News

  • Bristol FGM Initiative

    An event has been held in Bristol to highlight work being done in the city to combat the practice of Female Genital Mutilation. The Communities Minister, Stephen Williams attended the event, held on Sunday 13th July at Easton Community Centre, Kilburn Street, Easton. This event is a forerunner to the Girls Summit being held later in the month by Prime Minster David Cameron, as part of a high profile campaign against FGM and Forced Marriage. To see a photo gallery of the event click here.

  • Health Awareness Day 2014

    Our third successful Health Awareness Day was held at The City Academy in Bristol, on Sunday 28th September. This year we had about 120 people attending, with over 120 children participating in the athletics activities. We will bring you more information in the near future, but we just wanted to share some photos and some initial thoughts with you. It was a free, fun, informative, interactive family event, that was open to all, with speakers, workshops, information stalls, children’s activities, henna, arts and crafts, raffle, performances, sports activities and food. It was an opportunity to learn about Health and Wellbeing, have free health checks, find out how to access health services and discover more about prevention. There was information on general health issues, as well as those that particularly impact on BME Communities and all activities aimed to respect diverse faiths and cultural sensitivities. The aim was to bring together a variety of Bristol’s health service providers as part of a fun and engaging event, to make them more accessible to the City’s diverse communities.

    The day started with opening remarks from The Rt. Hon. The Lord Mayor of Bristol, Councillor Alistair Watson and Peaches Golding, former High Sheriff of Bristol. The Lord Mayor talked about the importance of bringing diverse communities together to raise awareness of health issues and ensure all communities access health services. Peaches Golding talked about ‘three responsibilities’; to look after ourselves and find out all the information we can about good health; to our communities – family, faith community, neighbours – to share what we learn and help others to be healthy, and the third is to sustainability and the creating of healthy communities and spaces.

    Many thanks to our partners TravelWest, Rethink, Inner City Health Improvement Team and Avon Indian Community Association. Also thanks to the City Academy for the great venue and all those who helped out.

    See our selection of photos taken on the day here.

  • July 2014 News Magazine

    Our latest news magazine is available to read online or to download. It contains articles on all our latest projects. In this month’s edition there are articles on the Blood and Organ Donation Campaign, Diverse Doors Walk, a Sikh community parade, a write-up of our successful Peace Event with CND veteran Bruce Kent and an article on prostate cancer. If you would like to submit an article for consideration for future editions, then please contact us at info@bristolmultifaithforum.org.uk or 07834812663 (mobile).

    Please click here.

  • The Blood and Organ Donation Campaign Legacy

    The Lord Mayor for Bristol (2013 – 2014) Cllr Faruk Choudhury selected the Blood and Organ Donation Campaign as his special project for his year of office. In particular, the Lord Mayor’s aim was to raise awareness and increase blood and transplant donation in Bristol with a particular focus on those groups who are under-represented in the donation service, and whose community members have to wait longer for transplants.

    Bristol Multi-Faith Forum has supported the Campaign since its launch in 2013.

    On 4th June 2014 a partnership agreement was signed between Bristol City Council and NHS Blood and Transplant. This is the legacy of the campaign – a formal agreement to continue with this vital work.

    To read a copy of the Campaign Report click here.

    To see a photo gallery of the signing of the partnership agreement on 4th June click here.

  • Diverse Doors Open Day Feb 2013

    The day started with a buzz, meeting happy people to board on the trail bus. Those who booked on the trail were met at 162 Pennywell Road.  The trail bus was full and 5 others were following the trail in their own transport or sharing a car.

    At each venue everyone felt welcomed and were put at ease to ask questions. At each venue refreshments were available. One participant commented on the evaluation form ‘Not quite sure what is meant by ‘Access’. everyone in each venue “places of Worship” were inviting, friendly and welcoming which made me question myself as to why my behaviour in my own place of worship’. The Lord Mayor and the Lord Mayor Elect joined the trail party at St Marks Road Mosque, The Bristol Sikh Temple at Fishponds and at the St Nicholas Church. Due to a prior engagement The Lord Mayor was not able to Join us at the Hindu Temple and the Bahai  Centre.

    At each trail venue a talk was delivered on ‘faith in time of Austerity’. The common thread was inevitable in that all faiths have means of coping through bad times and always grateful for good times and accepting it with humility.

