Opinion: What makes a place our home?

To Rev Canon Cllr Ann Easter, commissioner for InterFaith Dialogue, Newham is home.

To Rev Canon Cllr Ann Easter, commissioner for InterFaith Dialogue, Newham is home. - Credit: Archant

In my new role as Commissioner for InterFaith Dialogue, I recently hosted our first meeting of Newham United for some representatives of faith groups in the borough.

More than one hundred people talked, listened and ate supper as we began to think how people of faith might work together with the council and other partners to make our Newham an even better, more integrated place.

We agreed that, wherever we come from, Newham, for us, is Home.

And, at it's best, Home is the place where we can be ourselves; the place where we feel safe and contented, where we can confidently float ideas which might elsewhere be considered fanciful, and where we can depend on support and sympathy when we need it - though, of course, the flip side of that is that Home is also the place where care and consideration is expected of us too.

Our contribution to that Home, whether big or small, is valued and respected and we are encouraged to grow into the best person we can be.

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So, how does that translate for faith groups in our borough? First of all, I'd say that most faiths subscribe to the importance of the dignity of the individual and the need to feel able to go about our lives free from fear. We want to be able to seek help and advice, to volunteer and to join in with everything we want to; we want our young people to have an inspiring vision of how the world might be and our seniors to dream dreams in peace and tranquillity - or in technicolour cacophony if they prefer!

Naturally, there are issues on which we differ but people of faith want to be able to discuss those things openly and without rancour - wouldn't it be so bad if we were all the same?

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Our meeting was but the beginning of a programme of events and activities and I look forward to being part of it.

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