A City of the Future

16/07/2020

When you ask groups of 11-year-old majority Sikh & Catholic pupils to design their perfect city, the results are pretty special.  Cities have names like “Pride City” and mottos like “Be Inspired, Be Inspiring”;

Everyone is welcome and there’s no discrimination.

There are chocolate rivers and theme parks, and money grows on trees.

There’s no pollution because all the power is generated from solar panels and thermal energy.

‘Everyone is equal.’ What does this mean? “Everyone has the same amount of money”.

‘People from all faiths and beliefs come together to celebrate each other’s festivals and occasions, like baptisms and Vaisakhi.’

It’s beautiful in its idealism, but also movingly poignant.

‘There are places to go to make friends when you feel lonely.’

‘Kitchen robots do all the chopping. Because knives are banned.’

These comments, from pupils linking in Birmingham, this time last year, show how powerful linking can be; creating real opportunities to tackle issues that matter to these children and that help them to discover that they have more similarities than differences: A City For All – a vision of a future that will give you hope

‘Over my time here I’ve heard lots of great stories about Link Days; I’ve felt the energy coming from our training room when we’re working with the teachers on the programme, and seen what the team call the link day glow” on the faces of other staff returning to the office after visiting a link day. So, I was excited to finally see one for myself, but I don’t think I was expecting to be as moved as I was by the day.’ 

This was their third encounter, having hosted each other at their schools earlier in the academic year. The tone for the day was set as soon as we arrived. The first thing the teacher asked the students why they thought they’d been asked to come in their own clothes instead of their uniforms today.

“Because today we are one group, not two” came the answer.

Hannah Taylor, Head of Operations, Faith & Belief Forum.

The Birmingham Linking Programme is led by The Faith & Belief Forum. Since its inception in 2018, it has given students the opportunity and confidence to explore and celebrate their own identities and the identities of their peers in different schools across the city. The programme has also given students opportunities to break down barriers and misconceptions through the model of sustained encounters and engaging in opportunities for dialogue.  The Birmingham Linking Programme has gone from strength to strength and in 2019/20 now enables linking between a fabulous 72 classes from primary and secondary schools, engaging over 2,000 students.

Contact

Richard Pringle, Programmes Manager, West Midlands,  The Faith & Belief Forum – rich@faithbeliefforum.org

Follow us on Twitter @FBFSchools

Or take a look at our website to find out more  https://faithbeliefforum.org/programme/school-linking/