Tag: Family involvement

Learning About Love

In May 2014 the local organisation, Connect Justice, released a groundbreaking report called Learning About Love: Developing Interfaith Approaches to Promoting Healthy Relationships.  The Near Neighbour’s funded study carried out by Dr. Laura Zahra McDonald and Zubeda Limbada explored what healthy and unhealthy relationships mean in the context of faith, culture, gender and identity for Christian, Muslim and Sikh participants. Six young males, six young females and a mixed group of six parents were consulted in three-hour workshops in three separate sessions to enable honest views and dialogue to be shared. Each of the three groups had equal representation from the three faith groups. The cultural and ethnic heritage of the participants – reflective of Birmingham as a diverse city – included Somali, Black African, white British, African Caribbean, white American, Pakistani, and Indian.

Rather than focusing on the extremes, the researchers wanted to understand how might we better understand the challenges facing all of us, whether young women, young men, parents, family members or as wider community members? Are there different challenges governed by our diversities, including gender, faith, culture or age? How can we resist the tide, and learn about love? For this study, the question posed was ‘How might we as a society better promote healthy relationships’ which reflected the need for a positive, pro-active response.

You can read a copy of the report here.

Faithful Friends – Portraits of Friendships

Since September 2011, Near Neighbours has been encouraging people across the city to come together to make new friends, deepen relationships and transform their communities. We now have 92 projects that have been funded by Near Neighbours – initial feedback suggests 3,000 people have met each other through these events.

To celebrate these friendships between people of different faiths and ethnicities we comissioned 15 portraits taken by a professional photographer, Dee from Outroslide, that give the people and their relationship a context.

We shot the pictures and interviewed all the people involved during June, July, August, September and a bit of October, had bespoke display boards made that could fit in a car and be assembled as quickly as possibly (thanks to John at Morse-Brown Design) , hunted around for funding (thanks Transforming Church and Westhill Endowment) and eventually launched the exhibition on November 17th at St Martin’s Church in the Bull Ring.

The events was hosted by the Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd David Urquhart working with comedian Barbara Nice and Sajid Khan. Guests browsed the exhibition, heard from some of the participants, danced, laughed and enjoyed afternoon tea.

The exhibition and its launch were featured on Central News – the piece included interviews with people who had been involved with the projects and some of those whose friendships are depicted in the portraits. You can watch the coverage here.

Since then the Exhibition has been seen at the launch of the Christian Muslim report into women’s work, at the national Together In Service event hosted by the Department for Communities and Local Government. It is booked by local primary schools, churches, universities and other places of worship but is available for anyone to borrow.

Booking forms and more details are all on our website – we really want people to see these pictures and think hard about the personal and political importance of friendships that bridge communities, challenge prejudice and broaden our imagination. Have a look at the pictures and stories featured in the exhibition on the Outroslide website.

(All pictures from the launch were taken by Helen Tomblin – thanks.)

 

 

 

 

 

Older People ‘fertile ground’ for Friendships

Big thanks to Matt Kendall for sending us this report of a Near Neighbours project in Aston. If you have a story of a Near Neighbours activity or project we would love to feature it here

Aston Sports and Community Club’s (ASC) Near Neighbours Project is all about reclaiming Aston Park as a resource for the whole community, and while the majority of their activity is around sport and young people, this project is focused on work with the over 50s, a group often neglected in cohesion work locally.  ASC’s project includes a series of 6 events where local older people from different faiths are brought together around shared interests and activities in spaces in and around Aston Park in order to build lasting relationships and friendships.  Matt Kendall, a Director of ASC, and the project lead explains, “Older people are often the hub of their families, and we believe by building relationships here, when often there hasn’t previously been any work on building cross community understanding, we can make a real difference to both those directly involved, but also their families.”

The first event in the series was a tour of recently revitalised and restored Aston Hall, a beautiful Jacobean stately home in the heart of Aston, which has struggled to attract local visitors, drawing instead from the suburbs of the city.  With the cooperation and support of the Hall’s excellent staff, the group of 38 older people from Aston, enjoyed tea and cake together, followed by some directed work in groups around active listening and sharing of each other’s stories of their own memories of Aston, and how they arrived there.  Once the hard work was done, the group left on 2 guided tours of the hall, one of which was bi-lingual in Urdu, for the next 30 minutes.

From the signing in records, it was estimated that 21 churchgoers attended, 15 from mosques and 2 further of no affiliation.  Feedback from the participants was first class, the organisers being thanked profusely, and ASC’s belief that working with this group was sowing on fertile soil was upheld.  ASC believes that this is just the start of positive relationships, and we are looking forward to our next event, which is a partnership with local churches and groups for a Jubilee Big Lunch in Aston Park on Sunday 3rd June – watch this space for more detail.

If you want to know more about ASC’s work with older people do contact Matt by e-mail at info@astonsportsclub.com or visit the website.


Jubilee Celebration

Across the country people are gathering to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the congregation at St. Christopher’s Church in Springfield are no exception. They worked with friends from the Woodlands Road Mosque to organise a big lunch for the whole community. Springfield is a predominantly Muslim area of Birmingham, but the church has built good links with people from all walks of life over the yeras. They benefitted from a small Near Neighbours grant to help them fund the games, decorations and activities that were all pert of the celebrations.

Several hundred people attended the event which was helped by the glorious sunshine throughout the day. Whilst the adults sat and eat and chatted children enjoyed playing on the bouncy castle, making crowns, face painting and tucking into an enormous amount of tasty food.

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