Interfaith News – Interfaith Network

The Interfaith Network has been promoting understanding, cooperation and good relations between organisations and persons of different faiths in the UK since 1987.

For a number of years, even prior to our application to join as the Pagan Federation in 2014, Pagan Federation officers have had the honour and pleasure of working with the staff at the Interfaith Network. Of particular note are Dr. Harriet Crabtree OBE, Hannah Cassidy and Ashley Beck, all of whom, in addition to extensive knowledge, skills and experience, have brought person skills of diplomacy and tact to their work with faith community representatives. Often, in times where tensions between communities and within communities could easily have exploded into hostility, Dr. Crabtree Hannah Cassidy and Ashley Beck have calmly, gently and diplomatically supported representatives of those communities in navigating a path towards constructive dialogue and, importantly, a sense of having their grievances heard. Rare skills indeed, and so vitally important in our world today.

It is hard to envisage how our nation might have been without the work of the IFN and its staff, particularly through times of great challenge to the nation where acts of hatred and terror have made individual communities and wider society feel their safety was under threat.

The Interfaith Network has provided support and guidance to companies, voluntary organisations, local and national government bodies, health organisations, sporting bodies and many more organisations and individuals in their efforts to acknowledge and include the incredibly diverse range of religious and spiritual worldviews found within the citizenship of our nation, providing them with opportunities to communicate directly with collected representatives of those diverse communities who make up the nearly 200 member organisations of the Interfaith Network. Through the Interfaith week initiative, IFN has provided a platform for a wide range of organisations to explore and expand their work in championing understanding of diversity and fostering positive relations between people and communities.

Whilst it is possible, and even to be hoped that, over time, much of this work can be replicated and even built upon, what cannot be replicated are the person skills brought to the work by IFN staff. If or when the Interfaith Network closes, that will be lost, not only to the Pagan community, but to wider society, and our nation will be the poorer for it.

The Pagan Federation, no doubt along with all member bodies of IFN and all organisations and bodes that have benefited from the work of IFN owe a debt of gratitude to the staff of the Interfaith Network, and are deeply saddened that the Interfaith Network is at grave risk of imminent closure. Should that closure prove unavoidable, we hope that IFN staff find rewarding employment elsewhere, ideally in ways that enable us to work together once again.

Mike Stygal
Pagan Federation Interfaith Manager