Phil Champain, 3FF Director

During the past month, we have witnessed extreme violence in Manchester and London and the horrific fire at Grenfell Tower. The general election in June resulted in a political shift away from the austerity politics of Theresa May’s government towards a resurgent Labour left under Jeremy Corbyn. Uncertainty continues to prevail over Brexit. The youth vote was significant rather than understated.

The Queen’s speech included the setting up of a commission to review counter extremism legislation. This will presumably dovetail with the long-awaited response to the Casey Review on integration and questions relating to faith communities and interfaith dialogue. We plan to feed into this commission.

Overall, we will play our part in working with people of different faiths, beliefs and identities to keep spaces open for dialogue at a time when there are significant pressures closing down these spaces and exacerbating divides.

The fallout from the Grenfell Tower fire is being felt in Camden and the Camden Community. The Council has taken the swift and arguably brave decision to evacuate residents of Calcots Estate where flats have similar cladding to that which caused the horrific fire at Grenfell Tower. It is important we work with the Council to find ways of improving the long-term safety of residents. One way is for faith leaders and communities to contribute to Camden’s Cohesion Plan.

Brexit continues to divide, despite the Archbishop’s call for a cross party commission that would ‘draw poison’ out of negotiations. Migration and economic security will continue to be priority concerns and it will be important to continue to offer platforms for dialogue between people of different faiths, beliefs and identities on these issues.

Overall, we will play our part in working with people of different faiths, beliefs and identities to keep spaces open for dialogue at a time when there are significant pressures closing down these spaces and exacerbating divides.

The increased turnout of the under 25s during the election resonates with our focus on youth. Our ParliaMentors programme is deepening and extending its reach with improved social action and a growing and more vocal Alumni network.

There is increasing fear and rising hate crime in the wake of the terrorist attacks, and growing anger at the consequences for the poor of local authority cost cutting. Despite the outpourings of goodwill and calls for unity following each horrific incident these past few months, further incidents may heighten community unrest further. We must play our part in offering opportunities for solutions to be found through dialogue.

We remain committed to the long game and to preparing the next generation for the complexities involved in navigating relations between people of different faiths, beliefs and identities.

In this regard, the increased turnout of the under 25s during the election resonates with our focus on youth. Our ParliaMentors programme is deepening and extending its reach with improved social action and a growing and more vocal Alumni network. Our new pilot with 16-18 year olds (Amplify) is going well, and we have significantly expanded our schools’ operation in the West Midlands and aim to further consolidate our presence out of London.

It is important to celebrate what can be achieved through working together across different faiths and beliefs. Our choir, the Mixed-Up Chorus provides an example of this celebration on 2nd July when they perform ‘Singing Our Lives’, a new musical composition. This composition proclaims, against the turbulence of the last month, ‘May we know ourselves with clarity, celebrate our shared humanity.’ Very fitting.