On Thursday 22nd March 2018, GRASSROOTS hosted its 25th Anniversary Celebration at Venue Central in Luton. You are warmly invited to watch the video summarising the evening below!
You can buy Zaytoun Medjoul Dates right here at GRASSROOTS! Full of mineral and vitamins, they are a true superfood, and come in a number of sizes:
- 5KG - £45.00
- 900G - £10.00
- 500G - £7.50
- 250G - £4.00
If you are interested in buying some, simply get in touch with us on email at email@example.com or by calling 01582 416946. They can be collected at 47 High Town Road, Luton, Beds, LU2 0BW, but delivery is available in special cases - contact us for details!
Your are invited to the Luton Diversity Day, led by the Community Cohesion Champions. Following last year's huge success in creating a day celebrating all that is good in Luton, this year's event looks to be even bigger and better!
Join us to celebrate diversity and enjoy complimentary foods from different cuisines, an opportunity for a penalty shootout with Luton Town Football Club and a cricket coaching session with Wicketz, and a guest performance from Rhythm Junkeys and much more happening on the day!
Date: Sunday 13th May 2018
Address: Chaul End Community Centre, 515 Dunstable Road, Luton, LU4 8QN
Download the full flyer here!
A campaign run in partnership between the Fairtrade Luton Steering Group and Luton Council of Faiths (LCoF) has successfully raised £1000 in order to purchase Fairtrade sugar for the Luton Foodbank, which supports many of the neediest families in Luton. Launched during Fairtrade Fortnight 2018, the project was supported by a number of Luton’s faith communities, who kindly raised funds to buy sugar, one of the most in-demand food items for the thousands of food parcels they supply each year.
A special presentation of the sugar took place at the Luton Foodbank on Friday 13th April 2018, with representatives from some of the faith communities that fundraised also in attendance.
“We offer our sincere thanks to everyone who has kindly donated towards this campaign, and all others who continue to support the work that the Luton Foodbank does in other ways” said Thakor Morarji, a board member at the Luton Foodbank, adding “Buying Fairtrade sugar does not only help farmers and producers around the world but is also helping our own community, right here, in our town”.
Maqsood Anwar from the Madina Mosque in Bury Park, which greatly supported the campaign added “it was a huge privilege to be able to support this important project and the amazing work that the Luton Foodbank does in helping to feed those that are most in need in Luton”.
For more information about the work of the Luton Foodbank, how you can donate food or if you feel you are also in need of assistance, please visit wwwlutonfoodbank.org.uk for more details.
This is the story of GRASSROOTS, from its inception by founder David Cowling to the work of today.
Featuring reflections from past and present team members, 'Partners in Mission', trustees, funders, partners, volunteers and more, it is a story of our 25 years of work in Luton, presented in just 25 minutes! Thank you to Luke Middleton for making our dream become a reality in putting this documentary together.
Please also download our 25th Anniversary Souvenir Booklet by clicking here!
So now... grab some popcorn and make a nice cup of tea, settle back and watch. Please feel free to send us any reflections or thoughts you may have about our documentary to firstname.lastname@example.org - we really hope you enjoy it!
We also have a wonderful animated video which explains the context into which GRASSROOTS was born, what work we have engaged in over the years, and how our work continues to influence and be influenced today! If you enjoy the video above, please check out this one too by clicking here.
Nearly 400 guests from different faiths and cultural backgrounds attended Luton based GRASSROOTS Programme’s 25th Anniversary Celebrations on 22nd March 2018. As an ecumenical Christian programme of community engagement, GRASSROOTS has been delivering with and alongside other Churches and other faith communities, a wide range of programmes enhancing community cohesion and developing positive relationships locally, nationally and internationally.
In the opening act, a candle was lit by 4 different Christian denominational leaders signifying the work of GRASSROOTS which is about lighting a candle rather than cursing the darkness.
