Interfaith Week Meeting

On Thursday 18th November 6.30 – 8.30pm Hounslow Friends of Faith are holding a meeting in person to celebrate Inter Faith Week giving an opportunity to meet and network with other local supporters.  It is being held at Hounslow House Civic Centre, 7 Bath Road, Hounslow, TW3 3EB. The event will include: a light finger food (vegetarian) buffet; a short interfaith quiz; the launch of both an interfaith calendar for 2022 featuring Hounslow Places of Worship and a small booklet with information contributed by individual HFOF members about their faith and religious symbol and the honouring of two longstanding members of HFOF for their interfaith work by the presentation of certificates marking their becoming Patrons of HFOF by Hounslow Mayor: Councillor Bishnu Gurung.

This is a free event open to all aged over 18 who have an interest in interfaith matters in the borough of Hounslow.

To aid catering and ensure covid-19 compliance it is necessary to book in advance by contacting: Barbara McIntivey HFOF secretary on 07928345959 or info@hounslowfriendsoffaith.org  Please note there is no parking on site but there are good public transport links.

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.

Covid-19 Vaccination

Anxious or unsure about being vaccinated against Covid-19?

Here is a link to videos of NHS staff urging acceptance of the covid-19 vaccine in many different languages:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/london/our-work/covid-19-vaccine-communication-materials/

Response to recent terrorist attacks

Hounslow Friends of Faith endorses the following statement of the Inter Faith Network for the UK made on 30th October 2020

We condemn in the strongest terms terrorism and other acts of violent extremism.  They have no place in a democratic society. We deplore these fundamental acts of inhumanity and our thoughts and prayers are with those who have been affected.

In recent times, in many places around the world – as this week at the Notre-Dame Basilica in Nice in France – people have been murdered at their places of worship.  Such attacks on places of worship are a reminder to stand together and to continue to work together with ever greater urgency against ignorance, prejudice and hatred.  Hatred and violence targeting any community because of its faith and belief are scourges that cannot be tolerated. There must be freedom for all communities to worship and practise their faith freely and without fear.

URGENT INFORMATION FOR ALL KEYWORKERS and RESIDENTS about CORONA VIRUS TESTING  

Hounslow will be hosting a Mobile Testing Unit for coronavirus testing for keyworkers and residents at Grasshoppers’ Rugby Club, Osterley, on Tuesday 23rd June and Wednesday 24th June 2020. 

Mobile Testing Units are an essential part of the national testing programme as they offer pedestrian appointments as well as drive-through appointments.  

You must register via the gov.uk portal before attending a mobile testing unit, and bring your 16-digit code or appointment confirmation with you on your mobile phone.  

Testing site location: 

Grasshoppers Rugby Club, Syon Lane, Osterley, Isleworth,  TW7 5PN 

Criteria for testing if you are a KEYWORKER 

You can use this testing facility if you are: 

  •  an essential worker 
  • live with an essential worker  

If you are an essential worker in the NHS or social care you can be tested with or without symptoms. Regular testing is important for staff to prevent outbreaks of coronavirus among vulnerable residents.  

If you are an essential worker, but not in the NHS or social care, you can get tested if you are within the first five days of coronavirus symptoms.  

Coronavirus symptoms are: 

  • a high temperature 
  • a new, continuous cough 
  • a loss of or change to your sense of smell or taste 

Criteria for testing of RESIDENTS 

Anyone over the age of 5 who is symptomatic is now able to receive a test at one of the testing centres. You should be within the first 5 days of symptoms when you have your test, as otherwise it is not effective.  

Coronavirus symptoms are: 

  • a high temperature 
  • a new, continuous cough 
  • a loss of or change to your sense of smell or taste 

This test can tell you if you have coronavirus at the time the swab sample is taken. The test to tell if you’ve ever had coronavirus (‘antibody test’) is not available yet. 

The information on certain pages on the gov.uk website may contradict this. This has been flagged to the national team operating the website. Please be assured that the criteria listed above are the most up to date and correct for testing.  

Book an appointment: 

Appointments are open for both Tuesday and Wednesday at Grasshoppers’ Mobile Testing Unit from 8pm on Monday 22nd June via the gov.uk link:  https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-getting-tested 

If you would like a pedestrian appointment at the Mobile Testing Unit, please put “unknown” in the box requiring your vehicle registration number. This should allow you to continue the booking process.  

