Young Brits join Tony Blair's fight against malaria

Anthony Silkoff

Anthony Silkoff

Two British Jews are among 30 young people who have been selected from more than 700 hopefuls to become fellows of Tony Blair's Faith Foundation.

From July Catherine Mansoor, from Middlesex, and Anthony Silkoff, from Essex, will be joined on the programme by three Jewish fellows from North America, as well as representatives from Christianity, Islam and other world religions.

The prestigious year-long leadership scheme, launched in 2009, challenges the fellows to promote interfaith understanding by working together on a global anti-poverty project. Fellows are partnered with another person of a different faith to work to mobilise people for the cause of malaria eradication and awareness.

The previous group ran a campaign which gained worldwide recognition, raising more than £100,000 for malaria prevention during the scheme.

Catherine Mansoor

Catherine Mansoor

Mr Silkoff, who has a postgraduate degree in human rights from Glasgow University, said he had applied to the programme because he wanted the opportunity to work in the field "as part of a hugely diverse group".

"I consider it a moral outrage that so many people are still denied their basic rights, by poverty, conflict or disease," he said. "My faith inspires and compels me to change this status quo. I can't wait to get started."

"I'm looking forward to the challenges and experiences," added Ms Mansoor, who studied law at UCL. She said she applied to the programme out of her passion for international development and her interest in learning more about other faiths.

Mr Blair praised the new fellows and said: "Too often we hear about the negative aspects of faith but the number of applications we received shows the enthusiasm which exists among young people to use their faith as a force for good.

"Faith can build understanding and provide unity and strength to counter those who see it as a source of division and discrimination."

    Last updated: 12:26pm, May 12 2011