HM Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire Helen Nellis and Mayor of Luton Cllr Mohammad Ayub congratulated GRASSROOTS and High Sheriff of Bedfordshire Mr Vinod Tailor gave the prestigious High Sheriff Award to GRASSROOTS in recognition of its services.
The evening’s celebrations were enriched by the very lively and colourful Indian (Gujarathi), Polish and Zimbabwean Folk Singing and Dancing, along with a Circle Dancing display provided by a member of the GRASSROOTS team and other dancers.
In marking the celebrations, GRASSROOTS Team gave away, besides its Souvenir booklet, report and newsletter, also the small jars of locally produced ‘Peace Honey’, packs of Bee friendly seeds, and a small Fairtrade Candle for people to light to defeat darkness wherever they are.
It was all funded by Awards for All from the Big Lottery Fund and the Bedfordshire & Luton Community Foundation. Event sponsors were Bedfordshire Police, The Mall Luton, Bartham Group, Vauxhall, Friends of the Earth, BEH District of The Methodist Church and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Northampton. We thank them all for kindly sponsoring our 25th Anniversary Celebration and making it possible!
David Jonathan, Director, GRASSROOTS, pondered in his reflection over the increasing (not just religious but also) political fundamentalism, majoritarianism and general intolerance and committed not to be a commentator or spectator rather become an active participant.
Quoting from an earlier event held in partnership with Luton Council of Faiths, he said, “We need to write the alternate narrative, not the next one. We need to find peaceful acts of defiance to counter the challenges that we face.”
Fairtrade Fortnight is almost upon us - running from Monday 26th February – Sunday 11th March 2018. When Tokkie Bowman, a banana farmer visited Luton a few years ago, someone asked him why we should buy Fairtrade. His answer was simple and yet very deep! He said: “When you buy Fairtrade, you buy a little bit of humanity too”.
During the Fairtrade Fortnight 2018, Places of Worship can make or renew a commitment:
- Pledging to buy and use Fairtrade products for meetings and events etc
- Encouraging members to do the same in their individual households
What is Fairtrade?
We all know that Fairtrade guarantees producers and farmers a fair price for their produce and labour, which not only helps them stay in business, but also provides to support their families, education, healthcare and sustainable farming methods. Moreover, Fairtrade helps us to eat wholesome food, and not synthetic, artificially manufactured and chemically engineered food.
How can you further do justice during this Fairtrade Fortnight 2018?
HELP US RAISE £1000 FOR FAIRTRADE SUGAR & RICE!
You and/or your congregation/group are encouraged to donate any amount up to £50 or more, to help us meet our target collection of £1000. With this money, we shall buy Fairtrade Sugar and Rice to supplement a stock shortfall, especially of sugar, at the LUTON FOODBANK.
How to make your donation/contribution?
- Cheques payable to ‘GRASSROOTS’ and sent to 47 High Town Road, Luton, Beds, LU2 0BW
- BACS Transfer – The Cooperative Bank - Sort Code: 08-92-99 / Account No: 65797798
- Cash donations can be delivered (at the address above) or call 01582-416946 for a collection to be arranged!
THANK YOU for any support you can provide! Please download the above information in letter format here if needed.
For & on behalf of the Luton Fairtrade Steering Group
In 1991 the world was in the midst of political, social and economic upheaval, and it was within this context that the GRASSROOTS Programme was born. Rooted in Christian faith, GRASSROOTS was a programme of community engagement founded by David Cowling and supported by the help of the Methodist Church and Christian Aid. It soon evolved into a network of different Christian Denominations, Organisations and Trusts.