If you have any problems refer to the helpline detailed below, or you can use the 16-digit authorisation code that is sent you via SMS and go to the testing centre anytime on foot or in a car between 10.30 and 15.30 where local authority staff will help you. Please do not take public transport.  

The testing centre will be operating between 10.30-15.30 on both Tuesday and Wednesday.   

Alternative testing provision 

Please note that if an appointment is not available at the Grasshoppers’ site, then the same testing criteria apply for bookings at the Twickenham testing site and they operate 7 days a week. They do however only offer drive-in appointments. 

There are also home testing kits available, bookable via the same self-service portal on the gov.uk website.  

Questions or problems 

If anyone has any problems booking via the portal, please contact the National Coronavirus Testing Helpline on 0300 303 2713  

Capacity for testing is limited so is released on an hourly basis; it is recommended to try at regular intervals to access an appointment.  

If you have any questions about testing, please contact publichealth@hounslow.gov.uk 

Response to the Terrorist Attack

Hounslow Friends of Faith endorse the following statement:

Our thoughts and prayers are with all affected by the terrorist stabbing attack in Reading on Saturday, in which three people were killed by the attacker and others injured, including those who responded to it with such bravery.

We condemn in the strongest possible terms terrorism and extremist ideologies that underpin it.

Let us stand together in resolute resistance to such murderous acts and in solidarity with those who are affected by them.

This weekend is one on which the murder by another violent extremist four years ago of the late Jo Cox MP is remembered. Her words, ‘We have more in common than that which divides us’, have been at the heart of that remembering and have great resonance.

On all that we hold in common, and appreciating also our diversity, let us continue to work together with courage and commitment to develop and strengthen our shared society in ways rooted in, and characterised by, our shared values such as justice, compassion, pursuit of learning and wisdom, respect, and peace.

We close as we began, holding in our thoughts and prayers all those affected by yesterday’s attack.

A statement on behalf of the Board and the Moderators of the Faith Communities Forum of the Inter Faith Network for the UK

#Blacklivesmatter

Councillor Katherine Dunne, Cabinet Member for Communities and Climate Emergency at Hounslow Council, published this statement on Tuesday 2nd June:

“We are deeply saddened ​and angered by the death of George Floyd and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

For this reason we will be lighting up Hounslow House in purple this evening (Tuesday 2 June) to stand in solidarity with ​black people in the US, the UK and around the world​.

It is incumbent on all of us to stand up to discrimination, violence, racism and injustice and to declare that Black Lives Matter.”

Act of Committment

At the turn of the Millennium the faith communities of the UK developed this Act of Commitment. The interfaith group, Hounslow Friends of Faith, continues to share and commit to the same aims.

The Act of Commitment

In a world scarred by the evils of war,
racism, injustice and poverty,
we offer this joint Act of Commitment as we
look to our shared future.

We commit ourselves,
as people of many faiths,
to work together
for the common good,
uniting to build a better society,
grounded in values and ideals we share:

community,
personal integrity,
a sense of right and wrong,
learning, wisdom and love of truth,
care and compassion,
justice and peace,
respect for one another,
for the earth and its creatures.

We commit ourselves,
in a spirit of friendship and co-operation,
to work together
alongside all who share our values and ideals,
to help bring about a better world
now and for generations to come.

An important message on funerals

Father Luke Miller, Anglican Archdeacon of London, Chair of the Faith Cell of the London Resilience Strategic Coordination Group writes:

When a loved one dies it is very important to know that they are being treated with dignity and respect. All those involved in the death management process are aware of this and, in particular,  of the need in some faiths for funerals to take place as soon as possible after death. Others would prefer to wait longer for a burial or cremation than is currently feasible.

However, it is important to know that there are currently significant pressures beyond anyone’s control which may cause delays and difficulties. Automatic referrals to the Coroner, which occur when a loved one has not seen a doctor in the 28 days before their death, are a significant factor which can cause delay for those who have died in the community. In addition, there are sadly many more burials and cremations taking place than usual and many staff are off sick.

