Interfaith Matters Newsletter Issue 1

Spring 2024

URI Visit to the UK 

In early March 2024, URI UK invited a delegation of URI Global URI and URI Europe representatives to visit the English Midlands and London.

The delegation included URI Global’s Executive Director (a humanitarian activist who shared in the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize for his work in banning landmines) and delegates from the USA, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Bulgaria, the Netherlands and Bosnia-Hercegovina.

The main purpose of the visit was to bring international perspectives to help regalvanise interfaith activity in parts of the UK. It was also designed to introduce the delegation to interfaith practice and issues in the UK.

Based in Coleshill in the Midlands, the delegation travelled to five inner city districts over four days: Handsworth in Birmingham, Oldbury in the Black Country, the Golden Mile in Leicester, Swanswell Park in Coventry, and the London Borough of Barnet. The programme included visits to places of worship (including observing acts of worship), a touring exhibition, shared meals, and conferences in the five host venues.

For further information, click here



Interfaith Matters Newsletter has been created to promote a culture of peace, justice, and healing. This newsletter is a collaboration of like-minded partners who believe that sharing ideas and resources will help spread the message to a large number of people and communities. Join us in sharing this newsletter with your communities.

Editor’s Message

URI (UK) is a registered charity that seeks to pursue URI’s global aims within the United Kingdom. We had a successful visit from URI Global and URI Europe, who witnessed the amazing diversity and quality of interfaith work being carried out in the UK. 

This newsletter is being created to highlight some of the amazing stories in the interfaith community. We want to continue to promote a culture of peace, justice and healing. Please help us share the work and let us all work toward a positive and brighter future. 

Deepak Naik




Sandford Awards

2024 Shortlist Announced.

The Sandford St Martin Trust promotes thought-provoking, distinctive programming that engages with all faiths’ religion, ethics, and morality. 

IFN Closure

37 Years of Public Service

The closing of the Inter Faith Network after 37 years has shocked and dismayed faith leaders across the UK. 

Tackling knife crime.

Sceptre is a national and bi-annual week of increased activity to tackle knife crime. Last year, this saw activity across policing teams including LPA’s, School Officers and Safer Travel to increase awareness.  Sceptre is due to take place 13th – 19th May this year.
The police have identified  SPOC’s within the Local Policing Areas, and to compliment this side of the work I am looking for contacts in the Local Authority and Third Sector organisations who are either able to carry out some awareness raising or already are due to.  We are particularly grateful for support in community engagement, school engagement, sharing comms and raising awareness around weapon surrender bins.
If you’d like to learn more about local plans as they’re formed, or if you would like to take part, I can link you in with the local policing lead for Sceptre.
If you take part in the week, there would be an ask to share a brief overview of activity with your local Police SPOC on Friday 17th May as they will need to submit returns to the Home Office on Monday 20th.
If you feel this would be better placed with somebody else in your organisation, please let me know and forwards this on. Equally, if there’s an organisation you think would be well placed to support please do the same.




Wonders of Volunteering

Voluntary Action Coventry promotes and supports social action and community resilience in Coventry, strengthening communities, building capability, and improving the quality of life for city residents.

It is offering support to people to build their confidence and develop work related skills through volunteering in their local community. Volunteering is a fantastic way for people to improve their mental health and wellbeing, and make connections with people.

The centre has a volunteer drop in-service from 10am-2pm on a Monday and Tuesday at our office in Harp Place, 2 Sandy Lane, Radford.  Our drop-in service gives people the opportunity to access 1-1 tailored support to find a volunteering role that is right for them. Details can be found here. 

The centre is also offering a Improving Lives course – the next one beginning on the 11th of June. The Improving Lives course consists of 12 structured sessions of engaging activities, discussions, visits and support that take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10.30am to 12.30pm for 6 weeks. Additionally, participants can access one-to-one support and guidance to help them with volunteering or employment barriers.

The course aim is to support participants to focus on their futures and realise their potential, improving confidence in their own skills and abilities and what they have to offer, and to learn about and practice elements necessary for finding, applying for and securing volunteer or work roles. More information can be found on their website.

The Closure of the Inter Faith Network for the UK.

The closure of the Inter Faith Network after 37 years has shocked and dismayed faith leaders across the UK.

