Friendship and togetherness was the theme for an event in Ilford Town Centre from 23d April - 28th April 2018. 'Stronger Together' were words written
on a banner during a week of community cohesion - one the likes of which Redbridge has never seen before.
The event was put on by the British Pakistani Christian Association and groups such as Ilford High Road Baptist Church, Albayan Welfare Cetre and
Vishnu Hindu Parishad collaborated to share conversations with local people on faith and diversity.
The event was the brainchild of Wilson Chowdhry who last year held a peace vigil after a series of terrorist attacks in the UK, threatened to create
polarity and division amonst the well integrated communities residing in Redbridge.
Participating groups held stalls in the twin centre where they shared tea, coffee, conversations and literature on the key faiths represented i.e
Christianity, Hinduism and Islam.
"The whole idea was to show local people that different faiths can get along together and also a chance to dispel myths about faiths, other to
our own," said Wilson Chowdhry.
"Moreover, it was a time to knit a sense of togetherness and harmony in Redbridge using the simple process of a drink of tea or coffee to create
a relaxing environment. He added:
"All this week in the town centre you will find a number of commercial market stalls and quite distinctly a set of interfaith harmony stalls, that
are being championed by members of the local faith communities. It's a chance to shop and enjoy fellowship with other people in a remarkable town
centre - this does not happen anywhere else!."
"The faith stall operaters are out with the intent of sharing details about their faith with local residence in a spirit of reconciliation and
hope. In recent years the onset of terrorism in the name of faith has deepened - to some extent - polarity within communities and this weeks event
is a change to bridge the gap and bring our community together."
On Saturday Mr Chowdhry's group, the East Ilford Betterment Partnership, up the stakes a little and will be having a short concert on the community
pitch in the town centre. The event will include a bagpiper, some bollywood dancing and some Zumba and interactive dance sessions.
This event is the first of many regular events the next set which will operate from the 21st of may till the 28th. Theye will all contain a comercial
market that will fund a community event at the end of each period, ensuring there is something exciting to do in Ilford Town Centre every month
over the whole year.
Themes for the event will change and next months event will hopefully focus on local history. Charities, Community Groups and Faith Groups are
invited to join us at future events and will be entitled to a free pitch. Please call 020 8514 0861or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
We hope our events will ignite passion for our town centre amongst local people and make Ilford a hub for culture and community. Wilson Chowdhry,
"Last year's terror attacks revealed the brokenness of our communities. Terror groups stir up suspicions and stereotypes to divide society for
their own ends.
"To curb progress of such undesirable agendas we have to challenge the status quo and spread unity through our own efforts.
"For many this will only happen once we can break-up our existing behaviours and attitudes and take on more egalitarian principles.
"Events like the community fayre organised in Ilford town centre this week put diverse groups into close proximity with one another, permitting
new ideas to form and wider relationships that breach our usual pattern of insular social circles.
"Such a heady eclectic mix of people creates a richer cultural tapestry in our local area, one fashioned on inclusion rather than suspicion."