SOCIAL INTEGRATION PROJECT UNITES BLACKBURN
NON MUSLIMS FAST DURING COVID 19 IN COHESION PROJECT
One Voice invited non-Muslims to fast for a day in a community cohesion initiative.
‘I’m not a Muslim but I will fast for one day’ started in 2014, with members of the public, officials from major local organisations from the public and private sector taking part.
Ramadan is the holy Islamic month where Muslims forgo food and water between sunrise and sunset. A third of the population of Blackburn and Darwen is made up of the Muslim community. This year Ramadan in the UK consisted of a 17 and a half hour fast approximately.
Nearly a 1000 people have taken part in the project since it inception six years ago. This year’s programme has been reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Key messages promoted in the project include urging members of the community to ‘Stay at Home, Pray at home’.
Organisations that took part this year so far have included Lancashire Mind, Active Lancashire, BwD Healthy Living, Child Action North West, Secret Santa and BwD Carers Network. Many general members of the public have also taken part.
Sarah Johns of BwD Healthy Living spoke about why she is taking part in this initiative.
“My reason for choosing to fast for one day is because it really makes me appreciate what we take for granted. Delivering food parcels every day since the start of the pandemic has really brought home how people are struggling to access healthy nutritious food not only worldwide but also in our borough and am glad to be able to recognise what they are experiencing and support them at this difficult time. I also feel that fasting alongside my Muslim colleagues is important, particularly at a time when they would otherwise be spending time with family and friends, and celebrates the community spirit we have here in Blackburn with Darwen.”
Ronan McMahon of Active Lancashire explained why he is supporting the project.
“Now more than ever, it’s a time for understanding, empathy, sharing experiences and coming together as one.”
Tommy McIlravey, Chief Executive of Lancashire Mind, said, “I’m fasting to understand what it’s like for Muslim friends but to be more mindful of what it’s like not to have instant access to food and water.”
Phil Boulding from Secret Santa added, “I’m extremely proud to participate. Simply by joining in with various religions and cultures, we can see there are more things that unite us than separate us.”
Abrar Hussain, Chairman of One Voice spoke about the community cohesion project.
“Ramadan is the time of year when the Muslim community take time to reflect on their lives and their spirituality. This project started with a few people fasting as non-Muslims. This year, despite the restrictions imposed due to Covid-19, a huge number of people are taking part from the safety of their home. This is a testament to the resounding unity in Blackburn and Darwen.”