One Town, One Community Cohesion Day: Rotherham
Faith Matters co-ordinated the launch of Rotherham Council’s ‘One Town, One Community’ event with the aim of developing good interfaith relationships and preventing the spread of violent and extremist messages.
Survivors of Rwanda, Bosnia and the Holocaust hosted workshops about how communities can prevent the spread of violent and extremist messages.
The Minister for Cohesion in the Department for Communities and Local Government, Sadiq Khan MP, launched the event with a speech about the significance of St George’s Day to all communities.
Further Details on the ‘One Town, One Community’ Launch
The concept was designed around two major activities. These are listed below:
(i) That the afternoon session of the One Town, One Community event cater for councillors, civic, faith and community leaders as well as organisational heads. It was planned that the Minister and key local politicians would put forward strong messages as to why cohesion and the Prevent agenda needed to be strengthened and the importance of putting these into practice on a day to day basis. The messages therefore underscored the need for (1) tolerance, (2) mutual understanding, (3) the need for communication within shared spaces, (4) building resilience against extremism and radicalisation within Rotherham and (5) building a sense of being ‘One Town – One Community.’ Therefore, whilst Rotherham was made up of many communities and groups, the key was that Rotherham has a set of common values across all communities and these bound them into a larger community. These values, it was proposed was what made Rotherham unique in its own right.
The afternoon session also comprised of Lee Barnes who spoke out against the voices of division that are present in our society and survivors of genocides also spoke of their experiences in Rwanda, Germany and Bosnia;
(ii) The evening session was catered towards a younger audience. In addition to this, some members of the afternoon audience stayed on and listened to Silk Roads (the interfaith fusion band), Lee Barnes, faith stories from young people and women in leadership roles. Throughout this evening session the themes of promoting cohesion and combating the voices of extremism and radicalisation permeated through and this was re-enforced consistently, whether through the messages that Suzy Brain England and Naheed Arshad-Mather gave, or whether through the music of Silk Roads which fused Ladino (Judaeo Spanish) with Maghrebi (North African) musical tones.
Within the afternoon sessions, a speech was also given by Sabi Akram, the BAME representative on the Local strategic Partnership Board and the need for engagement. Engagement, she suggested, was a pre-requisite towards empowerment and a potential anti-dote to alienation and isolation. Her message, allied with those of other successful female role models helped to promote the idea that women are part and parcel of this work within the cohesion and Prevent agendas.