It’s not worth voting! – True or False?
With this question open for discussion 14 people from 3 different faith communities within the city of Bristol sat down together to talk about being involved in politics in the run up to the General Election.
At the meeting, organized by the Bristol Multi Faith Forum, on the 16th April 2015, people from Baha’i, Christian and Muslim communities within the city were asked to share their experience of speaking up and taking action to make a difference in social and political issues.
Temples, churches, mosques, synagogues, gurdwaras, meeting houses and faith based community projects throughout the city are places where people gather, bring their concerns and challenges and think together about how they can make a contribution to society. Listening to the concerns and issues of their people a faith community can work out how to make a positive contribution to the quality of life of its neighbourhood. An audit of the activities of the faith communities in Bristol in 2011 found that communities were involved in projects addressing issues of supporting education, care for people with ill health or increasing frailty, local food projects, crime prevention, providing places for social gathering and overcoming isolation, support in situations of poverty, crisis, addiction or mental ill health, youth work, local arts and music and much more. Indeed, involvement with such a large and diverse number of people and projects means that the faith communities of our city gather an insight into the issues that affect many people in the daily life of our society.
When we met to talk about the General Election members of the Multi Faith Forum were unanimous in believing that we should see voting as a social responsibility and encourage all people to use their vote. There were many issues we’d identify as important, including, better provision of low cost and social housing and regulation of rents in the private sector. We’d like to see a review of the ways in which we speak of and treat people who are refugees and asylum seekers in the UK as well as encouraging our government to engage constructively with the countries, situations and issues that cause people to leave their home countries and regions to help resolve conflict and need there. We talked about needing the next government to listen to the voices of people in our rich and diverse society, recognizing and valuing the insights, contributions and work of the many and encouraging the growth of a renewed sense of personal investment in inclusive community.
As people from faith communities we are ready and equipped to share in and support communities in so many ways. We’d ask the candidates for election, and our incoming Members of Parliament, to engage with us, see us as partners in building a strong, peaceful and positive society for all.
BMFF April 17th 2015