In its early days, GRASSROOTS acted as a resource for churches, by reassessing the meaning and relevance of the Christian faith, in the world’s struggles, with the help of Project Workers (called Mission Partners) who were invited from other parts of Europe and around the world. Mission Partners led and supported a wide range of projects such as:
- Building Plural Communities in Europe
- The Cutting Edge Project linking the Church with the community
- Rags & Roses – a Community Development Programme in Marsh Farm
- Renewal from the Roots – New Ways of Understanding the Bible
- Changing Perspectives – A Development Awareness Project
- Spirituality, Regeneration and Development
- Justice Spirituality
- Faith in Europe
This work was largely inspired by learning about and having encounters with people from other cultures, and the desire to become more culturally humble and understanding. So why not learn more from the many faiths and cultures at our own doorstep? In 1996, these experiences, which had sown the seeds of inter-faith engagement at GRASSROOTS, led to the creation of the Luton Inter Faith Forum (LIF) which was officially formed the next year. In 2001 this body became the Luton Council of Faiths, or LCoF, as it is still known as today. Since then, in partnership with LCoF and with support from Luton Borough Council, GRASSROOTS has engaged in a wide variety of projects including:
- Hosting the British Council’s ‘Global Exchange Programme’ where Luton had young people from Egypt, Cambodia, Syria, the Philippines and Indonesia come to volunteer
- Developing the Inter Faith Pilgrimage, which evolved into the Faith Walk and is now known as Luton’s Annual Peace Walk
- Helping to transform many green spaces into Peace Gardens
- Receiving many visitors from the UK and overseas for learning and cultural exchanges
As the work of GRASSROOTS continued to grow, the Spirituality of Justice project planted the seeds of the Making Luton a Fairtrade Town campaign in 2007, which flourished with the help of volunteers from across Luton’s faith communities. This support and engagement enabled Luton to become a Fairtrade Town in 2011, and soon after the Luton Fairtrade Steering Group received the accolade of Outstanding Achievement from the Fairtrade Foundation, in recognition of its unique campaigning style and successes.
Today this campaign continues, with an additional focus of promoting the use of environmentally friendly materials, the availability of fairly traded goods to purchase from GRASSROOTS, and the creation of bespoke Fairtrade Gift Hampers.
Between 2010 to 2013, GRASSROOTS developed the unique ‘Faith Woodlands Communities’ Project in partnership with the Luton & Bedford Councils of Faiths, Greensand Trust and the Forestry Commission, which facilitated the creation of nature trails, peace labyrinths and a range of activities in Maulden Woods, which many groups from the community began to utilise, putting people back in touch with nature. In the areas of Art and Culture, GRASSROOTS invited bands like Berakah (a professional band of Jewish, Christian and Muslim musicians) to Luton, holding multicultural evenings of sharing and celebration during One World Week, and presented local talent to hundreds of people who came to join its diverse programmes of events and initiatives. Sport was also utilised as a way of increasing engagement, with Interfaith Cricket Matches between Luton, Leicester, Bedford, Watford and St Albans being held, Interfaith football tournaments supported and then more recently, following the London 2012 Olympics, the development of a 4 year-long Community Archery Programme throughout the town, which proved to be highly successful and has left a legacy of two community archery clubs still running.
Working with Women Across Faiths and Cultures became a significant focus too, with events and initiatives taking place at a very grassroots level in partnership a women’s cooperative group called ‘Ghar Se Ghar’ (Hindi/Urdu words meaning Home to Home). From this stemmed many activities, including trips, workshops and a range of other events including its women-only event called ‘Precious Pearls’, taking place annually during International Women’s Week and which continues to grow in popularity.
As tensions and difficulties increased in the town with the activities of extremist groups from different backgrounds, GRASSROOTS started to deliver Cultural Awareness, Religion and Belief Awareness, and Diversity training programmes to bodies within Luton including Luton Borough Council, the Luton and Dunstable Hospital and the Bedfordshire Police. Interfaith and intercultural awareness remains a key consideration in much of the project work of GRASSROOTS, engaged so heavily in a community as richly diverse as Luton.
As GRASSROOTS has developed a great deal of credibility over the years, it was selected to be one of the National Hubs for the Near Neighbours Programme, which has funded and supported numerous projects across Luton, helping to bring people together and break down barriers. This partnership has also developed the Catalyst Youth Leadership Programme which is being delivered in Luton, helping to engage with and train community leaders of tomorrow.
