Around 60 people from at least eight different faiths gathered at diocesan retreat house, Holland House during Interfaith Week to discuss issues around criminal justice.

people at the interfaith conferenceThe event was organised by Worcestershire Interfaith Forum and the diocesan Criminal Justice Affairs Group and follows on from a similar event last year which looked at the shared treasures of each of the faiths.

In the morning sessions the eight faith traditions each spoke for 10 minutes on their faith’s perspective on Criminal Justice. Speaking were:

  • Peter Hulme, Baha’i
  • Jnanamati, Pureland Buddhist
  • Mary Austin, Methodist
  • Neil Souter, Jew
  • Shazu Miah, Sunni Muslim
  • Shayk Muhammed Evans, Shia Muslim
  • Tricia Bradbury, Quaker
  • Gopinder Kaur Sagoo, Siekh

Ian Spencer is Warden of Holland House and a member of the Worcestershire Interfaith Forum. He said: “It was fascinating to gain a better understanding of each faith’s views in this area. What was clear that all of the faith traditions were much more interested in helping offenders turn their lives around once they’ve completed their punishment, than the punishment itself.”

police officers at the conferenceIn the afternoon, Superintendent Kevon Purcell and Chief Inspector Edd Williams from West Mercia Police spoke to the group about hate crime, both defining what it is and explaining how the process works when a hate crime is reported.

Talking about prison chaplaincyThis was followed by a session on Chaplaincy. The Revd Andrew Todd, Director of the Centre for Chaplaincy Studies at Cardiff University give a general overview and then Mohammed Ifzal, chaplain HMP Hewell and Charmian Manship, volunteer chaplain, HMP Hewell discussed how they work together and their personal experiences of prison chaplaincy.

Finally Bishop Graham launched a new searchable online database for those looking to volunteer in the criminal justice sector. ‘Volunteering for Justice’ gives details of a range different voluntary opportunities across Worcestershire and Dudley, including in both victim support and offender rehabilitation, as well as more general roles. More information can be found out about it in this news story or by viewing the database itself.

“As well as enjoying the sessions, all of the faith traditions were able to share together in our hot vegan buffet at lunchtime. The whole day was a great opportunity for people of different faiths to network and show support for one another,” said Ian.

The Worcestershire Interfaith Forum have two topics in mind for future conferences – faith and education (and faith schools) and looking at how the different faiths regard physical & mental health. 

See more photos from the conference.