SEEFF ANNUAL CONFERENCE 2021

WHO CARES?

CARE, DIGNITY, GRIEF AND FAITH IN THE TIME OF COVID19

Read the Full SEEFF Conference 2021 Report Here

The Conference was held via Zoom on Wednesday 6th October 2021.

Kawther Hashmi, Chair of South East England Faith’s Forum (SEEFF) began with an introduction followed by a minute silence.

Dr Harriet Crabtree, Executive Director, Interfaith Network UK spoke first with reflections over the pandemic and set the scene. Dr Crabtree spoke of the astonishingly rapid response that faith communities made in the face of widespread illness and death, particularly in terms of meeting practical needs and providing pastoral care. Minority communities faced disproportionately high death rates including those amongst health professionals. Normality was denied – not being able to be present at the death of loved ones or to gather for funerals. Faith bodies were quick to increase the use of technologies – zoom, skype and streaming etc. While this was a time of sorrow and difficulty there are positives, such as closer working relationships between faith communities and learning which will be positive for the future

Jason Mather, Head of Client Services, Citizens Advice in West Sussex (North, South, East) talked about two projects they conducted to explore the disparity of Covid-19 with the Crawley BAME Communities. The projects were done by survey, interviews with focus groups and reached also on social media. Mather said that the study concluded four major insights on BAME communities: Information gaps, Communication and language barriers, Worries about access to healthcare and other support services and the Lack of trust in the government. The NHS inclusion services came up with some recommendations like; continuous engagement, establish trust, simple language to engage, transparency is key to engagement, early support with other issues to prevent disparity between health and social inequalities and improve the relationships between healthcare settings and community.

Citizens Advice West Sussex Report: Exploring the disparity of Covid-19 with the
Crawley BAME Community

Dr David Knight, Spiritual Care Lead, Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust talked about end-of-Life Care and Faith. He stressed the importance of end-of-life care from the spiritual perspective. He said that UK is the world leader in end-of-life care. The spiritual care offered by the services. NHS was remarkable in dealing with this huge, unprecedented problem. Despite the isolation in NHS wards, the ability to adapt to cope was amazing. However, he cautioned: “We have overdone the isolation that it went into inhuman domain – end of life care particularly in care homes and maternity wards.”

Dr Sohail Bhatti, Director of Public Health, Slough Borough Council talked about How Care was supplied by the health sector in Slough during the Covid crisis. Dr Bhatti apologised that he was very new to Slough, so that he would offer his experiences as an epidemiologist. Dr Bhatti talked about his experiences in Gibraltar which was a small community, and it was not difficult to shut everyone and close the frontier.

The first step was to turn care homes into hospitals for elderly. Because they were a connected, small community, one loss of life was too many. They did not have any issues with PPE “Brexit helped us” he said jokingly. There was no treatment in place but a very effective lockdown. So they had no deaths until November 2020. But this had a negative impact because people did not believe this was a series disease there; they did not grasp the gravity of the threat.

Laurence Gamlen, Chaplain at St Peter’s & Ashford hospitals spoke about his personal experience of loss due to Covid-19. Gamlen said that he had many losses to Covid and listed: “A loss of my own health, the loss of my partner’s health; my son caught covid on holiday; loss of my composure – trembling, loss of a faith community leader; loss of certainty – I like order and predictability; loss of volunteers – who visited patients in care; loss of control over my time; loss of focus on my work; loss of temper; loss of faith in god occasionally..”

Jamie Green, Slough Council for Voluntary Services talked about How Care was organised by social organisations during the Covid crisis. Green Introduced the model #OneSlough which is an excellent example how Slough Borough Council, Clinical Commissioning Group, NHS Frimley health, Thames Valley Police, Public Health Slough and Slough CVS came together to create a joint community response to Covid. Their mission was: “We will do whatever it takes to keep our most vulnerable residents as safe as possible during this dangerous time. We will be united under #OneSlough Brand, No Egos, No Logos and we will work for our residents, we work for our own town.” It is a Voluntary Sector Forum set up in March 2020 with 55 faith and community group attending weekly to respond to imminent need, everything fed into a database of vulnerable people to create resilience against loneliness. It is a partnership Working by utilising furloughed staff and unused spaces, to make and distribute food. Main aim was to cut through red tape. Set up call centres to identify the most needy and address their needs, from food to loneliness through befriending teams.” He concluded that their 2040 vision is to embed #OneSlough into everything, set up a business plan, to strengthen the infrastructure, continue the steering group, create a larger database of the vulnerable and create strong, healthy and attractive neighbourhoods.