GRASSROOTS has historically sought to engage with young people by facilitating Youth Conferences which help young people explore complex issues of identity and counter suspicion of ‘the other’ and fear of the unknown. One of GRASSROOTS’ most recent areas of work has been supporting Luton Council of Faiths continue its engagement with young people, delivering various projects in primary schools including the latest initiative which is the delivery of storytelling sessions from various faith traditions, to help empower our future generation at a young age with wisdom and cultural literacy.
This is just a very brief overview of the history of GRASSROOTS and how its work has led up to today, which would simply not be possible without the generous support of its volunteers, partners and funders. The future, as always, is unknown, but whilst society continues to encounter uncertainty, injustice and division, GRASSROOTS will strive to respond as it always has, and continue to offer ‘a different point of view’.
We would like to thank the Big Lottery Fund, Bedfordshire & Luton Community Foundation, Bedfordshire Police, The Mall Luton, Bartham Group, Vauxhall, BEH District of The Methodist Church and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Northampton, for kindly sponsoring our 25th Anniversary Celebration and making it possible!
Women & The Power of Words
GRASSROOTS is happy to announce that it's annual 'Precious Pearls' event will be taking place once again for International Women's Day, where you can:
- Share the talents of Luton women
- Meet women from different backgrounds
- Enjoy yourself with different cultural entertainment
- Enjoy the refreshments provided!
This event will take place on Thursday 8th March 2018 from 6:30pm - 8:30pm at High Town Methodist Church Hall, 47 High Town Road, Luton, Beds, LU2 0BW.
PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS IS A WOMENS ONLY EVENT
For more information please contact Ghar se Ghar or GRASSROOTS:
- Call 01582 416946
- Email email@example.com
- Download the poster here!
GRASSROOTS and the Luton Fairtrade Steering Group is now stocking tastefully created FAIRTRADE CHRISTMAS GIFT HAMPERS. Prices vary between £5-£10-£15-£20-£40.
Let us shop more ethically this Christmas, bearing in mind Fair Trade is NOT CHARITY but it is about JUSTICE AND FAIRNESS, giving people what they deserve.
Astonishingly, despite producing 70% of the world's food, over half of the world's hungriest people are small producer farmers in third world countries. Purchasing their products in fair trade terms means they can have a better training, tools, education, health care and clean water.
We are also continuing to support LOCAL LUTON HONEY.
Additionally, we now have an exciting new range of Gift Bag Sets for any occasion, and you can even come and make your own bespoke Fairtrade Christmas Hamper!
Please click on the DOWNLOAD link to see our catalogue!
Why not give a Fairtrade Christmas Hamper to your loved ones or a neighbour, and someone of a different faith sharing the Joy of Christmas?
For further enquiries or to purchase, please:
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Call 01582 416946
We also encourage you to please circulate these details to colleagues, friends or family who may also be interested. Thank you so much for your continued support of Fair Trade!
'Real People, Honest Talk' is a new strand of work for Near Neighbours (hosted in Luton by GRASSROOTS), that seeks to bring people together in conversation and action around topics of concern to people in a locality. It seeks to create a safe and open space where everyday people, not just ‘community leaders’, can be open and honest about their anxieties and aspirations, and see how community members can work together in addressing these concerns.
It consists of a series of 3 evenings of 90 minutes each, including food and refreshments. The 3 evenings will have a delivered format and a facilitator will be convening the evenings.
- Dates: 1st November, 22nd November & 6th December (All Wednesdays)
- Time: 6:30pm to 8:00pm
- Venue: Marjorie’s Kitchen, 48A High Town Road, Luton, LU2 0DE
Places MUST be booked in advance for catering and seating purposes. Please reserve your place by emailing email@example.com or calling 01582 416946.
(Parking is free after 6pm in Pay & Display Car Parks on Brunswick Street and Wenlock Street, which run parallel to High Town Road, where the venue is).
