MPs have praised the achievements of the 56 students graduating from 3FF’s (Three Faiths Forum) Undergraduate ParliaMentors programme at the House of Commons. The UN award-winning initiative, which improves relations between people of different faiths and beliefs while developing a new generation of leaders, is supported by MPs, Peers and MEPs from across the political spectrum who act as mentors to the students.
Dominic Grieve MP, a former mentor speaking at Monday’s graduation ceremony, said: “What makes the ParliaMentors programme special is the way that it combines politics with practical action. Politics will serve no purpose unless it is grounded on experiences gained from real life.”
Jonathan Reynolds MP, also a ParliaMentor, said: “Schemes like this bring communities together and have a valuable part to play in building stronger and more open societies.”
13 MPs, two Peers and two MEPs took part in ParliaMentors this year, giving students an insider’s look at politics through debates, committee meetings and networking with policymakers at events in London and Brussels. This year saw the launch of the EU branch of ParliaMentors, which 3FF runs in partnership with the British Council.
The programme brings together students of different faiths and non-religious beliefs to work in groups to create social action projects. The process gives them a greater understanding of each other’s perspectives, and the skills and experience to take on leadership roles, working towards a more integrated, diverse and dynamic society.
This year these projects included support for young carers in Manchester and addressed issues such as human trafficking at the Olympics, the detention of asylum seekers, street children in the UK, and political apathy among Britain’s youth. Students also formed new campus organisations, hosted expert panels and launched a new comment magazine to address their chosen issues.
Khafi, a Christian student at Royal Holloway, University of London, described her group’s inspiration for their project, which portrayed the positive aspects of the act of protest: “After the many riots and violent protests that took place in 2011, the aim of our project was to celebrate social action by encouraging young people to get their voices heard in a creative and constructive manner, redefining the mostly negative conceptions of the word ‘protest.’”
Lucy, an Atheist student at Queen Mary, University of London, said: “The programme encourages curiosity, giving me the skills to ask difficult questions as well as answer them in a way which contributes to the meaningful exchange of ideas. I am thrilled to have met people who continue to completely defy my previous perception of what it means to be ‘religious’.”
3FF (Three Faiths Forum) works to create understanding and lasting relationships between people of all faiths and beliefs. 3FF has been working for 15 years to improve relations between different communities at many different levels of society: with teachers and students, artists and professionals, political leaders in parliament and upcoming leaders still at university.
For more information on Three Faiths Forum see: www.threefaithsforum.org.uk/