Annual Report (from 1st July 2020 – 30th June 2021)

During the last year many members of local faith groups joined in volunteering to support the general community by helping those shielding or isolating with shopping, prescriptions and transport to appointments, also by supplying food banks, food parcels, hot meals, sewing scrubs, raising money for the NHS and offering their premises as vaccination centres. Throughout the pandemic HFOF was used as a trusted messenger to circulate public health information and advice to places of worship and to HFOF members and also facilitated meetings of faith leaders with Kelly O’Neill, LBH Director of Public Health. Although not possible to meet in person HFOF has continued committees and activities via zoom.

Guest Speaker Zoom Event on 22nd July 2020 There was no AGM held last year, due to the Covid pandemic, but it was decided to hold a virtual meeting on 22nd July 2020 to hear Barney Leith OBE, the planned AGM guest speaker. Thirty five people from different faiths joined this zoom meeting which was facilitated by Mukesh Malhotra and chaired by Charanjit AjitSingh. The Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Hounslow, Paul Kennerley, gave some opening words of welcome and encouragement. It was appreciated that he was joining in from New Zealand which meant he had an early start to his day. The deputy mayor of Hounslow, Councillor Raghwinder Siddhu, also joined this meeting.

Conversations with the Police

Initiated by the West Area Police Commander, Peter Gardner, conversations between the police and Hounslow Friends of Faith members have been held on zoom every other month since August 2020. When Peter Gardner has not been available either Superintendent Jill Horsfall or West Area Hate Crime Officer, PC Pete Trueman, have been present. It has been useful to share
community and policing issues. PC Grace Bernard-Broadneck, Outreach Recruitment Officer, also gave information about the new Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship and the Degree Holder Entry Programme. Either PC Pete Trueman or Faith Liaison Officer PC Muhammad Dar regularly attend HFOF committees to give an update on policing in our borough and the instances of faith/hate crimes reported and to hear any of the trustees’ concerns.

20th Anniversary Celebration Event on 12th November 2020
The highlight of last year was the virtual meeting on 12th November 2020 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of HFOF which was attended by fifty people. Those attending included past and present members and supporters of HFOF. The following were invited VIPs who brought messages of congratulations and encouragement: Deputy Lieutenant of LBH Paul Kennerley, Hounslow Mayor Councillor Tony Louki, MP for Brentford and Isleworth Ruth Cadbury and Dr Harriet Crabtree OBE, Executive Director of Inter Faith Network UK.
Founder members of HFOF Alfred Agius and Carol Lipthorpe shared memories of the early days of the group and a past treasurer Cathy Potter neé Thornewill spoke about having been inspired and enriched by her experiences of interfaith friendships.
The HFOF Interfaith Knitting Group made a knitted banner showing symbols of faiths and beliefs in the borough to mark the anniversary.

Eighteen members of the committee introduced themselves and the faith they represented and shared the reason they volunteer their time and energy to promote the aims of HFOF. Appreciation of the wise leadership of HFOF Chair, Charanjit AjitSingh, over the last eight years was expressed by Vice Chair, Divya Din, on behalf of the committee. A history booklet was compiled as part of the celebrations which is dedicated to the memory of the late Jagjivan Singh, first Chair and first Patron of HFOF. The booklet is made up of a record of the past activities and events of HFOF written by Bessie White, information about the Knitting Group from Barbara Witzenfeld and the Women’s Group by Divya Din. Also included are early memories from Carol Lipthorpe, Alfred Agius, Ajit Singh and Barbara McIntivey

