Tag: Catalyst

Doing Interfaith in the Countryside

The Catalyst young leaders group held their weekend away in February and were able to get away from it all with a trip to beautiful Derbyshire. Apart from great food, a wonderful location and lots of laughter there were also significant discussions on leadership, reincarnation, sexuality and discrimination. The weekend started with a lively game about aims and objectives that involved eating quite a lot of chocolate.

The group also worked on a social action project that they will be rolling out in Birmingham in the coming months. Coming from their desire to help those who are struggling with food poverty and to provide a sustainable, regular supply of fresh food they are working on an innovative and exciting project.

We were also challenged to think through our attitudes to sexuality and how we understand the experiences and stories of those from the LGBT community who are also members of faith communities.

As with all the Catalyst events it was a real mix of friendship building and deep conversations that make the whole course such a worthwhile endeavour.

Catalyst Team Synergy Video

In early 2013 the Catalyst group were split into three teams and each was challenged to run a Near Neighbours event. Each event was different effective and exciting. One group ran an art event, another trained local leaders in how to apply for Near Neighbours funding and the third, Team Synergy, ran a morning for children from two primary schools, one Catholic and one Sikh. They produced the following video which captures the fun and significance of the morning for the pupils.


Graduates plan for the Future

On the 11th May the Catalyst course came to an end. The day finished with a graduation meal at Al-Faisal’s restaurant in Birmingham. About 50 guests attended and heard about what had happened on the course and the impact it had on the group members.

The evening concluded with the members being awarded a certificate and being presented with a personalised Catalyst hoodie. Major Sam Edgar from the Salvation Army and Rabbi Margaret Jacobs were representing the Birmingham Faith Leaders Group and handed out the certificates and hoodies.

During the evening the group explained that they are intended to continue meeting as a younger faith leaders group. Plans are well underway for their first meetings and updates on how to keep up with their progress will be coming soon.

Learning to Lead in the Big City

‘Tomorrow members of the public are coming for a guided tour of London, your task between now and then is to research, plan and then lead a tour for them’.

How would you feel if that was said to you? well that was just one of the challenges the Catalyst group faced on their residential trip to London. They had less than 24 hours to plan a trip in a city few of them new well for people they had never met. It demanded that they drew on all the leadership training they had received through the Catalyst programme so far, and was a real challenge.

The four day trip also included a visit to the House of Lords to discuss being a faith leader in the public and political sphere. They were guided by the Rt Revd Bishop David Urquhart, Bishop of Birmingham and one of the Lords Spiritual who sits in the House of Lords. He gave a fascinating tour of the house explaining its workings and history and chaired a discussion for them to grapple with how to be a leader of faith in a society where faith isn’t always taken seriously or considered relevant to political or moral debate.

Having the chance to spend time together, socialise and eat together brought the group much closer and led to some really deep and profound conversations on topics such as women in leadership, salvation and gay marriage. Our evening reflections included the opportunity to reflect on pieces of art from different faith traditions, on the final day we visited Tate Modern and looked at art inspired both by a spirituality and by no faith or spirituality at all.

It was a fantastic time which drew us together as a group, challenged us all and developed leadership skills amongst this key group of emerging leaders in Birmingham.

Oh, and how were the guided tours? Brilliant.

Planning, Personality and Pressure

The third Catalyst day took place at the Faithful Neighbourhoods Centre on Saturday 12th January. In a packed day the group learnt about basic planning for events including budgeting, risk assessments and safeguarding. After a wonderful curry for lunch the group thought about how their personality affects their leadership by going through an introduction to the Myers Briggs Tye Indicator personality test. This useful and entertaining session was led by Tom and Judy Walsh who helped us all see how personality impacts the way we lead and how we relate to those in our teams.

The final session of the day was on Leadership under pressure and was led by Jake Diliberto who brought a vast array of experience to the topic and described pressure situations he’d been a leader in that we all hoped we could avoid!








As a warm up for this session the group were all put under pressure as they were challenged to use £5 to buy ingredients for a tasty snack for us to share in the tea break. The pressure was added to as they only had 35 mins from receiving the instructions to needing to serve the food. In this time they had to buy the ingredients, prepare them and do a risk assessment on the activity. A beautiful fruit salad, mini fruit kebabs and cheese and tomato on ciabatta were the results.











In April all the members of Catalyst will have to prepare and run a Near Neighbours event, to prepare them for this task Immy Kaur shared her experience of running the Art for Action project in 2012.

Next up for Catalyst is our Residential trip to London from 28th Feb-3rd March. Look out for more updates

Can God be your Best Friend?

This was one of the questions that came out of our discussions at the second Catalyst day in December. The participants were asked to describe God in juts a few sentences and then to look at what other people had written. If they warmed to that description of God they put a tick. If they didn’t really understand what was written they put a question mark. If they didn’t describe God in that way they put a dot. One phrase that got an almost equal number of ticks and dots (but no question marks) was ‘My Best Friend’. For some this felt comforting, for others it was too informal and reduced God to our level.

Munpreet, who wrote the comment, has written a thoughtful blog post on why she wanted to describe God as her best friend. It’s well worth taking the time to read.

So what do you think? Too informal, an intimate and profound insight? And how might you describe God in just a few sentences?

Catalyst Birmingham Launched

One of the programmes funded by Near Neighbours is the Catalyst leadership programme for young leaders. Aimed at people aged 20-30, this programme brings together people of different faiths in that age bracket and provides training on leadership issues.

Catalyst Birmingham has a cohort of 13 which includes Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians and Muslims. On November 24th they met for the first time and spent the day getting to know one another and thinking through what the qualities of leadership drawing on their own experiences of leadership and inspirational leaders from within their faith traditions.

The group will meet once a month for the next 6 months and will cover topics such as conflict resolution, character and personality, practicalities of leadership, recruiting volunteers, risk assessment and faith and leadership in the public sphere.

They will also have to devise and run a Near Neighbours project as part of the course.

Our hope is that this group will go on to form the core of a group of young faith leaders engaged with inter-faith work and social issues in Birmingham.

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