from Amanda Perry at Thurrock faith Matters

TFM Con 4Thurrock Faith Matters hosted the borough’s second annual Inter Faith Week Leaders Conference on Monday 19 November at The Springhouse Club in Corringham.

The event proved popular hosting more than 45 delegates representing many faiths including the Hindu, Muslim and Christian communities as well as the local council and other local agencies. The theme for this year’s conference was Faith in the Future of Thurrock, a title that had been chosen partly for its ambiguity and the questions that it may provoke.

Rev’d Darren Barlow, interim chair for the forum, opened the event welcoming everyone to the venue and introducing the theme and aims of the day. He also introduced the steering group members to the delegates as well as formally introducing the groups new Support and Development Officer.

TFM Con 2Mayor of Thurrock Cllr. Yash Gupta then addressed the group not only in his role as Mayor but also as a member of the steering group and as a Hindu living in the borough. He spoke of his faith background and how his faith impacts on his life today. He spoke of the differences he has noticed on society recently and the growing materialistic views that society has and how faith can impact on these views and change them.

Cllr. Phil Anderson, leader of the opposition, then addressed delegates and explained how he had introduced the steering group to a cross parliamentary report named ‘Faith in the Future’ that had been written in 2008. He said that this report had allowed him to understand that faith can impact on politics in a positive way and that the two could work together to support each other. He said that he felt politics had been his calling and this report had helped to give him the confidence to pursue this calling. He was therefore very pleased that the steering group had also found it so interesting and had chosen to use it as the basis for this year’s conference.

Keynote speaker for the event was John Ashcroft of Relationships Foundation and a member of the panel of inquiry for the Faith in the Future Report. John introduced the report to the group and explained the background of why it was commissioned and who was involved. He explained the 5 principals of the report which are:

  • Does my action encourage people to develop positive relationships in their families and communities?
  • Is my action socially and globally responsible?
  • Does my action promote a climate of trust and hope?
  • Does my action promote self-esteem and respect for others?
  • Does my action encourage people to fulfil their God-given potential?

TFM Con 1He then went on to explain what findings had come from this and how this had impacted going forward today. He closed his speech by explaining how as a borough we can translate the report to a local level and left the group with the question ‘Do the people of Thurrock see the faith community working together across political divisions?’ if so ‘Would the borough agree with the reports 5 principals?’ and ‘what would change if they were put into practice?’. This led to an exciting question and answer session that spilled over into the coffee break.

After coffee Russell Godward introduced 6 workshops with themes ranging from planning a street party to micro-enterprises. The delegates could each attend one workshop lasting apx. 45 minutes. When the delegates reassembled at the end of the workshops Russell led a 5 minute feedback session from each group. Rev’d Barlow then closed the conference and thanked everyone for attending. Lunch and networking followed. The conference was deemed a success by everyone in attendance, and one delegate said “The event was a good balance of presentations, workshops, discussion and networking over refreshments.”

We look forward to next year.

(If you would like to read a copy of the report then this can be accessed via the Thurrock Faith Matters website –

TFM Con 3Amanda Perry
Support and Development Officer
Thurrock Faith Matters
t: 01375 389895
m: 07927 362030