Published on June 10th, 2013 | by HOHBrian


The Front Room in the Park – Faith and Food Festival 2013

Inside Handsworth – George’s Park, vivid green in the sunlight. Hundreds of people of all faiths strolling, playing, chatting, going in and out of the large marquee full of stalls, sharing food, watching the acts on stage. On the breeze, jerk chicken and the sound of a sitar.

A small Muslim girl is doing something small girls love doing – completing a test, trying to get them all right, trying to do it before anyone else, but she’s stuck on the last one:

9. Buddhists traditionally do which of the following on Vesak, the holiday celebrating the       birth, life and death of Buddha?

     Compose song                      Prune shrubs                  Burn old clothes                  Release animals

DSCF0073Someone points out a white haired Buddhist gentleman talking to others at the far end of the marquee. She runs its full length and pushes herself into view with her sheet. She is given time, listened to respectfully and thoughtfully, and provided with the answer she needs. The world has become a bigger and more interesting place, which is safe and enjoyable to explore.

We all need this just now.

Lozells is often described as a place where different communities lead parallel lives. For the second year in a row, Lozells Faith Forum, drawn from the different faiths in the area, have obtained grant funding (this year from Community First, The Lozells Project, The East West Trust and Awards for All), to put on an event which uses the sharing of food from different cultures as the basis for bringing about encounters which nourish understanding and trust. The results are not easy to capture in statistics, but they are many times more powerful, with the ability to supply the optimism, hope and openness which we need our young people to carry forward into the future. Ten years ago George’s Park was a gang-ridden war zone. Thanks are due to all those who helped bring about that change, and to Lozells Faith Forum for showing us a way ahead.







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3 Responses to The Front Room in the Park – Faith and Food Festival 2013

  1. Gillian Lloyd says:

    I was delighted to read of the success of this year’s Faith and Food festival. Lozells Faith Forum was set up through the process of bringing faith leaders together to compile the first Faith in Lozells newspaper about 4 years ago. Working together on the newspaper set the foundations for the forum and under Pall Singh’s leadership it has obviously flourished and continued to be an active force for good in Lozells. The funding for the newspaper came from the Successful Neighbourhoods fund. It is good to follow the trail and chart the success of that particular pot of public money. My best wishes to the Faith Forum for its continued work.

    Gillian Lloyd formerly Neighbourhood Manager for Lozells.

  2. admin says:

    Thanks for the comment, and for raising the questions you did. It’s great to have some dialogue. I don’t know enough myself to be clear how far people are living parallel lives – I was thinking about conclusions reached in the report of the Handsworth and Lozells Dialogue Programmme in 2009. The impression of Georges Park approx. 10 years ago is based on recent discussions with young people who went through the Youth Inclusion Project, their parents, and the youth workers – one person who lived by the park said she and others were afraid to walk their children to school through the park because of the number of attacks that had taken place. But it comes down to individual experiences and perceptions, and I maybe shouldn’t have been so definite about it. Thanks again.

  3. Aftab Rahman says:

    Hello Brian,

    Thank you for the article, it is very good. There are a couple of points that I would like to raise. I am not sure that people in Lozells lead parallel live, in all my years, I am yet to see a more cohesive place with people getting on with each other. I am not sure you correct in saying that Georges park was gang ridden – agreed it was in need of repair and there were young people causing some anti social behavior. But, it was never that bad….

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