BURY PARK BEECH HILL COUNCIL OF CHURCHES
Join us on Friday 24th November 2017 at 7pm for some Christmas festivities at Holy Ghost Parish Centre, Westbourne Road, Luton, LU4.
Great Food ~ Live Music ~ Entertainment ~ DJ
There will also be a Fairtrade stall selling a wonderful variety of Festive Goods. Tickets are only £10!
For tickets or information contact Karen (Church Related Community Worker):
- Call: 01582 967265 / 07957 450624
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Download: the poster here!
All proceeds towards the Bury Park Beech Hill Community Work Project
Join us for a magical multi-faith storytelling performance of wisdom drawn from many faith traditions presented by the Khayaal Theatre Company. Refreshments included! This will take place on:
Date: Friday 17th Nov 2017
Time: 18:30 - 20:30
Venue: High Town Methodist Church, 47 High Town Road, Luton, LU2 0BW.
Places are limited and must be booked in advance by:
- Calling us on 01582 416946
- Emailing us at email@example.com
- Downloading the flyer here!
Parking is available in Wenlock Street Car Park (LU2 0NN) behind the Church.
Earlier this summer Luton Council of Faiths (LCoF) launched a ‘Rebuilding Lives’ campaign to support those affected by the Grenfell Tower tragedy. The appeal, which has successfully raised £3000, has already helped 80 people, directly affected by the tragedy, to enjoy a fun day out at Wicksteed Park, bringing some relief, respite and recreation, to some of the families and children that were caught up in the disaster.
Zafar Khan, Chair of LCoF explains that “Luton Council of Faiths has historically run campaigns to support those in need in response to different disasters around the world, but what happened at Grenfell Tower was so shocking and tragic that it was felt Luton could play some small role in helping those affected. Once again, the people of Luton from all faiths and backgrounds, and those of no particular faith affiliation, have come together and shown great generosity and compassion for their fellow man”.
The trip to Wicksteed Park included a visit to its theme park, time spent in it’s beautiful gardens, the opportunity for children to cook a free pizza lunch with their families and a memento from the gift shop to take away with them. Zafar added, “This trip would not have been possible without the help and support of Tracey Clarke, the Community Link Manager from Wicksteed Park, who ensured that families were given a warm and supportive welcome, and that the children had a day packed full of fun activities”.
The trip created many lasting happy memories for the families attending, with one family thanking “all of the staff for making the day special” and another noting that they “enjoyed every bit of the journey”. The biggest impact however was made on the children, one of whom said simply “I enjoyed today and it made me feel very special – it allowed me and my family to bond”.
The campaign was a collaboration between LCoF, GRASSROOTS, Angela Scarlett-Marshall (St Thomas’s Church in Stopsley) and Madit Grant (The Olive Tree Church), further supported by A to B Travel in Luton who kindly provided transport on the day, and volunteers from the SOS Bus, which acts as a point of help and refuge in the town centre on Friday and Saturday nights.
Angela Scarlett-Marshall, the key initiator behind this appeal, joined volunteers accompanying the families and children on the day and said "The smiles on the faces of the children were so gratifying and showed us that this was the right thing to do. I really admire the generosity and contributions in cash or kind, of all donors and contributors, across faiths and cultures in Luton. It was a great day for those attending, made possible only by the kindness of the Luton community”.
Once the costs of the day trip had been taken out, the remaining sum of £1700 was presented to Sean Mendez, the Director of Solidarity Sports, on 13th September 2017 by Angela, Madit and David Jonathan (Director of Luton Council of Faiths). Sean movingly shared stories of both loss and bravery from some of the children they are working with, adding that “we are extremely grateful to the people of Luton for their kind donations. This will help us to continue our programme of activities and trips for those affected by this immense tragedy, and help bring a smile back to many saddened faces”.
Catalyst is a FREE, dynamic youth leadership programme for young people aged 16 - 26 which includes:
- Certification, an enhanced CV and increased employability
- Five days of high quality training (Friday, the final day, is only a 1/2 day!)
