Rachel Brown, Diversity and Inclusion Manager at the NHSBSA, and Mr Singh at the Gurdwara Singh Sabha in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Hi, I’m Rachel, diversity and inclusion manager here at the NHSBSA.

In this blog I’m focusing on Inter Faith Week 2018; a week to focus on inter faith understanding and cooperation. If you’re not familiar, the week is celebrated across England, Northern Ireland and Wales beginning on Remembrance Sunday, and running until the following Sunday.

As a business, we’re supporting this initiative to enable our employees and their networks to build good, working partnerships between different faiths and beliefs. It’s important that we raise awareness, respect and educate one another, and bring everyone together to share their wonderful diverse experiences.

Having this special week provides a focal point, helping to open inter faith activity to a wider audience so that more people are able to participate in it.

 

There are three aims of the week:

  • Strengthening good inter faith relations at all levels
  • Increasing awareness of the different and distinct faith communities in the UK, in particular celebrating and building on the contribution which their members make to their neighbourhoods and to wider society
  • Increasing understanding between people of religious and non-religious beliefs.

 

Out and about

On Wednesday I visited my local church in the Diocese of Durham. The church has changed over the years and offers more varied services than the standard Sunday service. But some things never change: the church is still a quiet place of reflection. This week there has been additional quiet, prayer and interest sessions with a display in recognition of 100 years since the end of the First World War.

Along with a Community Advocate, Mehrban Sadiq, who is of Muslim faith, I visited the Gurdwara Singh Sabha in the west end of Newcastle. The visit provided us with insight into the Sikh faith and the purpose of a Gurdwara which has three main functions. One is ‘Kirtan’ which is the singing of hymns from the Guru Granth Sahib. The second is ‘Katha’ which is reading of the Guru Granth Sahib and explanations. The third main function is the ‘Langar’ which is a free community kitchen for all visitors of all religions. The Gurdwara has a very welcoming environment and truly has an ‘interfaith’ inclusivity.

Back at the office, we’ve been increasing awareness of the distinct and different faiths our colleagues follow at the NHSBSA. Some of our colleagues have also kindly shared their own stories about their faith.

 

Lauren Matthews, Team Member, NHS Prescription Services

I follow Germanic (Norse/Anglo-Saxon) paganism. We try to recreate historic practices while adapting them to the modern world. We worship a number of gods, including Odin the Allfather, Thor the thunder god, Freya the goddess of love, and Loki the trickster god (you may have heard these names in the Thor films!)

Stories of the gods have been passed down in texts such as the Prose and Poetic Eddas, a collection of ancient Icelandic literature.

We use these stories as a guideline for our lives. We aim to act with respect, valour, and honour at all times, and celebrate festivals which mark the passing of the seasons; Yule and Ostara were incorporated into Christmas and Easter, which has the unexpected bonus of making it fairly easy to celebrate with my family.

Paganism brings stability and order to my life, which has been pretty chaotic in the past! I take comfort in feeling a connection with the gods. My relationship with them is more like family, albeit with a great deal of respect.

I set up a Pagan Society when I was at university, and through this, I found a local pagan group which I still meet to celebrate the festivals; thus my faith has helped me make friends and feel part of a wider community.

 

Samirah Ali, Team Member, NHS Prescription Services

Islam is a monotheistic faith. The entire belief system Islam has to offer is derived from a primary and secondary source; the Qur’an and prophetic transmissions respectively.

The Qur’an is perceived to be the final revelation from God and confirms the traditions of all the previous ambassadors (prophets) that God selected to remind humanity why we are temporarily residing on Earth.

Islamic belief states that every prophet – from Adam to Jesus – propagated the same fundamental principles and that Muhammad was the final messenger of God.

Muhammad was an unlettered individual who had no formal education.

The Qur’an remains unchanged in 2018 and is exactly the same as it was more than 1,400 years ago.

The information it contains had to be applicable to all eras. The past, present and the future; as God describes himself as all-knowing and omnipresent.

Islam is simply a code of life. One is instructed how to live their own lives from cradle to grave.

Its teachings are such that society as a whole is safeguarded from any misfortune of one’s personal misdemeanours and much emphasis is placed on selfless acts of virtuous deeds to not only benefit one’s self but humanity at large.

 

For more information about Faith Inclusion at the NHSBSA or any other aspect of Diversity and Inclusion, please contact Rachel Brown directly: rachel.brown51@nhs.net.

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