[Note: It was our pleasure to take part, for the first time, in the London Interfaith Fun Run. Solutions Not Sides (SNS) was able to raise almost £300 to go towards running this year's youth educational programmes - our workshops in schools, and our lesson plans, resources and training for teachers. Thank you to everyone who donated, and who we met at the fun run. We're really looking forward to the race again next year!]
Sharon Booth, SNS Founder & Executive Director:
"It was a holiday atmosphere in the glorious sunshine with good food, music, and (most importantly for my six-year-old daughter), bouncy castles. But the thing that warmed my heart the most about the day was the sight of so many people coming together from different backgrounds and faiths, just sharing our humanity through expressions of art, conversation and a united goal of physical fitness and wellbeing. We all piled across the finish line laughing, sweaty and exhilarated (well, some more sweaty than others, our family walked more of it than we ran, I must confess!)
There is too regularly a perception that hanging out with people from other communities like this might be somehow uncomfortable or hard work. At best it would be a duty to fulfil in order to show that you at least support the principle of 'social tolerance'. But it didn't feel that way at all. It was fun, interesting and somehow enriching for the soul.
I took my partner and daughter along because for us, having friends from a variety of social circles is normal and I want her to grow up seeing diversity as something to be celebrated, not perceiving it as an annoyance or even a threat. The only thing that saddened me as we mingled and chatted, was the reflection as I experienced the event that our communities too often live side-by-side in a state of polite tolerance, when we could all be getting together and having more fun like this! We would definitely do it again."
Laura, SNS Workshop Facilitator
"As someone who is passionate about both interfaith and running, this was a dream event for me! I was really excited to be taking part in a team of people to raise funds for SNS, a charity I have been a freelance facilitator for since 2020 and whose work I am hugely proud to be a part of. It was such a hot day (kudos to Miriam for running 10k in that heat!) but despite the soaring temperatures I was really pleased that I completed the 5k race, my first in a long time.
Overall, the event itself was just so good; I particularly enjoyed the Charity Fair, where I not only met people of different faiths and communities (some old friends, some new ones waiting to be made), but also had opportunities to hear about the amazing work they do and their passion for interfaith engagement. Another excellent aspect was the food, which was all thoughtfully signposted as e.g. kosher, halal, vegan and tasted delicious (something me and Tasha took advantage of sampling!) I felt really at home at The Inter Faith Fun Run and look forward to returning again next year!"
Miriam Tomusk, Facilitation Manager
"I went into the London Interfaith Fun Run not really sure what to expect (apart from a run!). When I arrived, what struck me was just how many different organisations were present and the sense of warmth and togetherness that pervaded the event, in the conversations happening between different charities’ stalls, as people listened to some wonderful live music, and at the starting line for the run. Attending as a member of SNS, it was a great opportunity to run alongside others with a shared ethos and belief that we can stand together.
I took part in the Fun Run as a way of supporting the work we are doing at SNS. The donations generated are going to go toward enabling us to bring regional speakers into schools and to create more resources for teachers and students, particularly for The Olive Branch Award programme. The run was an ideal way to both represent SNS and to take part in something bigger.
Seeing all the different groups coming together to promote interfaith in London really gave me a sense of hope for our communities. And while the September sun was certainly stronger than I expected, that sense of unity helped see us all through to the finish line!"