmes Manager, West Midlands
What made you initially interested in interfaith work?
I have always been interested to hearing people’s stories and experiences and understanding how that influences their faith and belief. At the time of applying to work at the Faith &Belief Forum, I was a Church Pastor and a Firefighter – I was also interested in Prevention work in the Fire Service and particularly working with young people in education. I was really interested in developing my experience working in education alongside my passion for faith and belief and was excited to be involved in the interfaith projects in schools that F&BF were delivering.
Why do you feel it’s still required in our world? What motivates you?
There are lots of reasons! I think you could look to divisions in the world and the importance of bringing people together to build bridges. You could also look to the way in which many people are misrepresented and misunderstood across society through generalised narratives and the importance of giving these people a voice to share their individual stories and challenge stereotypes and generations.
What motivates me though is my own experience and how my life has been enriched through this work. I have lived in the same area of Birmingham all my life, when I joined F&BF I had been part of the same church community for 15 years. Prior to working in interfaith it was very easy not to encounter people with different worldviews, experiences and backgrounds. Now 4 years on my life has been so enriched through interfaith work. I have met so many people, had so many conversations that have deepened my empathy and understanding towards others and taken me on a journey in my own faith.
How did you first hear about F&BF?
I was scrolling Charity Jobs and spotted a role to develop F&BF work in Birmingham. I hadn’t heard of the organisation before and the deadline for the role was that day! I really loved what they did and put together the best application I could in the short time I had!
How would you explain what you do to someone completely unfamiliar with our work, and what is your favourite aspect of your job?
For me the simplest way to describe our work is, bringing people together from different backgrounds, different experiences and different ideas to better understand each other.
My favourite part of my job is working with young people through our workshops. It is brilliant to see a room fall silent as students listen to stories from people from different faiths and beliefs they have never met before and then watch hands shoot up to ask questions.
What is the most common misconception about your job? And what is the truth?
The most common misconception about our work is that interfaith work should just focus on what we have in common. Whilst this is a good thing to explore the reality is that we are all unique and therefore it is important to explore how we live together across our differences. My experience has taught me that there is a much deeper relationship developed when we have honest conversations about difference.
What didn’t you realise about interfaith until working at F&BF?
I didn’t realise the important of individual and complexity of identity. We are all unique and will experience faith and belief in different ways. Faith and belief overlap and intersects with all of the other elements of our identities. This makes identity complex and it is important to enter conversations holding assumptions lightly. When I started F&BF I might start a sentence with ‘Christians believe….’ I now start that same sentence with ‘I believe….’.
What are you most proud of during your time here at F&BF?
I am most proud of the development of the School Linking programme in Birmingham. During my first week at F&BF in 2016 I attended a teacher CPD in London. 4 teachers had traveled down to London from the West Midlands as there wasn’t enough to read a separate CPD in the Midlands. At the start of the 19/20 academic year we trained 70 teachers from our School Linking Programme in Birmingham.
What floats your boat outside of work?
I love coffee. I have 6 home brewers and love the ritual of making fresh coffee each day. I also love boardgames. I have over 100, with themes ranging from cave framing to trekking in US National Parks.