LOCAL COMMUNITY JOIN THE FASTING EXPERIENCE
As part of a community cohesion initiative, One Voice are inviting non Muslims to fast for a day during the month of Ramadan.
‘I’m not a Muslim but I will fast for one day’ was in its fourth year, with members of the public, officials from major local organisations, from the public and private sector taking part.
Ramadan is the holy Islamic month where Muslims forgo food and water between sunrise and sunset. A third of the population of Blackburn and Darwen is made up of the Muslim community. This year Ramadan in the UK consisted of a 19 and a half hour fast approximately.
The campaign was supported by local restaurant Bukhara Samlesbury who provided food for all participants when opening their fast.
Geoff Wilkinson, who also took part in the Ramadan initiative last year, and fasted for two days said,
“One of the reasons some of my colleagues fast during Ramadan is to consider those less fortunate than themselves. I took part in this initiative last year and I found it uplifting. I did not feel hunger or thirst. I could do something about those feelings later on. No, the experience made me think of those who feel hunger and thirst all the time and perhaps think of what can be done to help them. Regardless of creed or colour, we should do more to help those who can’t help themselves. Initiatives like this can make a difference and I am pleased that I can again play a part.”
Suzanne Johnson, Tracey Cowburn, Lyndsey Lang and Christine Pearson from Lancashire Care also fasted for a day.
Christine said, “It’s been hard work. But it really makes you appreciate your food.”
Tracy Stuart, Vice Principal of Blackburn College got involved in a bid to show solidarity with her Muslim students.
“I am taking part in this initiative to show empathy with our students understanding the self-discipline they show in the middle of their exam season.”
Following his participation last year, Ken Barnsley fasted on three separate days this Ramadan as part of the community cohesion initiative.
“I’m doing this to show solidarity with the 1.6bn Muslims around the world and with Muslim friends and colleagues. I did one day last year and found it a remarkable experience and can only admire the resolve of Muslims in their annual personal challenge. There is some evidence to suggest that intermittent fasting is beneficial for health.”
Vicky Shepherd and Elaine Jennings from Age UK Blackburn With Darwen also fasted for a day for the second consecutive year.
“This is the second year that our organisation has taken part in the initiative. We are both taking part to support community cohesion and our colleagues and friends that are fasting too.”
Carol Beardsworth from Blackburn Carers found the fasting project a ‘spiritual’ experience.
“I decided to take part in fasting because being a Christian I have a great respect for people of other faiths and I wanted to experience what it was like to fast. I felt it would be similar to my Lent however I am finding it much more than that. I am enjoying more time for spiritual devotions and prayer times. I am feeling more at peace and calm within myself and enjoying all the discussions we have around fasting with my Muslim colleagues.”
Sam Morris, CEO of Blackburn Carers also fasted for a day.
Sam said, “I am fasting to show my respect and support to my team who are fasting during Ramadan. My team are coming into work and supporting carers, carrying out all their duties, however are not eating and drinking. The days are warm and long and this takes resilience, dedication and will power. Furthermore, there are many people in our country and outside our country that do without food and drink every day. By fasting I can try and imagine what it might be like for those less fortunate. It’s an opportunity for reflection and contemplation.”
Carla Benaron, Helen Wiggan, Keely Smith and Steph Garnett from Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service also got involved in the campaign.
The team said, “The staff wanted to know what it felt like to fast as well as support their colleagues and have taken up the challenge wholeheartedly.”
Jackie McVan, Service Manager at Change Grow Live fasted for three consecutive days.
“I felt this year it was even more important to fast, to show solidarity with my friends after some of the awful and tragic events of late. We share in so many things; love, laughter, care, faith and humility. This is my way of saying – we are one!”
Chris Seddon took part in the initiative to show empathy with her Muslim friends.