- Access to experienced trainers and inspirational speakers
- Practical skills and knowledge around confidence building, effective communication and leadership
- Insight and understanding into intercultural differences, the media, citizenship, democracy and equality law
- Opportunity to discuss and critically think about some of the most pressing issues of our time
- Membership with Catalyst Futures and the chance of gaining a new qualification!
The next course will run on Monday 23rd Oct 2017 to Friday 27th Oct 2017 but places are limited so book now!
For an application form or further information please:
Call 01582 416946
Hope Church is looking for a community worker for High Town (where GRASSROOTS is based), someone who will be active in improving communication, supporting events and welcoming new residents to the area. A little more detail on each of these is provided by Hope Church as follows:
Communication – There are numerous communication networks, which connect the High Town community to events happening in the area and ultimately to each other. These include a ward wide newsletter, currently distributed twice a year and a website – hightownluton.com. These valuable resources have potential, which we hope you can help us realise.
Supporting Events – There are some specific community events, which need support (in particular the High Town Festival), which bring the whole community together creating a space where old friends can re-connect and new relationships can be formed across the community.
Welcome – We recognise the diverse and ever changing nature of the High Town population. We want to put special effort into connecting with those who have recently moved to the area, with a particular focus on refugees and asylum seekers, welcoming them to their new home and community, and enabling them to get stuck in with all they have to offer to their new neighbours.
You will need to:
- work with local people and neighbourhood organisations – including people and groups with a diverse range of faiths and ethnicities;
- facilitate grassroots community action;
- participate in in-house training and support provided by Hope Church
- Initially: 16 hours / week.
- Salary: £10 ph
- Closing date: 15th September 2017
- Interviews: Friday 29th September 2017
Join us for the 21st Annual Peace Walk 2017 – an annual public demonstration of community solidarity to build a stronger Luton by fostering better understanding - on Saturday 23rd September 2017.
This year’s Peace Walk will begin with the launch of a new Peace Garden at High Town Methodist Church and will include a number of different events and activities throughout the afternoon.
The Peace Walk will give you:
- An opportunity to ask questions about different cultures and faith traditions
- Meet new people and make new friends
- Taste a variety of snacks along the way!
Please dress modestly and bring a scarf or head covering.
- 13:30 Gather at High Town Methodist Church (47 High Town Road, Luton, LU2 0BW)
- 14:30 Visit Hope Church Luton (Villa Road, Luton, LU2 7NT)
- 15:30 Visit Bury Park Jamia Mosque (21-27 Bury Park Road, Luton, LU1 1HB)
- 16:30 Finish at Guru Nanak Gurdwara (2a Dallow Road, Luton, LU1 1LY)
If you are driving, please consider parking at the Guru Nanak Gurdwara (address above) and walking to High Town Methodist Church for the start, or parking at the rear of High Town Methodist Church in Wenlock Street Car Park (LU2 0NN).
If you are unable to walk there, please contact us so that we can arrange transportation for you. For more details please contact us on 01582 416946 or firstname.lastname@example.org
You can download the flyer here.
A new crowdfund is being launched to help deliver Catalyst, an exciting and innovative leadership programme in Luton, to help young people aged 16 to 26 from different backgrounds develop into positive role models. Catalyst aims to create a new generation of young leaders who have positive relationships with people of other faiths and ethnicities, and will go on to improve their local communities. The programme helps to develop confidence, skills and opportunities, and strengthens employment prospects for those who take part.
Near Neighbours, which is hosted in Luton at GRASSROOTS, designed Catalyst and has already supported 39 young people from Luton in completing it, some of whom have gone on to become Young Leaders for the US Embassy, work for their local MP's, study at Madrid University, set up a Syrian Kitchen and so much more. If you would like to support more young people in Luton having this opportunity or would like more information, please visit http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/catalyst-course-in-luton.
Day Out in Wicksteed Park for the families and children affected by the Grenfell Tower fire
“Rebuilding Lives” has never been an event.
