The Interfaith Contact Group

The Brighton & Hove Interfaith Contact Group

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Brighton & Hove Interfaith Buddying Scheme

The national Inter Faith Network (IFN) has been running an Inter Faith Buddying scheme for some years, and it has proved both popular and helpful. The dialogue can lead to longer term conversations and new forms of practical co-operation.

What is the purpose of an Inter Faith Buddying scheme?

The aim is to bring together two people from different faiths or non-religious backgrounds, so that they can share with, and learn from, each other. They arrange to meet together regularly over a limited time period. Some buddies have gone on to form long term friendships, and these friendships have helped to foster links between local faith communities.

How do I join the IFCG Buddying Scheme, or find out more?

Please email buddying@interfaithcontactgroup.com with your enquiry.

Some practical pointers for participants

Getting Started

  • Agree your expectations, for example about frequency, medium and duration of contact (you can always agree to change that later), respectful engagement, what you hope to gain from the exchange, etc.
  • Set any boundaries of what you are happy to discuss (for example, some might wish not to discuss events in other countries).
  • Be realistic about what kinds of questions and responses will work within the format.
  • Take a few minutes to go through together Building Good Relations with People of Different Faiths and Beliefs and to agree these or other ground rules that you wish to have.
  • Agree that your exchange will be private to you, except what you both agree to share at the end of the process.
  • Begin by sharing a little about yourselves and asking a question of each other.
  • Bear in mind that there are times when faith festivals may have some impact on people’s ability to reply to each other swiftly.

Sharing what you have learned

  • Agree together what you might like to share with others about your conversations: what you have learned from these and what points for others might have emerged from them.
  • Agree how you will share these thoughts – it may be that you are part of a local inter faith body, for example, and they would like to feature some of your reflections as part on an online discussion or event during, for example, Inter Faith Week.

Safeguarding and safety

  • Safeguarding is very important. Buddies should be over the age of 18 years and commit to engage in respectful listening and dialogue. They should also respect the privacy and security of other buddies and their families.
  • There are many different ways that you could choose to engage, for example, telephone, email, letter, or virtual chats using Zoom, Skype, Messenger, Hangouts, Teams, WhatsApp, Facetime or your other platform of choice.  Whichever platform you choose, it is important that people feel safe and keep themselves safe. All major platform providers give safety and security advice and it is worth having a look at that before you begin.
  • Do not share your phone number, WhatsApp, address, email, social media profiles etc unless you are both comfortable with doing so.
  • Do not share anyone else’s phone number (including WhatsApp, WeChat, etc), address, email, social media profiles or any other form of personally identifiable information.

Questions or concerns

If you do not feel comfortable with the Buddy you have been matched with, or problems occur during the course of your dialogue, please get in touch with the scheme co-ordinator at buddying@interfaithcontactgroup.com . If need be, the process can be brought to an end, and another Buddy found for the participants.

Other sources of information about Buddying

You can read more about the scheme on the IFN website at https://www.interfaith.org.uk/ .
The scheme co-ordinator will invite you to read the following online leaflets on the IFN website, as these set out the background, the basic rules and the safeguards covering the scheme.

  1. Let’s Talk: Practical Pointers for Inter Faith Dialogue, Inter Faith Network (2017) https://www.interfaith.org.uk/resources/lets-talk-practical-pointers-for-inter-faith-dialogue This is a substantial booklet, covering all aspects of inter Faith dialogue and not just Buddying. It is well worth reading, for background.
  1. Building Good Relations with People of Different Faiths and Beliefs (Code), IFN (updated 2022) https://www.interfaith.org.uk/uploads/IFN_Code_2022.pdf This short leaflet sets out the ground rules for dialogue.
  1. Inter Faith Buddies – notes by IFN on Inter Faith Buddying (under ‘Dialogue’ on the website)https://www.interfaith.org.uk/resources/inter-faith-buddies)