29 / 04 / 20
Our Movement Building Team have given their own individual reflections on delivering projects during April 2020’s lockdown
This month has been the first full month of delivering Community programmes from home. There has been much to learn and personally I have experienced many emotions whilst settling into this new not-so-normal! I have really benefited from taking pause to complete a FutureLearn course ‘How to Teach Online’ and from connecting with partners across the charity sector who are facing similar challenges in their work.
In Barking and Dagenham I am preparing for a series of six Faith Inclusion workshops as part of our Faith in Barking and Dagenham project, to be rolled out online from next week.
On the LGBT+Faith programme I am continuing to connect with single faith LGBT+ organisations and exploring how we can work together during this difficult time. It has been heartening to hear of the increased support these groups are providing for members, at a time when safe spaces are much needed.
Another highlight of the last month was Volunteer Recognition Day when we said ‘thank you’ to our three office volunteers – Nicholas, Leila, and Muhammad – who are generously continuing to donate their time and skills to support the Faith & Belief Forum throughout this lockdown period.
Like Siobhán, the adjustment to the new not-so-normal is still ongoing for me, but the one thing that has helped the transition is the strength of relationships we have – both within the F&BF family and with our partners.
I am so thankful that in Barking and Dagenham, our work quickly transitioned onto an online platform and was well received by all we work with.
The young leaders we are supporting to deliver a social action project were not deterred by the pandemic and gave their time (around busy and changing work schedules) to come up with a plan to respond to Covid-19 and support their local communities. As well as volunteering in a personal capacity, they are working towards creating a wellness activity pack inspired by local communities – they are still collecting ideas for materials and you can contribute here.
We have also been able to stay connected with the Barking and Dagenham Faith Forum, with whom we are co-creating events that will support local faith leaders and linking faith-based food banks.
A highlight for me last month was taking part in BD CAN Plus meeting in which over 50 VCS organisations and faith organisations came together to share their current work, the challenges they are facing and the successes they have celebrated and what I felt was most important – want new ways of working and new connecting will they keep once this is all over.
We have closed recruitment for the 2020-21 ParliaMentors programme, thank you to all the university and SU staff that have helped us this year.
Despite challenges unique to this year we are very pleased to have the highest number of Hindu applicants ever and good representation across different political parties, faith groups, race, gender and sexual orientation.
Students currently on the ParliaMentors programme have also faced disruption, but they are rising to the occasion and responding to it differently across the country. Review our current list of MP’s supporting them here.
In Liverpool, the current Parliamentors team is harnessing social media to provide a wellness hour; In Salford, the team will be screening a documentary they have created; in London, a guide for students considering different options after education is being created; and ParliaMentors in Birmingham are sharing their experiences of volunteering during lockdown through blogs and vlogs.
Although I have only been volunteering with the Faith & Belief Forum for a few weeks, the current situation has meant that I have had to learn and experience things in a deeper and different way.
One such example has been creating a database of how past Faith & Belief Forum Award winners have been responding to the pandemic. Hearing how they continue to work hard and adapt to the situation has been inspiring to me and the volunteering work that I do.
I have also been engaging with the Barking and Dagenham Faith Forum; supporting how the borough’s faith groups have continued to stick together and work hard for those in need. I look forward to what’s next and the exciting challenges my work may bring.
Over the past few weeks I’ve been getting in touch with former ParliaMentors and asking them about their reflections on the social action project they set up. The projects I have been focusing on have been hugely relevant in this lock-down period and elements could be implemented during this time.
The themes of the projects are; the use of allotment spaces, letter writing to pensioners combating loneliness, and tackling domestic violence. Its been really great speaking to them all, and I hope to make a few more calls over the next few days. We are hoping that these accounts will make for some nice social media over the coming weeks.
Please contact the Community & Movement Building team if you have any queries or suggestions
Main Photo: Barking & Dagenham BD CAN Plus meeting on Zoom earlier this month