The Lord Speaker, Baroness Hayman, has saluted a “tremendously innovative” scheme to promote contacts between young Jews, Muslims and Christians.
She hosted a House of Lords reception for the second group of graduates of the Three Faiths Forum’s “ParliaMentors” programme, in which teams of students from the three religions undertake projects under the tutelage of an MP.
“The worse the global situation, the more important it is that individuals don’t retreat into nihilism and believe they can’t do anything,” Baroness Hayman said.
Twenty-seven students embarked on projects ranging from promoting participation in politics among sixth-formers to examining multifaith awareness in schools and universities. The scheme will be expanded to 45 students for the upcoming third programme.
Naomi Neuss, 23, from Frankfurt, who has just finished a politics and business degree at Queen Mary College, London, was part of a group examining attitudes towards identity cards under the mentorship of Tory MP Lee Scott.
“It’s been great,” she said, “because I haven’t been much in touch with Muslim and Christian people.
“Especially at the beginning, I was a bit worried that they were going to ask me about Israel. But it didn’t happen. We asked each other questions about holidays and rituals but it wasn’t hostile at all.
“It showed me on a micro-scale that we have much more in common. We went out to eat, have coffee and became friends. Religion went into the background.”
The forum also runs an equivalent “DocuMentors” scheme for filmmakers and is soon to launch one in business and management.