“I’m not a Muslim but I’m fasting today because friends share experiences and I have many Muslim friends who I want to support by fasting for one day. Many of my friends have families who are in dire situations in different parts of the world who are without their homes and struggle every day to find enough to eat. Surely I can walk in their shoes for at least one day.”
Ben Taylor from Blackburn College got involved in the initiative alongside Julie Olsson after seeing many students at the college partaking in Ramadan.
“I’m taking part to understand better what our Muslim community in and around Blackburn experience when they fast and also to gain a greater appreciation for what our students must be feeling at this time as they undertake exams.”
Teresa Kirby and Naomi Wood from Your Support Your Choice took part as well as Sarah Johns and Amelia Walker from Blackburn Youth Zone.
A whopping 22 people from East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust also got involved.
Suzanne Lang. Senior Finance Officer at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust said,
“We wanted to take part in the fast in support of our Muslim colleagues who are fasting and we are using the event to fundraise for one of our colleagues who is seriously injured following a recent motorcycle accident. Tragically his wife was killed in the accident.”
Phil Jones, Lee Coultard, Laurence Fry, Dawn Lee and Angela Ditchfield from NHS Blood and Transplant also fasted as part of the Ramadan initiative.
Zubair Patel, from Bukhara Samlesbury, were pleased to have supported the project.
“We have been involved with the fasting project for the last three years, and it seems to be growing each each year. It is truly amazing what the local non Muslim people have accomplished in keeping the fasts. We have helped in a very small way, and look forward to supporting the vebture in future years.”
Abrar Hussain, Chairman of One Voice, was equally delighted with the eforrts of the local community,
“At this time of year the Muslim community take time to reflect on their lives and their spirituality. This year, more so than any other year, the importance of community cohesion was very important. This project started with a few people fasting as non-Muslims. It has grown to something quite outstanding where we had over 100 taking part. This is a great sign of our unity.”
To get involved next year, please email email@example.com
3rd Year of Ramadan Initiative – 2016
In 2016 a number of organisations and individuals took part in the community cohesion initiative.
Geoff Wilkinson, Locality Project Officer, Blackburn West, Community CVS was the first person to fast in last year’s initiative.
“I am fasting for a day during Ramadan to show solidarity with my work mates as part of their religious observance.
“Fasting during Ramadan teaches Muslims self-discipline, self-control, sacrifice and empathy for those less fortunate. These are four lessons that everybody could do with learning.”
Having fasted for one day, Geoff felt inclined to fast another day to experience the sense of empathy.
“I fasted on the first day of Ramadan and it was an uplifting experience. Instead of thinking I was hungry or thirsty, I thought of the people who had very little of either. It was a good experience and I was glad to have played my part in raising awareness.
“When I spoke to friends and colleagues in Community CVS who fast for the month, they had nothing but admiration for me. I asked them which day of Ramadan is the most holy, the most important to their faith – on that day, I will fast again. That day is Sunday, the 27th day of Ramadan.”
Jackie McVan, Service Manager at CGL, Inspire and GO2 fasted in late June 2016.
Jackie said, “I am doing this to offer support to partners, colleagues and friends that are fasting, and to understand more about the process around fasting, the faith, Ramadan and breaking the fast in the evening.”
Derek Estill, Blackburn with Darwen Interfaith Forum Secretary also took part in the initiative, although he had previously experienced fasting last year alongside friends.
“Last year I took part, along with other Christian colleagues, in opening the fast with friends at a local mosque.
“This was as part of the East Blackburn Faith Leaders Forum programme. The BwD Interfaith Forum have been encouraging and supporting local churches and mosques to get to know and better understand each other. I am happy to accept One Voice’s invitation and will fast on the 10th June.”
Having concluded the fast, Derek spoke of his focus during the day.
“Having successfully completed a fast from 02.30 to 21.31 yesterday I can say that whilst challenging, I did find that being mindful of not eating and drinking during these hours did focus my mind on those who face this challenge on a daily basis and reminded me to hold them, where ever they are, in my prayers.