    At St Nicholas Church we learnt how one can be proactive in preventing hardship and influencing various bodies to ease suffering in time of Austerity or those in poverty at any time. This was quite a contrast with other faith communities though perhaps not surprising as Black and minorities ethnic communities hardly participate in any consultations. There is perhaps scope for a better and constructive contribution to be made by minority faith communities in influencing policies that support the vulnerable in our society.

    A few Faith places that were not on the trail reported back and confirmed it was a good day. The 2 synagogues were opened for a shorter period due to the start of a festival later that afternoon.

    The Quran Academy had opened their door a week before and on the evening of 25th Feb. it was not possible to open their doors on 24th Feb due to classes.

    It was noticeable a number of Muslims visited places of worship other than their own. We are also aware at least one Hindu female visited the Bahai Centre and the Church on the trail. In the previous years it was noticeable only British White Christians, seculars, Bahai and Jewish community visited other places of worship. The Majority of these represent mainly white British or other whites.

    Most visitors were able to interact with both females and males in all faith places except in the Mosques. For example the visitors were welcomed and served food by both male and female members at the Sikh Temple , Hindu Temple, Bahai Centre and at the church.

    One suggestion we would make to mosques is to encourage their women to come to Mosques and meet people. It would be acceptable for Muslim women to just meet female visitors should they not want to be in mixed company. One of the purposes of Diverse Doors Open Doors is to understand the spiritual and cultural  etiquette which go a long way in understanding diversity.

    As at 6th March we were given estimated numbers by 6 faith places. The total from those reported is 216. The total including those on the trail is 237.

    Those on the trail visited 5 different places totalling 105 visits. We don’t know the number reported by other faith places visiting more than one place or not. It is likely they visited more than one place.

     

    The development worker at each place made a note of ‘perceived ethnicity’ and of faiths if she was certain. We know  5 (Asian) Muslim excluding Lord Mayor Elect men visited the Sikh Temple, Hindu Temple,1 (Asian) Muslim male visited Sikh temple Hindu temple, Christian Church and The Bahai centre and One Hindu (Asian) visited the Bahai centre and the Christian church.

    There were 7Asians in appearance, 4 Africans / Afro Caribbean and the majority were white in appearance attending the talk at QAB.

  • AGM and Conference ‘Disability and Accessibility’

    On a damp and windswept evening early in November the Bristol Multi Faith Forum opened the doors of theUnitarian Chapel on Brunswick Square to welcome people to its Annual General Meeting. With members of the major faith groups in the city present along with representatives of the City
    Council, the LGBT Forum and Disability Forum, the meeting received the annual reports, noting the growth in the Forum’s network of contacts and
    the broadening of the engagement of different faith communities with each other and with the city over the year. Tribute was paid to the BMFF
    Development Worker whose commitment to the work of the Forum has enriched its life and enabled more ambitious projects.

    Concluding the business of the meeting we turned to consider issues of access and enabling participation for people with disabilities – in the buildings and practices of faith communities. In an informal and informative presentation the Forum heard of some of the issues and frustrations of people with physical impairments when encountering doorways, steps, toilet facilities. With the services of an interpreter we ‘heard’ the frustrations of a profoundly deaf person who longed to contribute to her community’s thinking and development and challenged community leaders to find volunteers to learn British Sign Language who could enable communications.
    Another attendee was blind and highlighted the ways in which a partially or non sighted person could need the thought and understanding of their community in order to take a full and active part in its life. Another spoke of the issues arising for a parent of a disabled child in accessing a faith community building where she and the child could participate in worship and activities. It was good to hear first hand experiences and be challenged to think, to be aware and to make the often small changes that can make a big difference. All of our faith traditions aim to encourage
    people into the worship and life of the community and the conclusion of the meeting was that we are all rightly challenged to listen to the need of people with disabilities to enable their full participation. It was an inspiring discussion and sharing it across our diverse communities was a healthy beginning towards change and inclusion.
    Tracey Lewis

  • BMFF ‘Health Awareness Day’

    Health Awareness Day 21 Oct 2012

    The event was organised in partnership with NHS Bristol and supported by the Sikh Resource Centre, The Dialogue Society, Bristol Refugees Women. The deal was BMFF to pay for activities and NHS Bristol to pay for the hire. The group supporting the event had to bring minimum of 5 women each from their respective groups and make a contribution to food. BMFF was to provide plates and soft drinks.

