On 27th October NIFF’s AGM was held at the Synagogue in Northampton. Surendra Malhotra gave her final report as Chair, and handed over to Daniel Tabor.
This is my second AGM as chair of NIFF from the Hindu Faith.
NIFF has members from seven faiths which are :
Bhai, Buddist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish Muslim, Sikh
I will say greeting from each faith:
Allah u abha, Namo Buddyah, Christo anesti, Namaste, Shalom, As salam alaikum, Sat sri akal
Objects of the charity are promotion of religious harmony for the public benefit by:
Promoting knowledge and mutual understanding between different religious groups
Advancing education and raising awareness about different religious groups to promote good relations between persons of different religious groups and working towards elimination of discrimination on the grounds of religion.
As we all know we have been going through challenging times, locally, nationally, and globally, however on reflection NIFF managed to achieve most objectives with a positive attitude since we have been able to meet in person.
NIFF managed to participate in person activities.
I have listed below some of the events NIFF has been involved/participated in.
- Interfaith week – we joined Wellingborough Inter-Faith Forum at the launch of the film
- Holocaust Memorial Day
- Srebrenica Memorial Day
- Remembrance Day
- Jubilee parade and service
- Stall with banner/artefacts at Diwali lights
- Refugee week – stall with artefacts and banner
- Eid stall
- Faith Walk
- Covid 19 Memorial- an afternoon of Reflection
- School assemblies
- Radio interviews
The three main events organised by NIFF were:
Faith walk, I am Human Activity Book school assemblies, Covid 19 Memorial service
a) Faith Walk / Jubilee celebrations
This was in June 2022 we visited five faith places of worship in Northampton town centre area.
We had 36 participants of all ages, faiths, police, councillors join us on this beautiful sunny day. We appreciate all the welcome and hospitality we received from each faith be it bottles of water on arrival or full course lunch. Some worship places arranged to open specially for the faith walkers.
Thanks to all the places of worship we visited for the informative sessions and all the walkers and organisers – this was a successful due to great teamwork by the committee members.
b) School Assemblies
Due to pandemic there were no school assemblies hence this was on hold however we are pleased to say since September 2022 we have started the school assemblies with I am Human Activity Book at primary school for year 3. Till date we have attended three schools and arranged to attend the other 3.
We look forward to the feedback by end of school year.
We have also started specific festival assemblies as requested by school- first one was the Diwali assembly and we had positive feedback from the school and hope to continue with other faith festivals.
Councillor from West Northamptonshire for Education and Children and Families has agreed to provide the I am Human Activity Book to each school in Northampton. As we are not allowed to sell the books, we request a donation of £2 per book.
c) Covid-19 Memorial – An afternoon of Reflection
This was a joint event with Northampton Town council and Northampton Inter Faith Forum to commemorate, reflect and remember those affected by Covid-19.
A Sweet Gum Tree was planted by Northampton Inter Faith Forum in Abington Park Northampton.
All faiths participated in an afternoon of prayers, choir, speeches, hymns, religious dance and dholl drummers to reflect, remember cherish wonderful memories of our loved ones.
Everyone was welcomed to tie a ribbon on the tree with messages for their loved ones.
We have cancelled Zoom subscription now that we are able to have in person meetings.
We have received grant for mental Health workshops days in different communities to include mindfulness etc. To be decided at the committee meeting.
Councillors Fund for various items and QR codes for the banner etc.
A big thanks you to our grant’s subgroup for all their hard work.
I would like to thank the funding and statutory agencies and all the faith communities, and last and not least a big thank you to all the committee members for their continued support and guidance be it cooking food for Hope centre, filling grants applications, providing venues for committee meetings, storage for books, setting up zoom meetings, attending events and the vice chair, treasurer, and the secretary for all their support and hard work.
It has been an honour to serve as chair for the last two years on behalf of the Hindu faith.
I’m honoured and pleased to say I am handing the chair to Daniel Tabor from the Jewish faith and can say Daniel will full fill the role of chair with integrity and my good wishes and sure all the committee members will be there to support Daniel.
Thanks to Michael Necus and Linda for kindly providing the venue for the AGM and the refreshments for tonight.
New Chair’s statement
Good evening, everyone. It is great to see so many friends here tonight, supporting the work of NIFF.
It is my great pleasure to start by paying tribute to Surendra, and her outstanding leadership of NIFF over the last two years. She has steered us through the most difficult and challenging period of Covid. Surendra, you have held everything together, and as we have emerged from Covid, you have been pro-active and planned activities that have engaged a wide range of people. I am thinking particularly of the Interfaith Walk in June, and the recent Covid-reflection event at Abington Park, both of which were hugely successful and the result of your hard work with members of NIFF and outside agencies.
Over the last two years we have all come to value and respect your kindness, your integrity and your commitment to NIFF. You have been very helpful to me, in enabling me to prepare for the role of Chair. On Behalf of NIFF I would like to thank you, and to make a small presentation, as an expression of our gratitude and respect.
I would also like to thank Husnain for his commitment and efficiency as Treasurer of NIFF. He has always been very supportive, and I look forward to working with him in the coming months, as Gurdev works into the new role. Husnain, you have been a pillar of strength to NIFF, and we will all value your continued contribution. I would like thank Gurdev for taking on this responsibility, and I am sure she will make an excellent Treasurer. I am also very grateful to Kamalpreet for agreeing continue as Secretary, and to Bruce for offering to be my Deputy.
The key words of NIFF are respect, understanding and friendship – these key values define what we are about. In this spirit, I am sure that with your support I will be able to build on the example of Surendra and take NIFF forward. I was recently reminded of a book by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, entitled ‘The Dignity of Difference’. This title could almost be a motto for NIFF: we share a common humanity, but we value and respect our different religious and cultural heritages.
Looking forward, I am keen that NIFF should be active in the wider community, given the economic and social crises we are all facing. On a practical level, I am trying to arrange two events for Interfaith Week (13-20 November). One activity is to help Abdul and Husnain in feeding the homeless outside the Grosvenor Centre on Sunday 20th November, and to arrange a group planting of bulbs in Abington Park around the Covid Memorial tree – if I can get permission from the Town Council. If anyone on the committee has other suggestions for Interfaith Week, please continue the conversation via our WhatsApp group.
I feel we should also renew our commitment to the Hope Centre, and subject to your approval, I have provisionally arranged that NIFF will lay on a lunch on Saturday 3rd December. Abdul has said he will provide a vegetarian curry with rice and side dishes for 45 people, details to be discussed via WhatsApp and email. Looking further ahead, we should have another Interfaith Walk, and I have identified Sunday 25th June 2023 as a suitable date for that event.
I am sure you will agree that we should continue with our work with schools, using the excellent ‘I am Human’ booklet, and where possible providing school assemblies about our different festivals and traditions. I am excited by the prospect of the health and well-being workshops in our different communities and look forward to working on this with Helen and the committee. There are various other projects that are on-going, such as updating the NIFF banner and other items, planting faith trees in Delapre Park as part of the Queen’s canopy, and our project to install symbols of faith in the woodland at the Cynthia Spencer Centre.
I am committed to working with others to update and modernise our website. It is also important that we continue to work closely with other agencies and organisations such as the police, and all faith communities. We will invite guests from other agencies and faiths to our meetings, but these invitations should come through the Chair.
This is an ambitious programme, and we can’t do it all at once, but adhering to our core values, and working together as a team, I am sure NIFF will be able to make a difference. And it should be fun! Thank you.