September 24th, 2016

Walking in each other’s shoes

IT’S a crisp Sunday morning and Redditch Standard editor Ross Crawford has just pulled up outside a glittering, golden Buddhist temple – but we’re not in the Far East, but in Osler Street, Ladywood at the start of the fourth Birmingham Interfaith charity walk.

On the agenda are five more places of worship, St Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Lozells, the new Lozells Central Mosque, the Shree Geeta Bhavan Hindu Temple in Handsworth, the world famous Sikh Nishkam Gurudwara on Soho Road, and the Christian revivalist Aberdeen Street Church of God of Prophecy.

The concept of the walk – for people of faith and no faith – is that there is more that unites us than divides us and that only by finding out more about each other can we resolve conflict.

It’s all the brainchild of Redditch resident Nitin Sodha who, with the assistance of borough council leader Councillor Bill Hartnett saw the idea spread to Redditch earlier this year, when nearly 300 people took part.

It has since taken off in Leicester and Mr Sodha is hopeful that it will take root in London too and further spread the message of understanding.

“It’s all about understanding diversity, about walking along and meeting different people and realising that there isn’t an awful lot that divides us,” said Mr Sodha.

“It’s about humanity – it’s the string that holds all the different parts of a necklace together, the cord that unites us.”

The walkers certainly received a tremendous reception with samosas and salad being provided at the mosque, Hindu temple and Sikh temple to keep the walkers fuelled up and in good spirits.

Coun Harnett, who once again took part, said: “It was very good for lots of reasons, the experience of seeing and experiencing six faiths in such a small area of Birmingham, the hospitality, lots of positivity and generosity.”

Ross Crawford added: “It was an amazing experience and I will take with me the warmth, friendship and openness of all the people we met – it all added up to a memorable day.”