    We had over 50 women.

    The women were from following backgrounds :

    Somali Muslims

    African Muslims and Christians

    Turkish Muslims

    Tajik Muslim

    White British Muslims (converts)

    Indian Sikhs

    Indian Hindu

    White British

    NHS Bristol were able to do health checks on 13 women.

    Children enjoyed indoor athletics and got the taste of exercise. Women participated in 20 minutes aerobic exercise and showed much interest. Many of them clearly showed an interest in attending regular session.

  • Responsible Health Care and Organ Donation

     Sharing Life, Preparing for Death – Responsible Health Care and Organ Donation

    Feedback from the break-out sessions by table

    1. Practical and Pastoral Issues

    We looked at the very worrying BME stats whereby BME people are 25% of waiting lists for donors, have far higher refusal rates, wait longer, have higher failure rates.

    How best to disseminate information about organ donation etc to our communities?

    • When they’re young, without frightening them, making it ok to talk about death
    • in Secondary schools
    • Tell people they can register online, via smartphone app, Facebook, Twitter
    • Via sermons in houses of worship – need to educate imams, priests, rabbis etc so that everyone is confident to deliver an accurate and useful message. Nota ser to convince people what they must do but to encourage them to look into it, and work out what they would want done one day. So many congregants lack knowledge of whether it’s even allowed in their faith or not, so this would help them make an informed choice.
    • Via community groups, youth groups, health groups, football, corner shops, supermarkets

    BMFF could offer organ donation as a sermon topic so that faith leaders can address it, ideally all in the same week or month.  However, Muslim and other faith leaders would first need to discuss it among themselves, as a variety of theological interpretations do exist. Faith leader pronouncements can help and can also be damaging so this needs to be done with care. Goal: to enable people to enquire and make their own decisions.

    We need to know the actual stats here in Bristol for BME (Afro-Caribbean and South Asian) people waiting for a kidney donor, on dialysis etc.

    How do we prompt these health message conversations (not pre-prepared solutions)?

    • Best way is to use existing, strong community networks
    • For example, if Mr Mukhtyar Singh, recipient of a kidney transplant, were to tell his story, it would open up the topic so that people could make their own choice.
    • Sikh Channel on TV is very influential for that community

    Call to action: how can we individually and collectively promote these informed conversations?

    Action: Mukhtyar to organise a meeting to discuss this and get debate going about how to get these messages started in the communities.

    1. How to help people with end of life decisions

    This requires education, starting with young children, don’t be afraid to discuss

    Conversations about this need to be timely/early, i.e. not in times of crisis

    We want people to feel equipped to make the decision within their own family

    Need to release people to enquire about their own tradition

    many assumptions about death and dying are culturally, not scripturally, based

    Hesitancy regarding organ donation, we just don’t know whether our faith allows it. Well before moment of heart stopping. No compulsion that everyone should give their entire bodies.

    Need to consult with people, inform people and see their wishes as sacred.

    Some people may have the issue that they may wish to donate but it is clinically not possible.

    1. Spiritual Journey and what death means from a faith perspective

    What is chaplaincy?

    • Ministry and support at point of need, listening, being alongside people
    • Let them share their own spiritual biography (chaplains cannot access their faith data from intake forms). Wait for family to tell us their religion.
    • Absolutely no proselytising.

     

    Nurses

    • Many seem to have very little or no faith-related knowledge including the specific needs of various groups e.g. Rastafarian patients
    • Some did not know about how the chaplaincy operates, or whether/when services happen

     

    Chapels in hospitals or hospices
    • Have largely been replaced by multifaith spaces of sanctuary
    • People of any faith or none, may find comfort in a quiet space that is set aside for this purpose
    Privacy/dignity as death approaches
    • ICU has adapted, make a point of stepping back to allow families to come forward
    • Inappropriateness of conducting end of life rituals in an open ward where priest as well as large number of family may come together
    • Can private rooms be used? Often reserved for those with infectious diseases rather than nearness of death

     

    • When someone is dying, they undertake a spiritual life passage/journey
    • It’s a very precious and charged time, emotions run high
    • A relationship of trust with the medical professionals is key
    • The meaning of death itself varies: an end, a beginning, a cycle, a connection
    • People can gain enriched understanding of the different traditions around this journey through attending interfaith dialogue.

