Youth News 2018
Interfaith Scotland’s national youth conference was held at the University of St Andrews on 21st April 2018. The conference was planned by a team of young people from different faiths from the University of St Andrews student-led Coexistence Initiative. The young people chose the theme ‘Radicalisation and Reconciliation’ and met regularly to plan the event with the support of Interfaith Scotland staff. Young people from a wide variety of faiths, beliefs and non-religious beliefs came together from across Scotland to attend the conference. There were presentations from expert speakers and an opportunity to engage in dialogue on the theme. Speakers included Rev Dr Leah Robinson, lecturer in Practical and Pastoral Theology at the University of Edinburgh, Mike Jervis from Active Change Foundation, Ameed Versace, a Shia Muslim and Strategic Engagements Director of the Scottish Ahlul Bayt Society, Andrew Marin, PhD student in divinity at the University of St Andrews and Rev Stewart Weaver, Church of Scotland minister and trustee of ‘Place for Hope’. All agreed that it was a very interesting and enlightening day with plenty of food for thought and that the students did an excellent job of running the conference with the assistance of Interfaith Scotland staff.
Interfaith Scotland continues with its ‘Face to Faith’ programme in schools which gives young people from across Scotland the opportunity to meet members of Scotland’s diverse faith communities. The programme aims to break down barriers and stereotypes of people from different faiths and promote greater respect and understanding in local communities.
February 2019 was a busy month. The development officer brought volunteers from the Muslim, Christian, Buddhist and Baha’i faiths to St Modan’s High School in Stirling for their annual ‘interfaith day’ with S6 pupils. She also brought volunteers for an interfaith day in Oban High School with S6 pupils and to Graeme High School in Falkirk for a careers evening. Volunteers also paid a special visit to Cardinal Winning Secondary School, a Roman Catholic co-educational secondary school in Glasgow. The school caters for secondary aged children with Additional Learning Needs and volunteers led interactive sessions with every year group in the school, which was very well received by staff and pupils alike.
National Interfaith Youth Network
Interfaith Scotland received special funding as part of the Scottish Government’s Year of Young People in 2018. With this funding, Interfaith Scotland employed a national youth co-ordinator, Michael Hail, to establish a national youth network of young people of faith aged 16 – 26 throughout Scotland. Michael organised a youth residential in September 2018 to bring 16 young people of different faiths together to learn about interfaith dialogue and leadership skills which they could take back to their faith communities. The residential was held at Newbold House in Moray, a beautiful building with lovely gardens.
Participants shared their thoughts about what would make interfaith dialogue attractive for young people, the kind of activities they would like to be engaged in, and what structure the youth network should take. They were also asked to think about social issues that concerned them and ways in which they could encourage their faith communities to get involved. The group identified mental health issues as a major concern, not just for young people but for society in general, with one in four people in Scotland experiencing poor mental health. We are delighted that many of the young people who attended the residential have gone on to assist with or run national and local interfaith events.