MORE than 30 charities, faith groups, and organisations took part in London’s first Interfaith Fun Run on Bank Holiday Monday.
The event at the StoneX Stadium, in Barnet, north London, was designed to promote a message of unity and friendship between people from diverse backgrounds. Hundreds of runners tackled five- and ten-kilometre courses to raise money for charity. They were joined virtually by people running in events as far away as Hyderabad, in India.
Among the participants were refugees and asylum-seekers, including some from Afghanistan. The Refugees and Asylum Seekers Officer for the United Nations Association in London and South-East, Hagir Ahmed, said that she saw the run as an opportunity for them to participate and engage while socialising with “positive” people from all religions and cultural backgrounds.
The run was organised by the Faith and Belief Forum, which promotes interfaith harmony, and the Anglo-Jewish sports, health, and well-being charity Maccabi GB. The Forum’s director, Phil Champain, who joined the run, said that it had been “a great opportunity to bring people of different faiths and beliefs together, while showing our support for charities doing important work in London and beyond.
“After 18 difficult months with very limited social contact and many challenges, this positive event, bringing people together, is just what many of us need.”
The president of Maccabi GB, Michael Ziff, said: “It was incredible to see hundreds of runners and spectators come together. It is really important to see all faiths, beliefs, and religions working together for a better London and Great Britain to put aside their differences.”
A taste of different cultures was also on offer through an international food court, an Interfaith Zone, with facilitated dialogue activities, and a variety of entertainment that ranged from the Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa Pipe Band to the London International Gospel Choir.
David Dangoor, who chairs the Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London’s Council on Faith, said: “We hope the run will inspire many of those who form the beautiful social tapestry of our great capital city, be they young or old, whatever their ethnic group or faith, to join together in strengthening the bonds that can help make London a strong and welcoming, diverse, community.”