Holocaust Memorial Zoom Event on Tuesday 26th January 2021
This meeting was organised by Basil Mann and Charanjit AjitSingh from HFOF and Tim Durrant from LBH Council and hosted by Mukesh Malhotra of HFOF. Unfortunately the original plan to hold this event at Lampton School was not possible due to another lockdown. HFOF and the members of Sacré (the Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education) and also Hounslow councillors were invited and over 60 people attended.
The Mayor of Hounslow, Councillor Tony Louki, gave a welcome and thanked the organisers and in his opening words he reminded everyone that democracy is fragile and that sadly there have been other genocides since the Jewish Holocaust.
Charanjit AjitSingh, Chair of HFOF, introduced the guest speaker Mrs Dorit Oliver-Wolff, an 85 year old Holocaust survivor, living in Eastbourne who has been a recording artist and dancer and who has written a book which is entitled: From Yellow Star to Pop Star. She has a passion for building bridges between religions and is in demand as a public speaker.
Dorit was a five year old Jewish girl living in Hungary when Nazism started to sweep across Europe. She spoke movingly of the years of her childhood spent constantly moving to evade the Nazis, moving not just to different houses but countries too; of months and years in isolation from the world, friends and the ‘ordinary’ things of life we take for granted; of years spent in constant fear. She spoke of finding release and hope in singing and in her imagination as she made up songs about the smallest things.
Her engaging message was full of hope and delivered with humour as well as sadness.

A World Environment Interfaith Forum was held on Saturday 5th June

The forum was organised by the World Zoroastrian Organization in association with the Zoroastrian Eco Group with the aim of “Finding a Collaborative Interfaith Project”. HFOF helped with advertising it and finding speakers. There were over twenty people present on zoom. Brief presentations about the role of the
environment in different religions were given by Monica Maghani a Baha’i; Venerable Kalugamuwe a Buddhist; Rev. Barbara Mcintivey a Christian; Minesh Bhatt a Hindu; Debbie Brenner a Liberal Reform Jew; Imam Rabeeb Mirza a Muslim from the Ahmadiyya community; Charanjit Ajit Singh a Sikh and Shahin Bekhradnia a Zoroastrian and one of the organisers of the meeting. All religions seek to promote respect for the environment and every living being and wish to heal creation through education and responsible, moral life styles. Quite a number of possible projects were suggested and after being circulated and voted on, the most favoured one was the greening of local station areas. A core group was appointed at a further meeting to explore this proposed action.

Interfaith Knitting Group

The Interfaith Knitting Group ladies have continued to knit blankets, baby clothes and scarves for charity during the pandemic and resumed their monthly meetings in the hall of St Mary’s Church in Twickenham in May although with reduced numbers due to Covid restrictions.

Refugees Welcome Hounslow

HFOF members continue to serve on the RWH managing committee. During recent months asylum seekers housed in a local hotel have been supported by RWH members in obtaining an improvement in the meals provided for them and through providing clothing and helping with the children’s needs. A social event with lunch was held in June at St Paul’s Grove Park for the ten Syrian refugee households who were resettled in the borough two years ago.

Representatives of HFOF have also carried out the following:

• Fulfilled invitations for a representative to speak at a Hounslow Council’s Prevent Meeting and also the Stronger United Communities Group.
• Attended Inter Faith Network UK meetings; London Boroughs’ Faith Forum; London Public Health Briefings for Community, Voluntary and Faith Groups; Faiths Forum for London’s series of talks Where Nature Meets Faith; the Baitul Wahid Mosque’s Journey to the Caliphate evening; and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women’s Association Hounslow North branch meetings.
• Enabled a local school to make contact with members of different faiths and liaised with West Thames College on interfaith matters.

AGM 2019

The well attended AGM was held on 24th July in the splendid environment of the top floor of Hounslow House, the new Civic Centre. The keynote speaker was Maqsood Ahmed OBE, Director of UK Projects for the charity Muslim Hands. His theme was The Importance of Interfaith Dialogue in Contemporary Societies. He expressed the view that  dialogue is about building bridges through ta’rafu – which means knowing each other. His vision is to work for the good of humanity not retaliating to hostility or negative views. He described the Muslim Hands Project in Hounslow called Open Kitchen. This restaurant on the Great West Road is open daily with nourishing free meals for those in need.