Thursday, 25 November 2010

National Inter Faith Week: day 5

Sir Peter Soulsby MP drops in on our exhibition today for half an hour this afternoon. We take the opportunity to show him around the display, chat about some issues and ideas arising from it and some of those on the stall are able to talk with him at some length. Sir Peter expressed particular interest in how the exhibition might be put to good use around the city throughout the year. Hhe wrote this at the end of his visit:
"A wonderful display - Leicester and its faith communities at their best and, as always, at the heart of our city. Well done to the Council of Faiths - long may you continue with your excellent work successfully promoting dialogue and understanding."
Here are some of the comments left in the reflective journal by some of the volunteers who fronted the exhibition today:

"Unique exhibition and celebration of One Leicester. Thanks to all the members and volunteers of Leicester Council of Faiths for the great passion and commitment for the city of Leicester. Leicester Council of Faiths promotes trust, understanding, respect and harmony among the faith communities and no-faith communities. Inter Faith Week is a recognition of our work for the city. Faith is an integral part of Community Cohesion. Leicester is a great multi-cultural and tolerant city. Well done to all and keep up the good work."

"The exhibition went very well,. The stall raised awareness of the event and of all the different faith groups in the city. People from all backgrounds from the public took interest in the exhibition."

"Just had a chat with a young woman who hopes to study theology next year. She took all the leaflets and thanked me, so it works!"

"A young student wanted to speak to George about the Jewish religion. I said I was probably (1) qualified as a stand-in - his concern however was about Israel. We had a long discussion in which I tried to get him to see both sides but he was full of propaganda and misinformation, saying he admired Hitler! He wouldn't tell me his name or country of origin. He's a student in the university. We parted on good terms and he told me he was Ibrahim from Saudi Arabia."

"I'd been on the stall for about an hour and I was just thinking, 'I'll be a bit disappointed if I don't get to engage with anyone about the stall' when Kirti returned with a couple of homeless people she's been working with on her play (about homelessness, with homeless actors). the lady of the couple, a Spiritualist, began to inform me about a whole collection of people (from the spirit world) who apparently knew me. She told me lots of things that they were telling her about me, none of which seemed to be accurate! It was an interesting experience."

"I enjoyed my time at the multi faith stall. I came across people from all walks of life and different faiths. It was interesting as I spoke with many people. I will certainly stand on the stall again."

"A wide variety of people walked past the stand, some on their way home from work, others shopping and loaded down with Christmas present. Many people stopped to look at the boards and these included a group of young people who stood by a shop window pretending not to be reading the information before coming closer to find out more when they heard Facebook and Twitter mentioned. Others who stopped to chat included a Highcross worker who had passed the stall most of the day and a uni student studying social cohesion. A very interesting group of people to meet."

"On the face of it, not a great deal of response, i.e. few people picked up leaflets or accepted them when offered, but this in my view was because they had come to do shopping, including window shopping and several passed by more than twice. However most did glanc3 at the display, some paused while talking on a mobile phone. Highcross staff always said 'Hello' and a few did ask what we were doing. I was surprised how few (hardly any) people I knew, although many more late teens / early 20s i.e. students who would be at the universities. I would have been recognised by more people who would have stopped to chat if this exhibition was in a part of Leicester where I was better known, I also think apart from the students a lot of people come to Highcross from out of town. But very few people would have walked past and completely ignored the faith names in large capitals on the display boards."

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