Inter Faith Week a reminder of just how far town has come | Burnley Council leader Afrasiab Anwar column
Each year, Inter Faith Week begins on Remembrance Sunday to encourage people to remember the contributions of all faiths and none, and to consider how best to create a just, peaceful, and harmonious world.
Inter Faith Week provides a focal point to open up inter faith activity to a wider audience.
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.
Building Bridges in Burnley organised activities across the borough this past week to bring people together from different backgrounds to celebrate diversity and commonality.
The week started with the Remembrance Service in the Peace Gardens followed by a Faith walk, taking in the United Reformed Church on Bethesda St, Shah Jalal Islamic Centre in Stoneyholme, the Olive School on Ormerod Road and the Central Methodist Church in Burnley town centre.
Volunteers delivered assemblies all week at Blessed Trinity Roman Catholic College and over a hundred people from local community organisations attended the annual fundraising dinner at the Usha.
Celebrating 10 years of Near Neighbours projects being delivered across Lancashire, it was wonderful to hear local grassroots groups sharing their inspirational stories of how they had broken down barriers and got to know their neighbours.
There were a number of events throughout the week but the highlight for me was the annual Interfaith Football Tournament organised in partnership with Burnley FC in the Community, bringing together young people from across Burnley, at the Spirit of Sport in a friendly tournament.
The participants, parents and volunteers then attended the Burnley v Crystal Palace game at Turf Moor courtesy of Burnley FC.
For many, this was their first experience watching a game at Turf Moor and the joy on their faces when Maxwel Cornet scored the equaliser was priceless.
There is still lots to do but the work Burnley FC in the Community are doing to engage local communities with a range of innovative projects is fantastic.
I was delighted to see the great work that was taking place, not only bringing people together but also showcasing the best of our communities.
The work in Burnley has not gone unnoticed, with regional and national organisations using it as an example of good practice.
Our faith communities must be commended for the way they stepped up at the height of the pandemic and continue to work in collaboration regardless of race, religion, or culture to support the most vulnerable. Proof that we have much more in common than that which divides us.
Inter Faith Week is a reminder of how far we have come as a town.
Thanks to the great work of organisations like Building Bridges in Burnley and in particular the strong relationships between communities and grassroots organisations we have changed perceptions of our borough and will continue to do so.
Just like our football team we continue to punch above our weight as a town and change hearts and minds.
It is this welcoming approach that allows us to move forward as a borough.