Please be assured that the needs of families are at the centre of a great deal of work that is going on to address these issues but it is inevitable that challenges will remain. Please do share this message with your own communities to raise awareness of these issues and encourage families to work with your faith Funeral Directors to help move things forward at this very difficult time.

Isis Terrorist Attack on Sikh Worshippers in Kabul, Afghanistan on Wednesday 25th March 2020

In these challenging times for us all it is shocking to hear of this terrorist
attack on innocent Sikh worshippers and mourners and although we
cannot physically gather together to show support and solidarity let us
hold our Sikh brothers and sisters in our thoughts and prayers.

Words taken from a Press Release | March 26, 2020  
The American Sikh Council (ASC) is extremely distraught by the terrorist
attack on the only Gurdwara Guru Har Rai located in Shor Bazaar, Kabul,Afghanistan, yesterday. According to reports several attackers stormed
the gurdwara premises at about 7am and killed at least twenty-five (25)
innocent Sikhs who had gathered for prayer services. Eight (8) more have been seriously injured and have been sent to ER at the local hospital. ISIShas claimed responsibility for the savage attack. Kabul is home to the
few hundred remaining Sikhs in Afghanistan and Sikh-Afghans currently face a very difficult predicament and most have been forced to flee to
other countries starting in the early 90s. The remaining Sikhs are very
vulnerable and do not have the resources or ability to relocate to other
countries. With no other options, international resettlement has become
the only feasible solution for Sikh-Afghan asylum seekers as they are
persecuted because of their distinct and independent faith. While the
entire Sikh-Afghan community were still mourning, another bomb blast was set off today at the funeral of the 25 Sikhs at the crematorium. The
youngest victim was a six (6) year old child. The American Sikh Council (ASC) and all other Sikh organisations in the US request the State department to assist the Afghan authorities to offer meaningful protection to
Sikh-Afghans, meanwhile the US State department seriously consider
giving them asylum urgently, because based on the past history it is
highly likely the rest of them could be killed soon. Without immediate
assistance, the remaining Sikhs in Afghanistan face a tragic fate.
Although this is a difficult time for America and the entire world as we
combat the Corona virus, we must remember our duty to assist
vulnerable communities facing extermination such as Sikhs in
Afghanistan. The American Sikh Council calls on the US government to
expedite the processing of their refugee applications and allow the Sikhs
remaining in Afghanistan to be directly sponsored by Americans.

Interfaith Week Meeting

Hounslow Friends of Faith arranged a most thought provoking evening at the Baitul Wahid Ahmadiyya Mosque, discussing:

“Life after Death?” with speakers from the:

– Humanists UK

– Christian Coptic Orthodox church

– Brahma Kumaris

– Ahmadiyya Community

This was part of National Interfaith Week 2019 which took place from 10th – 17th November this year.

The Three Aims of Interfaith Week are:

  • Strengthening good inter faith relations at all levels
  • Increasing awareness of the different and distinct faith communities in the UK, in particular celebrating and building on the contribution which their members make to their neighbourhoods and to wider society
  • Increasing understanding between people of religious and non-religious beliefs

IMPORTANT INFORMATION for Faith Leaders concerning care of the deceased

To all faith organisations Kelly O’Neill, the Director of Public Health for Hounslow, is happy to take any questions, and consider and respond to any concerns your organisations may have at this time in regards to health matters, however, can I ask you to feed them into my inbox for collation and passing on joan.conlon@hounslow.gov.uk  As you can imagine her email account is swamped. 

If you click on the link below it will provide what we hope is clear and unambiguous advice.  

The guidance is: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-care-of-the-deceased/guidance-for-care-of-the-deceased-with-suspected-or-confirmed-coronavirus-covid-19#responders

In terms of infection control we are advised that ‘from a PH view and based on the reference in the above document regarding handling the body that that there is a small but real risk of contamination and infection transmission, the body handling and washing should not be done by an individual who is within the defined vulnerable group – an older person and/ or someone with a health condition. 

All persons cleaning and handling a body if this is absolutely necessary should be wearing personal protective equipment of fluid resistant masks, gloves and aprons, and should be strictly adhering to meticulous hand hygiene guidance.

Going forward Kelly has confirmed she is happy to have a discussion with any faith leaders who wants help about interpretation of this guidance.