Bercow hails Three Faiths scheme

John Bercow with ParliaMentors’ graduates Jennifer Sernat, Moonisha Lambat and Oliver Kasin

John Bercow with ParliaMentors’ graduates Jennifer Sernat, Moonisha Lambat and Oliver Kasin

Commons Speaker John Bercow addressed students at the finale of the Three Faiths Forum's leadership programme.

It served as the graduation of 45 students who took part in the UN-award winning Undergraduate ParliaMentors (UP) scheme, encouraging students from different religions to work together.

Mr Bercow and more than a dozen MPs and peers acted as mentors on the programme, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith and former Labour ministers Margaret Hodge and Hazel Blears among them.

"One of the things that attracts me about the Three Faiths Forum as an institution and the UP scheme is that it draws upon the energies and seeks to engage the curiosity and talents of young people," Mr Bercow said.

"I very strongly believe that the work of the Three Faiths Forum and of this programme should be robustly supported. I'm full of admiration for the talent of the people who set it up and for the commitment of those who are graduating from it."

The politicians offered an insider's view, inviting graduates to debates and committee meetings. The students worked in mixed-faith trios - each comprising a Jew, a Christian and a Muslim - to develop charity projects addressing human trafficking, educational poverty and HIV awareness.

It was the UP programme's fourth year and to date, more than 150 undergraduates have gone through the training. Many now work in politics and the media.

UCL Jewish student Talia Chain said "the programme has helped our trio far beyond our expectations. We chose to spread awareness of human trafficking and held a fundraising event and a month-long photography exhibition."

Muslim student Muna Abbas added: "This project has taught me how to use my beliefs as a tool for improving not only myself, but the world in which I live. It proves that religion and politics can come together to encourage social harmony and understanding while making a positive contribution to society."

    Last updated: 3:01pm, June 23 2011