31 / 03 / 20
Phil Champain, Director of the Faith & Belief Forum
The Covid-19 pandemic is testing us – families, organisations, communities and governments. We are in unchartered territory. The priority is to keep safe and prevent the spread of the virus. This means physically distancing ourselves from others. But it does not mean cutting ourselves off from others. The myriad of online platforms and media channels mean that we may feel busier than ever as we transfer face to face meetings online, have daily catch ups with family and friends and participate in new online activities. We have been forced to adapt. And some of our new habits may well stick.
Here at F&BF we are committed to sustaining our work. While many businesses have had to close and many people across the UK are unable to work, we believe it is during times like this that charities like ours need to keep functioning – to find ways of supporting communities and the most vulnerable as best we can. This will be challenging given the lockdown conditions and the impact on the economy, but it is possible and will sustain the momentum behind the work we have built up over the years.
We are busy adapting our programmes, for example moving our university leadership programme online and increasing the amount of time we spend on developing online resources for school students, teachers and parents. We are also exploring how best to keep connections going between community groups in Walsall in the West Midlands, using online capacities to sustain the community dialogue that has been so important these past months. Adapting in this way will not only sustain momentum but will also expose new methods we may well want to sustain once we are out of this crisis.
And we will be out of it. We don’t know exactly when the current social distancing measures will be relaxed, but they will. When they are it will not be back to normal. Things will be different – socially, politically and economically. It is important as an organisation that we also think about this. About how we will be different also; about how we will need to align our work to a new context; about what this experience we are all going through means for relations between people of different faiths, beliefs and identities.
That’s the next chapter. For now, we hope those who read this newsletter are safe. Please keep in touch during these challenging days, weeks and months and let us know what support we can give as we continue our work.
If there’s anything we can do to support engagement between different communities in this new context, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re available Monday-Friday 9:30am-5:30pm on firstname.lastname@example.org.