Faithful of Newham unite to promote religious harmony
- Credit: Archant
Hundreds of Newham worshippers joined politicians at a conference to promote co-operation between religions.
Mayor of Newham Sir Robin Wales and MP for East Ham Stephen Timms met with Christians, Muslims and Sikhs to celebrate the borough’s diversity of faith.
Manor Park Faith Forum’s Shiraz Kothia said the 250 who gathered at the event at Stratford’s Old Town Hall on Monday last week were reminded of the importance of unity.
“As a community we have achieved great things together, but there is still much to do,” he said.
“We face many issues as we move forward such as poverty, unemployment, homelessness and mental health challenges. It is imperative that we continue helping each other.”
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Newham Council organised the conference, which is the second of its kind, and hosted “breakout sessions” to help establish a stronger borough community.
Sessions focused on voluntary work, citizenship and tackling loneliness, with Sir Robin saying the borough does better when its people stick together.
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“I believe that we achieve more when people of all backgrounds and faiths work together,” he said.
“Newham is the most diverse place in the country, with nearly 200 languages spoken.
“This is one of our greatest strengths, but in tough times it can raise challenges as well as opportunities – we must always stand up against those who seek to divide us.”
The meeting also celebrated the work of local worshippers, with Shiraz praising a joint effort that saw councillors work with mosques to raise £10,000 for the York Disaster Appeal after flooding devastated the city.
And he praised local fundraisers who generated more than £300,000 for Syrian refugees.
The European Parliament’s Claude Moraes, who chairs the civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee, addressed the conference in a video, referring to Newham as “trail-blazing” in its support for faith groups.