The government says it is withdrawing funding because a new Inter Faith Network (IFN) trustee, Hassan Joudi, is associated with the Muslim Council of Britain, an organisation which the government will not speak to due to a dispute dating from 2009. The IFN says that unless the government changes its mind, the organisation will be forced to close on 22 February.

The Inter Faith Network was set up to raise awareness and understanding of different faith communities and promote good interfaith relations. It has supported local initiatives and brought together national faith organisations to provide opportunities for safe dialogue, especially needed during flashpoints such as the Salman Rushdie book burning, 9/11 and terrorist attacks in the UK.

Please see News Release.


Zara Sultana MP on balancing work and fasting…

“You can’t have your cake and eat it” is a common political phrase, which has never been more true for Muslim politicians fasting during Ramadan.

During the month of Ramadan, Muslims don’t eat or drink during daylight hours in a practice called fasting.

When the sun sets, Muslims break their fast with a meal known as an ‘iftar’ which is often a large community event.

But with Eid approaching and the end of Ramadan near, how have Muslim politicians felt about balancing politics and faith during this month?

The Labour MP for Coventry, Zara Sultana, says Ramadan encourages Muslims to “continue in the pursuit of justice, collectively, in solidarity with each other”.

Miss Sultana says that key to her job in politics is the Islamic emphasis on “speaking truth to power” and “holding ourselves to the highest standards possible”.

“Working in politics means that there are times that you may feel a sense of despair but the Quran reminds us ‘Verily. With hardship comes ease’.”

Read full start on BBC News


We can’t let connecting faiths fall victim to deliberate smears and fearmongering. 

Laura Marks writes… ‘It’s easy to mock interfaith work as sipping cups of tea and sharing samosas, but the truth is that it’s a long graft’, writes Laura Marks, co-founder of Jewish-Muslim women network’s Nisa-Nashim.

With the tragic conflict continuing to rage in Israel and Palestine, threatening to tear communities here in the UK apart, it has never been more important to bring people of different faiths and beliefs together to build understanding.

However, in my 20 years of working in this space, I can safely say I have never seen such forceful efforts by people on different sides to willingly denigrate these initiatives quite so brazenly. The consequences, if their efforts are successful, should worry us all.

Read Full Story.


British Muslims believe more should be done to improve interfaith relations.

Most British Muslims believe more should be done to improve relations between the UK’s different religious communities, according to a research forum on faith.

The Institute for the Impact of Faith in Life (IIFL) looked at the attitudes and social contributions of British Muslims living in the UK. The survey found 71% of British Muslim respondents believed more work should be done to improve relations between different faith groups, and just 22% believed the right amount was being done.

The research also found 86% of British Muslim respondents believed Britain was a good place to live in terms of opportunities to progress, compared with 70% in a wider population survey.

Read full article in The Guardian.


Funding Insight

According to a survey, 87% of public service charities subsidise grants and contracts.

Almost nine in 10 charities that deliver public services are subsidising their grants and contracts, with most considering withdrawing from them, a NCVO survey has found.

The True Cost Of Delivering Public Services: A Survey Of Charities In England reads: “For decades, charities have warned that contracts and grants are not keeping up with inflation. This problem has become much worse over the past few years due to rapidly rising prices.

“Contracts are not covering the true costs of delivering public services, let alone providing any surplus to improve support to communities. 

“Charities are increasingly subsidising public services with voluntary income and reserves. They’re risking their long-term sustainability to meet urgent needs now.”

Please read further at Civil Society



The Sandford St Martin Awards 2024

For 46 years the Sandford St Martin Awards have celebrated broadcast content exploring religion, belief, spirituality and ethics and how people’s faith (or lack of faith) impacts on the world we live in.

This year’s shortlists across the four categories – TV/Video, Radio/Audio, Journalism and Young Audience have now been published.

If you’d like to have your own say: choose your favourite programme in the Sandford St Martin Radio Times Readers’ award.

Winners across all categories will be announced at a gala ceremony at Southwark Cathedral in June.

Follow us on social media @sandfordawards for more updates.

If you’re feeling inspired, the 2025 Awards competition will open for entries in November this year. To be eligible entries must have been first broadcast between 1 January and 31 December 2024 and have been publicly available to a UK audience.

You can find out more about this year’s criteria and categories here.



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