     

    Issues around the next generation(s)

    • Increase of secularity on the one  hand but huge/growing spiritual awareness on the other
    • We need to avoid imposing our own personal faith perspective
    • With younger people, we need a new form of language to explain/help them explore the metaphysical and spiritual aspects of life, e.g. poetry and art, as well as Scriptures
    • Majority of people in prison are of no faith

     

    Hospices
    • Lack of clarity as to who can use them
    • Not for Christians only (but name such as St Peters can be confusing)
    • Some people frightened to go there as they think it’s only to die and not to live

     

    Education

    • Children are never too young to talk about/look at these issues in an appropriate way. One group member mentioned on a recent school visit that 50% of Year Two (age 6 – 7 year olds) knew someone who’d died.
    • Can we make better use of schools to explore the richness of faiths and their broad unity?
    • Discussing death and sense of spirituality
    • Explore with them the meaning of living and of dying: what is a good life? A good death? (this was the topic of an evening seminar conducted by the Bristol Inter Faith Group a few years ago)

    Notes written by Valerie Russell Emmott

     

  • Faith Watch

    Faith Watch can help you: it is based on the idea that formed Neighbourhood Watch and is an opportunity for faith communities in Bristol to work together to communicate any concerns. Faith watch is coordinated and supported by Avon and Somerset Police.

    Neighbourhood watch began back in 1982 and is based in a street or number of streets. Faith communities are often dotted across the city.


    Faith watch aims:

    • To reduce crime and the opportunities for crime
    • To help and reassure the community
    • To encourage neighbourliness and closer communities
    • To communicate with members fo faith watch, making them aware of any incidents that may affect them.

    As part of a Faith Watch group you will find there is a heightened awareness of what is going on in and around your area. Messages are forwarded to watch volunteers to inform them of crime trends, provide public information and to offer crime reduction advice

    The elderly and most vulnerable members of the community feel more secure.

    A community spirit grows within the area.

    Police Community Support Officers and Beat Managers working with faith groups build a closer relationship.

    To find out more, please contact Cliff Spence, Diversity Officer at Avon and Somerset Police (0117 9529720)

  • Actively Peaceful

    The rain held off, the people came and the media captured our joy.

    After a rapid, very short month of sometimes frantic planning and on-the-hoof rethinking of the day, All Together Bristol finally happened and I for one am overjoyed at the result. Thirty-two days after our first forum exploration of what we might do, what we shouldn’t do, and what we — eventually — simply must do, the turnout and the message was just perfect.

    After the day before, when Bristol seemed wracked by fear and conflict, hate and prejudice, the All Together Bristol approach was just right.

    But what actually happened?

    We gathered on Queen Square. Gradually people came together, from a cross the four corners of the square, site of the EDL march the previous day, and kicking off point for our walk to Millennium Square. A platform, a microphone and flowers appeared. People were handed helpers jackets. It’s interesting how people respond to a hi-viz. Immediately the wearer is transformed into a creature ordained with extra powers of knowledge or ability. But, notably, without any hint of the inevitable marshal nature of the police lines from the day before. There: I’ve mentioned it. It’s tricky not to. The EDL effect is invasive and destructive, but there was one good thing about their visit to Bristol: we met on 15th July and showed the city how peace can prevail.

    The media were everywhere. Radio Bristol, ITV, BBC TV, This is Bristol and also The Post. One of our core aims was to get good press coverage. That happened for sure. First items on both ITV and BBC local news. Radio Bristol Sunday morning, thisisbristol.co.uk including a video montage. Depending on who did the counting we were between 300 and 400 people, but thousands more will have seen the full extent and positive power of what we achieved.

    But, again, what actually happened?

    The flowers worked. The walking worked. Walking with flowers worked.

    And, significantly, for about an hour afterwards, as I just hung around the square, there were people talking, groups continuing to share and engage. Amongst the buzz and business of Millennium Square, as it is every summer Sunday afternoon, there was an extra dimension of hopeful imagination. Where we go from here needs to be discerned. That we need to continue to work together needs no thought at all.

    That is what actually happened. We met, we talked, we shared and we saw each other as members of the same group, as people. Of course there are distinguishing features, and there are differences which challenge. But challenge and conflict are entirely different things. Conflict destroys. Challenge builds. On July 15th in Millennium Square we all challenged. We all were challenged: to live together.

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