It is a process that continues after the initial shock and recovery.
This “Rebuilding Lives” campaign of LCoF (Luton Council of Faiths) and GRASSROOTS is to help people affected by the Grenfell Tower Fire Tragedy in West London. We have previously had “Rebuilding Lives” Fundraising Campaigns for:
1) Tsunami victims and survivors in Galle, Sri Lanka (2004-05)
2) Earthquake victims and survivors in Namnotta, Kashmir (2005-06)
3) Flood victims and survivors in Pakistan (2010-11)
4) Earthquake victims and survivors in Haiti and Chile (2010-11)
5) Floods in Bosnia and Herzegovina (2014-15)
In every crisis, we have had people here in Luton, advising us on sending help. This time our colleagues and volunteers Angela Scarlett Marshall of St Thomas Church (Stopsley) and Madit Grant of The Olive Tree Church (Biscot), are proposing to organise a DAY OUT for the Grenfell Tower Fire survivors by end of August 2017.
This tragedy has been shocking and overwhelming but every time, people from all religions and ethnicities, and people of no particular faith affiliation in Luton, have responded generously. So, if you are able to help, you can do so in the following ways:
a) BACS Transfer via Cooperative Bank – Account Number: 65066380 / Sort Code: 08-92-99
b) Cheques payable to ‘Luton Council of Faiths’ sent to 47 High Town Road, Luton, LU2 0BW
(for both BACS transfers and cheques please add a reference stating ‘Grenfell’)
c) Make a donation online at https://cafdonate.cafonline.org/6787
d) Cash donations delivered at GRASSROOTS, 47 High Town Road, Luton, LU2 0BW
(or call 01582 416946 and we can arrange collection)
As they say, every little helps!
For more details or press interviews please contact Angela Scarlett Marshall on 07908 759 004. Thank you for any support you can give. The above information can also be downloaded here.
We, the Luton Council of Faiths (LCoF), a voluntary body of Luton’s different faiths and cultures, are again deeply shocked following Sunday evening terror attack while Muslim worshipers were leaving the Ramadan prayer in the Finsbury Park area in London. It has caused numerous causalities and has left one dead.
We strongly condemn such vile, revengeful, barbaric and cowardly act which is fuelled by hate. Targeting people because of their faith is a betrayal of British values of tolerance, respect and kindness which is the foundational base of our society. “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind!” Hats off to the Imam who handled this difficult situation promptly and bravely protecting the perpetrator and handing him over to the Police despite he said he wanted to kill Muslims. In the eye of the storm, he stopped the cycle of violence and hate, while Muslim community has stayed calm and cooperated with the Police.
This attack coincided with Jo Cox MP’s first death anniversary. In Luton many of us were invited at Medina Mosque yesterday evening to celebrate her life remembering her famous quote “We are far more united and have more in common that which divides us”. This was followed by the breaking of fast with our Muslims friends. It is such continuous acts of kindness, friendship and mutual support that help us stay firm and resolute in stopping the forces of division. We need to nurture values and good character in our communities to combat extremism while staying vigilant.
We call upon authorities and media to deal with such matters justly. We also urge the government to apply the same determination to combat extremism, incitement to hate and radicalisation by far-right groups, who are openly spreading hate on social media and intentionally causing tensions and creating hate videos in front of the East London Mosque at a time when worshipers were preparing for prayers and busy in service to their neighbourhood following the tragic Grenfell Tower Fire.
With a rise of hate crime, Bedfordshire Police alongside other communities urges anyone who experiences racist, verbal or physical abuse to call 101 or 999 in an emergency. People can also report online via www.report-it.org.uk.
As Luton Council of Faiths, we therefore reaffirm our hope, pledge and strong resolve, to continue playing an active role in creating an environment of understanding and respect among the many religious and culturally diverse communities, locally and where possibly influencing globally. We continue to stay in solidarity. Too many lives have been lost - enough is enough!
You can download the full statement here.