Mayor Mohammed Zaman, in collaboration with Near Neighbours, hosted an interfaith event on Thursday 15 November at Rochdale Town Hall in celebration of Interfaith Week, which is acknowledged nationally.
This event was held with the aim of bringing people together from different faiths, ethnic communities and backgrounds in Rochdale. Attendees from round the borough ranged from businesses, youth groups, faith communities, community and voluntary organisations, representatives from Greater Manchester Police, students from Rochdale Sixth Form College and Principal, Richard Ronksley, Rochdale Multi-Faith Partnership and Rochdale Community Partnership.
Guests were prompted to have conversations on the challenges they face in their neighbourhoods before making pledges to see how they could collectively come together and make a positive change.
This was followed by ‘Round Table Discussions’ on how they could build better relationships and a sense of community where they live and work and what faith groups could do to help their progress.
Mayor Zaman said: “I am very pleased we have been able to organise something during Interfaith Week, which is widely celebrated in the UK as it brings many people together. Hopefully this event has helped individuals develop a better understanding of one another as they share ideas and information and work together to promote unity.
“Thank you to all that attended and Samra Kanwal from Near Neighbours for collaborating with me on this event.”
Samra Kanwal, Near Neighbour Coordinator for Greater Manchester, said: “A lot of effort has been put in to bring people together for this event. We particularly wanted to include women and young people and it is nice to see everyone enjoying their time together.”
Reverend Mark Coleman, Vicar of St Chad’s and St Mary’s in the Baum, said: “Rochdale is blessed with depths of faiths and communities. There are many individuals who care about interfaith and seek to build on foundations of trust. Rochdale is a great place to live.”
Imam Hassanat of Bilal Mosque said: “Today has been a good get together to share the best of Rochdale and use collective experiences to enhance the good work that is already in place. I am glad to see Rochdale celebrate all kinds of faith.”
Councillor Janet Emsley said: “There is such a variety of people within one place, illustrating diversity within the borough and how we are keen to work together for one community. I am particularly pleased to see young people involved.”
Tahir Mahmood, Chair of Rochdale Council of Mosques, said: “The most important thing regarding any faith is the regard for humanity. Faith is not just about praying or a belief, it is about how we interact with one another. This event is about working on kindness, cohesion and harmony that will bring out the peace we need in our communities.”
Nicky T Iginla, representing Caring and Sharing based at St Mary’s in the Baum, said: “This event has been lovely. It is what we have been looking for and allowed us to integrate with others that we may never have met. The communities here are filled with love. This is the first interfaith event I have attended in Rochdale but hopefully it will not be the last.”
Interfaith Week is led in England by the Inter Faith Network for the UK, who aim to strengthen interfaith relations, increase awareness of different and distinct faith communities in the UK and increase understanding between people of both religious and non-religious beliefs.
Near Neighbours was the perfect partner for this event as the group also aims to bring people together that are religiously and ethnically diverse, so that they can get to know each other better, build relationships of trust, and collaborate together on initiatives that improve the local community they live in.
Article by Rochdale Online