“As a Christian I was also pleased to be able to show solidarity with Muslim friends who were doing the same and would like to wish all those fasting either as part of Ramadan or in other ways my best wishes and thanks for this opportunity to take part.”
Simone Taylor and Michelle McCusker from Brook Charity also took part in the campaign.
“I took part to support colleagues from Brook and external agencies and I would like to find out more about Ramadan.”
Dominic Harrison, Director of Public Health for Blackburn with Darwen took part in the Ramadan campaign.
“I was delighted but daunted to be joining my Muslim friends and colleagues in a day’s fasting from food and water for Ramadan. I was in meetings most of the day with some travelling. Compared to the efforts of the Muslim community in Blackburn with Darwen, I am aware this this was only a symbolic gesture – but it is one I am honoured to make.
“There is some evidence that for healthy people intermittent fasting can improve your health but I am aware the real purpose of fasting in Ramadan is moral and spiritual. Fasting and real hunger reminds us that there are people in the world who do not have the means to meet their basic human needs and that it is all of our responsibilities to do what we can to show solidarity and compassion through generous giving.
“During Ramadan, UK Islamic charities will raise will over £100m to help those in need in the UK and abroad. Whatever faith you have or if you have none – such Islamic practices and traditions can only be seen as functioning for the good of the whole community.”
Rebekah Wilson from The WISH Centre, Blackburn & Darwen District Without Abuse fasted on June 15.
“I fasted to support of my Muslim friends, family and colleagues during this special time of year. I also wanted to show a token of my solidarity with the millions around the world who are experiencing real hunger and need but, unlike me, have no choice in that.”
Other participants included Teresa Kirby and Sarah Nataraj from Your Support Your Choice and Phil Riley, Deputy Leader of BwD Council.
Phil Riley said,
“I’m took part in this initiative as a small contribution to understand better this religious festival that is so important to a large number of Blackburn residents.
Charity Community Integrated Care who recently launched a dementia service in Blackburn had 10 members of staff who fasted for a day. Phil Benson, Service Manager at Community Integrated Care said,
“I took part in this initiative as a small contribution to understand better this religious festival that is so important to a large number of Blackburn residents. ”
The team from Advocacy Focus participated in the initiative and fasted for a day.
Lauren Lovelace said,
“We found it to be a really rewarding experience and were proud to be a part of this initiative. Not only did it give us an increased appreciation of what our Muslim colleagues endure during Ramadan, it also helped us to appreciate how difficult it is for those less fortunate than us.”
Chris Seddon, is a regular participatant and she plans to fast again this year.
“Many of my friends and people I spend time with have families and friends in Syria, Iraq, Eritrea and other countries who have gone for long periods of time without food and water or a roof over their heads.
“I wanted to support all my Muslim friends at this time by sharing one day of fasting especially for those who have no choice. I am proud of myself to having being able to fast for a day.
Head of Research at Blackburn with Darwen Public Health, Kenneth Barnsley also fasted as part of the ‘I’m not a Muslim but I will fast (for one day)’ campaign.
Ken said, “I have always been hugely impressed by the commitment of my Muslim colleagues during Ramadan and I wanted to go some way to understanding what it feels like to fast for a day.”
Claire Frost, head of marketing at Blackburn College also took part in the campaign.
Claire said, “There are many Muslim staff and students at Blackburn College and University Centre Blackburn College. I wanted to share their experiences of Ramadan by fasting for a day. It was a lot tougher than I thought and I have so much admiration for all those who can manage to complete the full 29 or 30 days.”
Zaffer Khan, Head of Communications at One Voice,
“Ramadan is a time of year when the whole community of Blackburn and Darwen get together and this is best demonstrated with many people who fasted for a day to gain an insight into what their neighbours experience over a whole month. We were overwhelmed by the togetherness of our communities during the last month.”
If you are interested in taking part please email: firstname.lastname@example.org