Dr Zafar Iqbal, Senior Policy Officer, Woking Borough Council talked about personal experience of loss due to Covid-19. He told us that his children got infected from school. Following that his aunt, himself, his wife, and children all had Covid. His aunt got it very bad and passed away within four hours after she was hospitalised. He, himself got it very bad too, taken to hospital – isolation was very serious, two week in hospital, eight of these days were touch and go.

During his stay, a particular person, a nurse, Anna, he saw her as his guardian angel. He said: “She caressed my head and said don’t worry. I felt like my mother caressing my head. I believe in the power of prayer; they were praying for me. It wasn’t just my Muslim friends, Christian friends fasted for me.” He continued: “I couldn’t go to my aunt’s funeral. My nephew helped to arrange the funeral.

Revd Canon Dr Joanna Collicutt, Supernumerary Fellow, Harris Manchester College, Oxford gave an introduction to her talk on Avoiding Science. Dr Collicutt talked about Psychology of religion and how faith communities were seen as scapegoats. We are aware that there is misinformation spreading and setting conditions in our societies.

There were Q&A sessions throughout the conference and a total of 45 people joined on zoom.

Recordings of the conference are available in three parts:

Part one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFG24Bz3l14

Dr Harriet Crabtree, Executive Director, Interfaith Network UK

Jason Mather, Head of Client Services, Citizens Advice in West Sussex (North, South, East)

Dr Sohail Bhatti, Director of Public Health, Slough Borough Council

Jamie Green (Chairman, Slough Council for Voluntary Services (SCVS)

Dr David Knight, Spiritual Care Lead, Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust

Laurence Gamlen, Chaplain at St Peter’s & Ashford hospitals

 

Part two: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDCj1E0Eauc

Dr Zafar Iqbal, Senior Policy Officer, Woking Borough Council

Revd Canon Dr Joanna Collicutt, Supernumerary Fellow, Harris Manchester College, Oxford

 

Part three: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFyWVi16pfc

Avoiding Science: Revd Canon Dr Joanna Collicutt, Supernumerary Fellow, Harris Manchester College, Oxford

 

 

 


Twelve Years to Save the Planet?

SEEFF 2019 Annual Conference Report

South East England Faith Forum’s 2019 Annual Conference examined faith, belief and non-faith perspectives on climate change, and the influence and impact that faith and non-faith groups can and should have on the future of our planet.

Read the full report here

 


SEEFF Statement on the NZ Mosque Terror Attacks


A new resource by the Interfaith Network UK – 

Looking After One Another: The Safety and Security of our Faith Communities

Screen Shot 2017-09-14 at 09.32.49Practical pointers for responding jointly to attacks on places of worship; working for calm in times of tension; and working to build and strengthen good inter faith relations.

This document is published by the Inter Faith Network for the UK (IFN) in partnership with the Department for Communities and Local Government, the Home Office, the Crown Prosecution Service, the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the National Fire Chiefs’ Council.

The document contains guidance on responding jointly to attacks on places of worship; working for calm at times of tension; and working to build on and strengthen existing good inter faith relations. It contains material about how and where to report hate incidents, cyber-attacks, and actual or suspected terrorist activity; where to find information on strengthening the security of buildings; and where to find information about working to build – and strengthen – good inter faith relations locally.

These practical pointers for responding in solidarity have particular resonance at the present time when there is a need to watch out for the wellbeing of any groups who may be targeted because of terrorist actions which claim, or are perceived by some, as having a link to them.

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