Opening speeches to a packed main hall

Opening speeches to a packed main hall

Some 300 people of different faiths, beliefs and cultures came together during National Interfaith Week to interact and engage with topical issues at the first London Interfaith Summit on 17 November.

Run by alumni of 3FF’s ParliaMentors programme, it was an event by young leaders for young leaders, with plenty of opportunities to connect and explore ways to create positive change together. Third sector experts, NGOs and academics led interactive sessions and talks for members of the public on topics such as gender, power, politics and migration.

Theatre workshop run by MUJU

Theatre workshop run by MUJU

Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Jewish and Sikh music acts created a festival-style atmosphere as people met and took part in sessions which created an open forum for discussing belief, such as ‘Speed-Faithing’ where participants learned about each other’s backgrounds in just 60 seconds. Muslim-Jewish theatre group MUJU held popular workshops which mixed challenging questions on faith and identity with games and laughter.

Keynote speakers Baroness Williams of Trafford and Krish Raval delivered speeches highlighting the potential leaders from different faiths and cultures have to challenge injustice and move society in a more positive direction.

One of the music acts at the Summit

One of the music acts at the Summit

Communities Minister Baroness Williams said: “Seeing so many people come together, who want to discuss, learn, and debate, shows that there is a real appetite for faith to be a core part of public life. And the fact that six young people from ParliaMentors have organised such an impressive event is truly inspiring.”

Hashim Bhatti, one of the summit organisers, said: “Our cities and towns are becoming increasingly culturally diverse, which means that we need to understand each other much better in order for society to flourish. In our opinion, the kind of face to face dialogue we have seen at the summit beats anything else because it helps break down barriers and build better relations between people.”

Engaging discussions at a World Cafe session

Engaging discussions at a World Cafe session

Summit co-organiser Anna Connell-Smith said: “We didn’t want the event to be a conference where people are told what they should believe in or what they should be doing. Instead, we wanted the summit to be interactive and inclusive. We hope people have had their preconceptions challenged, gained new insights and left feeling inspired to create positive change.”

The Interfaith Summit was kindly supported by Pears Foundation.

More photos from the Interfaith Summit are available here.