ParliaMentors, the pandemic, and diverse leadership
10 / 09 / 20
01 / 06 / 20
This week we meet Tim Mortimer, our Programmes Manager for Movement Building. He’s motivated by improving the connection, understanding and collaboration between different communities, and helping to build long term friendships and trust across difference.
Your name and job title: Tim Mortimer – Programmes Manager, Movement Building
What made you initially interested in interfaith work?
As Dusty Springfield would say, I’m the son of a preacher man, and preacher woman. Growing up literally in a Church, surrounded by prayer meetings and Christian camps, and coming to terms with being LGBT within that community has had a massive effect on who I am. And its given me this lifelong curiosity about how faith affects peoples lives in different ways.
Why do you feel it’s still required in our world? What motivates you?
I think I see a lot of diversity and communities living next to/on top of each other in London. But not always enough connection, understanding and collaboration between different communities. Changing that motivates me! Helping to build long term friendships and trust across difference.
How did you first hear about F&BF?
When I was studying Religious Studies at the University of Leeds, my favourite lecturer Mel ran a module called ‘The Theory and Practice of Interfaith Dialogue’ which I loved. I wrote about F&BF (or 3FF as it was then) in my essay. After that I checked the jobs section on the F&BF website quite a lot, got the second one I applied for, and here we are 6 years later.
How would you explain what you do to someone completely unfamiliar with our work, and what is your favourite aspect of your job?
I’d say something like “I work at an interfaith charity that was originally started by a Christian, a Jew and a Muslim to help faith communities…” and then do a weird interlinking motion with my hands. I would also tell them a bit about how in School Linking we might help a class of Christian kids and a class of Sikh kids get to know each other over a year. I don’t even work on that project, I just think it’s a great way to explain our methodology simply.
A favourite part of my job is training and helping young people of faith develop through programmes like ParliaMentors, and then years later seeing how they’ve gone on to do amazing things, whether that’s setting up charities, getting elected, published or standing up for what they believe in.
What is the most common misconception about your job? And what is the truth?
I think a big one is that we all sit round in a circle, holding hands and singing Kumbaya. And the truth is we’re way more edgy than that. Our work is about grassroots community development, policy and engaging with MPs, youth opportunity, power and intersectionality, complex training and delicate mediation. Also holding hands is totes not interfaith anyway…
What didn’t you realise about interfaith until working at F&BF?
A huge thing I’ve learnt at F&BF is how faith is personal and so often related to other parts of who we are. You can’t fully understand someone’s faith without thinking about how it relates to their race, class, gender, family etc. It’s been great to explore this through our LGBT+Faith work where I’ve met so many incredible LGBT people from different faiths. I’ve also learnt loads being part of F&BF’s Race & Faith working group, particularly thinking about whiteness and Christianity.
What are you most proud of during your time here at F&BF?
When I first become a manager, F&BF’s programming was mainly in Schools and Universities, and I’ve worked with an awesome team to develop a third strand of programming in local communities, which is now thriving. Either that, or working with the Youth Council to deliver the first F&BF Interfaith Summit back in 2015, we weren’t sure if anyone would come and hundreds did!
What floats your boat outside of work?
I like drag queens, communal living, running, reading, pop music and Ed Miliband. I hate tidying (That’s basically my Tinder profile). I also volunteer at Birmingham PHAB Camps, where every year we take a bunch of kids to the Lake District, some who have disabilities and some who don’t, for a holiday that embraces every ability. I get to live my dream of wearing fancy dress every day for a week.
10 / 09 / 20
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