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*DISCLAIMER: I apologise in advance for any grammatical errors in this blog. The piece was written on a busy tube. 


I am deeply troubled by the recent announcement of the in-principle decision to move towards the closure of the Inter Faith Network for the United Kingdom, pending access to previously pledged government funding or other emergency financial support.

In this brief blog post, I aim not to reiterate the arguments made by various organisations across the sector (although I wholeheartedly support their views) regarding the government's questionable rationale for withdrawing funding.

Instead, I'd like to share a personal reflection on the profound impact the IFN has had on my own relationship with interfaith in the UK. I attended my first IFN meeting in March 2020, narrowly missing the first lockdown. I cannot say that I felt instantly inspired or filled with passion during my conversations with the organisations across the table. In fact, it became clear what was missing from the interfaith sector: effective youth engagement. This realisation set me on a path to establishing the National Multifaith Youth Centre (NMYC).

At first glance, although this may not seem like a strong defense of IFN's impact, I believe it accurately highlights the organisation's deep significance. IFN's constant facilitation of meetings and gatherings with organisations across the interfaith space provides invaluable insights into the sector's needs and challenges. IFN is unique in its effectiveness and consistent ability to achieve this aim - in, speaking candidly - actually getting a large number of diverse organisations to turn up and engage in useful dialogue, demonstrating examples of best practice while exposing the necessary steps to sector-wide progression. Without IFN's platform, progress in establishing harmony across all faiths and beliefs will undoubtedly be hindered.

During that same IFN meeting, I met Tara Corry, who is now the Chair of NMYC. Little did I know then that our casual conversations and speculative networking that day would lead to the establishment of an organisation that will hopefully exist for decades to come. NMYC is dedicated to engaging young people across the UK in interfaith dialogue, enhancing faith literacy, and developing multifaith relationships among students. In just a year and a half, NMYC has actively collaborated with over 15 universities and engaged over a thousand students across a range of activities, events, and programmes. But none of this would have been possible without IFN.

While IFN undoubtedly has its shortcomings, it serves as both an essential roadmap for interfaith in the UK, exposing challenges while also functioning as the great connector, leading to partnerships that forge much-needed sustainable solutions. Without IFN, NMYC — and countless other initiatives, such as the Faiths Against Domestic Abuse Campaign, which I also co-founded with Tara — would simply not exist.

I urge the government to honour its previously pledged funding commitments. IFN is needed now more than ever to serve these necessary functions.

Jeeves Rohilla, CEO & Founder

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