Monday, 19 November, 2012

To mark Inter Faith Week which starts on 19 November we interviewed Sarah Turner, our voluntary Faith Intern, to find out why she’s involved in HMDT and see what advice she has to offer to those involved in faith and interfaith wishing to mark HMD.

What inspired you to become involved in interfaith work?

I’ve always had an interest in people who hold different faith beliefs, and ultimately how people of faiths can work together to promote a greater good, irrespective of the different beliefs that they may hold. I believe that people of faith have core ideals to achieve an understanding and tolerant society. The theme for 2013, Communities Together: Build a Bridge is the perfect opportunity for people of faith to get involved in marking HMD in their communities, by celebrating how those who hold differing faith beliefs can work together in their neighbourhoods and wider society.

What work have you been doing with HMDT?

As well as looking at the different faith resources that HMDT have and assessing their suitability for interfaith, I’ve been in contact with local and national faith and interfaith organisations to discover how HMDT can best support them in their preparations for HMD. This means that our present and future resources can be adapted to suit their needs.

Feedback so far has been really useful. I’ve found that some audiences aren’t aware of the range of HMDT resources available, while others have expressed more specific interest in the availability of visual materials. All feedback is really useful and is helping me to deliver my resource.

I hope to make it as simple as possible for faith and interfaith organisations to take part in HMD, and I would love for anyone involved in faith or interfaith work reading this to get in touch with your thoughts! You can email me at faith.intern@hmd.org.uk or call the Trust on 020 7785 7029.

Can you tell me about the factsheet that you’re creating for faith and interfaith audiences?

The factsheet is a tailored resource which will act as a guide to those who are involved in faith and interfaith by providing advice and suggestions for practical activities to help make planning for HMD simple and easy. The factsheet will also help those who hold no specific faiths beliefs, yet are interested in working with people of faith for HMD.

Have you got any plans this year to mark Inter Faith Week?

I am based in the Midlands myself and I plan to attend a few activities in my local area. One of the activities is taking place at a local interfaith organisation; the other at a University. I will also be looking at the wider picture of what kinds of activities are taking place throughout the UK during interfaith week.

What advice can you give to faith and interfaith groups about running activities for Holocaust Memorial Day?

I think the most important advice is to not feel pressured to hold a massive activity to mark HMD. An easy to organise HMD activity could be a discussion where people of different faiths in your group discuss how they might have been discriminated against at different points in history, simply because of the beliefs or faiths that they hold. This can be related specifically to experiences of different groups during the Holocaust and subsequent genocides. Given that many organisations are restricted in time as well as money, it should be emphasised that small activities can be as moving and worthwhile as those produced on a large scale. Also, make the most out of HMDT as they are here to help your with planning. All resources are free and can be ordered now. From the Campaign Pack containing posters, to handout materials which can be ordered in quantities of 50, through to presentations, images, films and liturgical readings. The HMDT Team are also always on hand for a chat if you’re stuck for inspiration!

At your activity perhaps try and include at least one representative from a variety of faiths either as invitees or contributors. For 2013, the theme Communities Together: Build a Bridge is the perfect opportunity for neighbouring faiths to not only gain a greater understanding of each other, but work together, by perhaps sharing stories to help create a safer future.

For HMD 2012 the Council of Christians and Jews in Norfolk invited members from the Norwich Synagogue, as well as members from the Christian community in North Norfolk which included Anglicans, Roman Catholics, Methodists, Quakers and others as well as those who held no faith beliefs. They began in the Parish Church with the Sch’ma Israel, where they held a small service. The service included relevant readings from the scriptures and literature; some of which represented the different groups which the Nazis singled out for persecution. It’s important to make your activity relevant to the faiths involved in your group. Referring to the faith and interfaith factsheet that I’m developing will provide a framework to help you in the planning process.

You can find out more about Inter Faith Week 2012