FENLANDER: Interfaith conference at Boathouse in Wisbech underlines vital roles of religious group

THE vital role that religious groups should play in promoting good community relations was underlined at an interfaith conference held at the Boathouse business centre in Wisbech.

More than 60 representatives from various faiths were urged to work closely together to foster better understanding between people of different backgrounds.

In his keynote address Dr Edward Kessler, director of the Woolf Institute in Cambridge, told them: “Dialogue requires each of us taking the other as seriously as we take ourselves. It should start with what we have in common but then move on to our differences and how to tackle them. That is one of the big challenges of the Big Society.”

He added: “Tolerance is needed even more in the difficult times we face.”

Opening the conference, Fenland District Council Leader Councillor Alan Melton said: “If the Big Society is going to work, it’s going to be very dependent on faith and other voluntary groups. We can’t do without your help and it’s my intention to ensure that we play our part in encouraging you.

“In my mind, the key message is ‘faith is truth and truth is faith’. If you take that through your family life and your working life, you won’t go very far wrong.”

Sandy Willatt, from Cambridgeshire County Council, who helped to set up the event, said: “Community cohesion is about how well different groups of people get on together and support each other. It is strongest where people take an active part in the life of their communities.”

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Participants agreed to work together on a number of new projects next year, including holding a major community event and supporting the new night shelter for migrants that is being set up in Wisbech.

The conference was organised by the Wisbech Interfaith Forum.

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