Barbara and Bhavesh had often met and chatted over the past five years when Barbara shopped in the store that Bhavesh manages. They then sat at the same table at the Hodge Hill ‘Unsung Heroes’ event and really got to know each other. They were both nominated as heroes – Barbara for being a good friend to people and Bhavesh for his work with the school. ‘Unsung Heroes’ recognised local people who made a difference in their community.
"Our friendship makes a lot of difference. It is good to see a friendly face, it makes you feel safe and nice."
Carla and Hassan became friends at the Faith Guiding course. A group of seven Muslims, one Christian, one Buddhist and one Jew trained together to show visitors around their places of worship. Carla was getting married a week after the final session and the whole group clubbed together to buy her a surprise wedding present. The present was given to her in the synagogue which they visited as part of the final session.
Carla: ‘The friendship has given me the confidence to talk to Muslims. I had felt apologetic for being Jewish. Now I know I have no need to hide my faith. I have been accepted by them.’
Hassan: ‘Our friendship has challenged misconceptions. We have exchanged views and now we know each other.’
Chris applied to Near Neighbours on behalf of the Summerfield Residents Association to run a gardening project to bring local people together and encourage better use of green spaces. Chris says that through the gardening project everyone has made connections with new people, seen difference sides of one another and gained a greater sense of belonging. This view is echoed by others in the group. Daniel felt very isolated, then heard about the gardening project through a leaflet drop and now he is glad that having met some local people he can connect in wider ways. Ann, who has been battling cancer over recent years, says the project has helped her feel more connected at a time when she has needed people around her. Ernie says Ann has been an inspiration in dealing with illness and Daniel was someone he would have seen as a ‘hippy’ but now enjoys working with him.
Location: The Ark, Summerfield Photographer: Dharmendra Patel, Outroslide Photography
Anika Ali & Sapphire Griffith
Anika: Muslim Sapphire: Christian
Sapphire and Anika met when they took part in the Light Project, organised by One Small Barking Dog, a film and media charity supported by The Feast, an interfaith youthwork charity. The young people were shown pictures of lights and asked to reflect on the images and write meditations. These have been captured and made into a DVD. They now keep in touch through Facebook and The Feast.
"Our friendship shows that you can get along with someone not the same as you."
Location: Springfield Centre, Moseley Photographer: Dharmendra Patel, Outroslide Photography
Jenny Warbrick & Saraya Hussain
Jenny: Christian Saraya: Muslim
Jenny and Saraya met through a Christian Muslim forum residential conference. They spoke to each other for 30 seconds in an ice-breaker game and discovered both had the same favourite colour – blue. The group of women who met at the conference continues to meet at events and for meals in each other’s homes. Recently Saraya organised a collection for harvest working with Jenny’s church. The collection by ISRA-Feed the poor and All Saints Kings Heath brought in 235 kgs of food – enough to provide 450 meals.
"There is more that binds us together than keeps us apart. We have daughters the same age and we have lots to talk about. It’s about building bridges, not walls."
Qais and Reuben worked with Mohammed Ali of South City Arts on the Faith Mural project in Sparkhill in preparation for the Olympic torch relay on July 1st. The young people were invited to take part in the project by The Feast, an interfaith youthwork charity. Both boys enjoyed the mural project and hope to stay involved with the Feast and develop their friendship through more shared activity.
"Our friendship means you can see how different cultures work and see the world from a different perspective."
Location: Sparkhill Park Photographer: Dharmendra Patel, Outroslide Photography