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Christian and Muslim project scoops top Queen's award

BIG FEAST: Deputy lieutenant Beverly Lindsay (centre) cuts a celebration cake with fellow Deputy lieutenant Ursula Russell (right) and Feast volunteers

A CHARITY that has created a bond between young people of Christian and Muslim faiths in Birmingham has received the Queens Award for Voluntary Service – the equivalent of an MBE for volunteer groups.

The Feast project was set up six years ago to promote friendships between the next generation of Christians and Muslims, empowering them to become peacemakers and spearhead social change.

Amid the laughter and chatter of the awards evening, it was clear to see how any misunderstandings about two such different religions has been replaced by a genuine rapport between young people who are working together on a variety of projects.

They received their award at Christ Church Sparkbrook from two of the Queen’s representatives in the West Midlands: Deputy lieutenants Beverly Lindsay, OBE, OD, and Ursula Russell, MBE.

Lindsay thanked Tim Fawssett, CEO of The Feast for promoting such community cohesion and bringing together young people of all faiths and backgrounds.

She said: “The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is the highest honour given to local volunteer groups across the UK to recognise the outstanding work done in their own communities, so you should all be very proud of yourselves.

“Empowering young people to become peacemakers is so very important and necessary in today’s changing world. Long may you continue with your outstanding work.”

Russell added that she had been struck by the maturity of many of the young people she met earlier this year, thinking that she was talking to A-Level students, not 15 and 16-year-olds doing their GCSEs.

While Deputy Lord Mayor Shafique Shah said: “More than 37 per cent of Birmingham’s population is under-25, which makes us one of the youngest cities in Europe.

“It’s a place where we don’t just tolerate each other we build friendships and businesses together.”

Rev Simon Heathfield, Archdeacon of Aston, said Birmingham often had a bad press being portrayed as a ‘dodgy’ city with conflict and problems, but in reality this was not the case. He said projects like The Feast dispelled all these baseless rumours, making the city more plausible as it helped to build real relationships between real people.

Volunteers Haleema Sadia and Harriet Foster spoke movingly of their recent life-changing journey to Ghana, where they helped to set up a children’s summer club. They said they had both made strong friendships, which had made leaving Ghana the most challenging experience of their trip.

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