Tuesday, 23 November 2010

National Inter Faith Week: day 3

First session on the Highcross display this morning was to be filled by Zee-Zee Heine (who has recently become a Buddhist representative on Leicester Council of Faiths) along with someone who has been entered into the Doodle online scheduler simply as “Amida student”. When I arrive at our spot, I see Susthama Marion Kim and what I take to be two “Amida students”. Zee-Zee has had to attend to a health issue with a member of her family, so Susthama has come forward in her place. Susthama has brought with her two young women, Charlotte Jordan and Louise Perrier, who are both studying for a Philosophy and Ethics degree at Bath Spa University. As part of their course, they go on a short placement with a relevant organisation – and they’re both doing theirs with the Amida Trust. I’m not able to stay long on the stall this morning as I have to attend the regular Tuesday morning meeting of REDP’s Delivery Group, but I take the opportunity to bring Charlotte and Louise to Kona Blue Coffee in Highcross, where Citizens' Eye is holding its regular Community News Café.   I leave them in the capable hands of John, Tina, Simon et al and head off to LCIL for my meeting.
I return just before the change-over at twelve noon. Susthama, Charlotte and Louise were joined after I'd left by Carol Sourbutts, whom I know through Christians Aware. (Carole, Charlotte and Louise are in the photo above). I ask our student visitors how they'd got on at the Community News Cafe; they tell me that they've been asked to write an article about their turn on our exhibition for publication on the Citizen's Eye website! For the first shift in the afternoon, the display is minded by Tara Gatherer (from Citizens' Eye) and colleagues from REDP and LCIL (Kelly Jussab and Liz Harrison in the photo below, along with Tara).

I receive an unsolicited text this morning from someone I haven't met before - Natasha Trivedi - who offers to come and help on the display later today. I ask her to meet me in Highcross at midday so she can see what she might be getting herself into. I'm delighted to meet Natasha and ask her to come back at 1400. She does terrifically well on the stall and I'm very glad she came forward. Natasha is in the photo below, along with Noel Singh (Policy Officer for Community Cohesion, Leicestershire County Council) and Ian Grayling (from the Zen Serene Meditation group).

Here are some of the comments by today's volunteers, left in the reflective journal:
"A very interesting experience, seeing all the banners in the display and people's reactions, some just passed by while taking a glance; others stopped for longer. Most, when approached, walked away quickly almost as if they wanted to look but not be associated."
"I feel that the stand has helped people in that it shows many different faiths all stood up against [sic] each other. this is good for passers by because even at a glance it leaves an image of being united."
"I have had an interesting experience at the Council of Faiths exhibition today. I spoke to a man from Immigration who was interested in finding out more about the Council of Faiths and passed on some details. I also spoke to a few other people who took some leaflets and managed to learn more myself about the different faiths and what the Council of Faiths is all about."

"Quite a few glances - some curious, some embarrassed. One or two conversations with interesting people - all supportive. Over, and above all, I was impressed by the selection of quotes on each faith-specific banner, all stating the simple and shared truth that 'love' is the only logical approach and answer to life and living."

"As above, a few interested and said we should all live by the quotes on display, 'unity' is the only way forward. Some leaflets taken but generally a very quiet time. Impressive exhibition was mentioned."

"I had an interesting experience at the exhibition today, with a plethora of views being expressed by the general public. Many people were in support of the Council of Faiths as they felt it was a strong platform from which to build greater community cohesion. Unity in diversity provides an opportunity for all."

"The experience has been very interesting and one that I have enjoyed. The exhibition is a good opportunity for the public to learn about other religions apart from their own. It's wonderful when young people pick up leaflets or information that might not be easily available to them."

"This exhibition has provided a good opportunity to people young and old to learn something about the work of the Council of Faiths. I spoke to four people this afternoon who were interested to collect leaflets from each faith and asked question about the faiths. They all state the experience is very positive. I have also met some of the other friends who were helping at this exhibition and found the conversations interesting and educational."

"Well done Leicester Council [sic] for providing a multi faith exhibition of high standard to promote a better understanding of varied faiths in the city of Leicester."

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