Summary of NIFF activities from the Chair – William Duncan July 2017 to end-February 2018
4th July, NIFF AGM took place at The Market Sanctuary. 5th July, I attended the annual National Meeting of the Inter Faith Network for the UK, held in London. It was their 30th anniversary meeting. I participated in a discussion group and spoke about NIFF’s activities including the Crane (Hate Crime) Project. As a follow-up, I contributed to IFN’s Report. 9th July, I attended the Mayoral Service at All Saints’ Church, Northampton, and representing NIFF, made a short speech and led part of the Service, namely the Act of Commitment and a prayer. 11th July, I took part in the Srebrenica Memorial Day civic commemoration at The Courtyard, Guildhall, and gave a speech on behalf of NIFF to honour the victims and survivors of the genocide in 1995. 30th July, I attended the Mela (community festival) in Beckets Park where NIFF had a table and display. It was a successful day and should be repeated. 19th – 20th August, I assisted with the set up of the NIFF marquee and attendance at the annual Umbrella Fair, Racecourse, Northampton. As in previous years, there were colourful displays representing each faith group plus a display for the Crane (Hate Crime) Project, with paper cranes, a symbol of peace. Also, this year, we were pleased to have representatives of The Market Sanctuary and, one more activity, Sikh Turban-making demonstrations that proved very popular. Thank you all who helped at the Fair to promote the work of NIFF, welcome visitors and answer questions. Unfortunately, there was a serious problem of noise from a nearby marquee but we have been assured that this will not recur in August 2018. 4th September, NIFF Committee Meeting took place at The Market Sanctuary. 9th September, I attended the Open Day event at the Al-Jamatul Mosque. It was well attended and visitors were made very welcome. 24th September, I assisted with the set up and attendance, representing NIFF, at the Mind, Body & Spirit Day at Beckets Park. A successful first-time event that deserves to be repeated. – 2nd – 26th September, I met Imran Chowdhury to discuss a proposal for a NIFF event at the Bangladeshi Gateway Centre. 27th September, along with other NIFF Committee Members and faith community representatives, I attended a Community Meeting led by Chief Inspector Lara Alexander-Lloyd at the Police HQ, Wootton, to discuss issues of concern in Northampton. Follow-up meetings were suggested.
9th October, I joined a Working Party Group meeting in Northampton to take forward a project to produce a NIFF Walk Guide publication, and to apply for funding. 14th October, I joined the Diwali Lights celebrations and procession through Northampton town. Thanks are due to the Hindu community. NIFF had a stall in the Market Square with a focus on Hate Crime Week (14th to 20th). 16th October, NIFF Committee Meeting took place at The Market Sanctuary. 18th October, I attended the Northampton Forum’s Tea Party in The Guildhall where there was a variety of interesting displays and presentations, including NIFF and Hate Crime, followed by some useful networking. 19th October, I attended the “Supper with the Chief Constable” event at Wootton Hall at which NIFF had a display, alongside displays from other organisations. Hassan Shah gave a moving talk about Hate Crime. Useful networking followed. 22nd October, I attended a dinner in Kettering to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Bah’u’llah, the founder of the Baha’i faith. A joyful event, thanks to the Baha’i community. Other NIFF members joined the Bicentenary Dinner in Northampton. 8th November, I attended, in Wellingborough, the Northamptonshire Resilience Forum Faith Groups Meeting. The organisers would like NIFF members to become trained volunteers to be on call in case a major disaster should occur in Northamptonshire. A similar meeting will take place in Northampton (location TBA) on Thursday 5th April, 10am – 12noon. NIFF members will be welcome. 12th November, I joined the procession with the Mayor, Gareth Eales, to the Remembrance Service at All Saints’ Church and, on behalf of NIFF, made a speech to honour those who were killed or who suffered in both world wars and more recent conflicts, and gave a Buddhist prayer for peace and harmony. In the evening, I joined the Sikhs and other NIFF members for the Langar Seva in Abington Street.
14th November, I joined other NIFF Committee Members at The Dining Room, Northampton, for a farewell event to thank Ted Hales for all his work and guidance. We recognised his significant role in the development of NIFF. 16th November, I attended the Mayor’s Parlour for tea, with other NIFF members. The Mayor expressed his appreciation of NIFF’s support. 17th November, I attended, along with other Committee Members, a NIFF stall in the Market Square to promote awareness of NIFF. Unfortunately, this was not a success and so we moved to an exhibition room in the Grosvenor Centre but footfall was disappointingly low. 19th November, in the morning I attended a meeting with Abade Ahmed and a team of film-makers at The Quaker House. They are making a DVD to campaign against FGM. I was interviewed and made a statement on behalf of NIFF that was filmed for this purpose. In the afternoon, I joined the NIFF Inter Faith Walk in Northampton, kindly guided by John Small. It included visiting three places of worship. This was another interesting and uplifting experience; in particular, the welcome and talk at the Shia Mosque was appreciated and enjoyed by all. 25th November, I attended The Market Sanctuary Suicide Awareness Workshop, delivered by the SCCYC and The Samaritans. This was an enlightening event with strong emotional inputs from two participants who had attempted suicide. A follow-up event is needed. 27th November, NIFF Committee Meeting took place at The Market Sanctuary.
1 st December, I attended a follow-up meeting with Abade Ahmed and others at The Quaker House for a first viewing of some of the film campaigning against FGM. This was the culmination of many months of work. The result so far is very professional and powerful in its message. December/January: in China for five weeks. 2018 13th January, I attended the filming of children from five different faiths at The Market Sanctuary. This project is being led by Nisha Mejer. The film will form part of a NIFF educational pack with DVD for distribution to schools. 15th January, NIFF Committee Meeting took place at The Market Sanctuary.
24th January, I attended the Holocaust Memorial Day event at The Guildhall and, on behalf of NIFF, delivered a speech as part of the programme to remember the victims not only of the Holocaust in the Second World War but also of the genocides since then, and to consider the causes. 12th February, I participated, together with other NIFF committee members, in a Faiths Group Meeting at Kings Park Conference Centre, hosted by the Lord Lieutenant, David Laing. The event focused on current issues of concern in Northampton. These were discussed through lively workshop sessions and feedback, followed by a light buffet and networking. A report summarising the issues raised and how Northampton’s faith communities are dealing with them is being produced by the Lord Lieutenant’s deputies. I shall circulate the report to NIFF Committee members as soon as it becomes available. 16th February, representing NIFF, I attended the opening ceremony of a new Mosque in Daventry, hosted by the Daventry Muslim Association. It was well attended by various religious leaders. The Imam, Badar ul Islam, delivered a speech in which he highlighted the importance of interfaith peace and coexistence. 18th February, I attended the Annual Holocaust Memorial Lecture at the Northampton Synagogue. An excellent lecture was given by Dr Joe Mulhall from the Hope not Hate organisation on “The importance of memorialisation and remembering in the face of denial”. An interesting discussion followed. Hope not Hate is an advocacy group that campaigns to counter racism and fascism: see www.hopenothate.org.uk Thank you all for your continuing support. William Duncan PS Throughout 2017 and so far in 2018, I have also been serving on the committee of the Kettering Inter Faith Forum and attending the Forum’s events in Kettering. –