By Rachael Bickerstaff, Inclusion partner

 

Making sure our colleagues feel included and have a true sense of belonging is an action we have to think about and actively demonstrate every day. But, as we navigate through these very difficult and uncertain times, it’s even more important than it was before.

For our colleagues who have a religious faith, it’s a challenging time as there are lots of religious celebrations throughout April and May, including Passover, Easter, Vaisakhi, Ramadan and Eid. Usually these are happy times that are spent with family, friends and fellow worshippers but this year will be very different and will be hard for lots of our colleagues.

It’s for this reason that we must all look out for one another and be curious to understand how we can play our part. This really can be as simple as speaking to your colleagues and asking how they’re feeling, and if there’s anything you can do to help. Its also an opportunity for us to get to know each other in a different way, create better connections, and perhaps learn about a new culture or religion.

On a more positive note, I want to share some of the creative ways that colleagues are helping to support their religious communities, which may give you some extra inspiration of how you can support each other or our wider communities at this time of year.

Faith is in the people, not the building.
Cath, one of my colleagues who is Christian shared this sentiment – members of her church community have designed an Easter Egg hunt, but not in the usual way. They are drawing Easter eggs that are being displayed in their windows, for the children in the community to spot and ‘find’ on their daily walks.
They have also set up small groups for church members, so that they can stay connected through this time and look out for older or vulnerable members who may need support. Namey, one of my colleagues who is Sikh shares that;
As times are different, I decided to join up with SEWA UK, who are supporting elderly and vulnerable people in Sikh community, by donating in kind and money. I have volunteered my services to deliver meals.  Vaisakhi is a time when families and community come together to seek blessings and to pray for good health and prosperity. I will still be doing it all but in the virtual world of Zoom and Face time to wish each other good health and love.

Technology is playing such an important part in all our lives at the moment, and particularly in its ability to keep us all connected – churches, mosques, temples and gurdwara’s are embracing this shift by hosting sermons and services live through zoom or webinars.

It’s been humbling to see how everyone has responded to the crisis which has already brought many people closer together in many ways. We’d love to hear your stories too, so please share what you, your family or your team are doing to either celebrate over the coming weeks or how you are managing to observe your religious or cultural beliefs via our inclusion yammer group or on social using #Beingcoop.

If you’d like more ideas on how to support one another click here.

Our colleagues have shared that it’s really important that they can celebrate the things that are important to them, and to support this, my team have developed a The Inclusion Calendar 2020.

Have a look through and decide which dates and events are important to you. It’s a great way to embrace our differences and learn something new about each other.

Wishing you a Happy Easter, Chag Pesach kasher vesame’ach’ and Happy Vaisakhi!