By Amy Moorhead, Health and Safety Co-ordinator

I’m responsible for health and safety and making sure our colleagues and customers are kept as safe as possible, so for me, getting involved with Rise was a break from the norm and a chance I jumped at.

Alongside Hannah, I was responsible for the admin needed for the recent Iftar event that was held in 1 Angel Square. It was designed to gather Muslim and non-Muslim colleagues and their families together to break their fast, enjoy food and learn more about the significance of Ramadan.

To promote the event, we were active on Yammer within the Rise community. As we have Co-op wide representation on there, things started to snowball when people shared it with their networks.

As people registered to attend the Iftar, I was the one sending out all the information they needed about the evening, including of course relevant health and safety risk assessments.

I found it a privilege to be involved. I’ve never understood how much goes on behind the scenes to make everything happen – I’ve certainly got a new appreciation for event planning.

As a non-Muslim colleague, I was made to feel very comfortable and could ask questions to learn more about Ramadan and Eid. The community aspect plays such a big part and this was something I had never really thought about before. It must have been hard during lockdown so it felt even more special to be part of an in-person celebratory event.

When everyone went to pray, I was able to help portion food for the Iftar, including arranging the traditional fruit and dates ready for everyone to enjoy together.

Since attending, I’ve found that I’m questioning more. I recently watched a TV programme that had a Muslim surgeon and realised I was wondering how they’d cope with being in surgery whilst fasting for such long days.

I’m also more aware of my own behaviours, making sure I create an easier environment for everyone e.g. if I’m sitting with people in the office who I know are fasting, I’ll now make sure I take myself away from the desk to eat my lunch rather than sit in front of them.

Ramadan has been brought to the forefront of my mind and I’d love to be a part of it all again next year.

By Hannah Marchant–Collier, Community Advisor- Mission, Community & Shared Value team

When I joined Co-op, I was in awe of how many colleague led peer networks there are available. I knew I wanted to join one where I felt I could make an impact and Rise was a natural fit for enabling me to be the best ally I can be. 

Like Amy I was involved with the prep work needed in the run up for the Iftar. On the evening of the event, I was on hand to help with the initial set up including the decorating and badges for people. There were so many people dedicated to making it a success, we got through the workload far quicker than expected. This left me with time to sit and speak with other attendees which was really insightful.

Caterers provided food and I helped set it out ready for people to enjoy once they broke their fast. There was plenty to go round and it was some of the tastiest food I’ve had, particularly the rice – I could eat it all again now!

We had a great turn out including colleagues and their friends, family and children. With so many different people from different faiths, there was a buzz in the air and it was incredibly inclusive. Non-Muslims may have felt uncomfortable asking questions for fear of saying the wrong thing or accidentally causing offence, but it was all about sharing and learning with a warm, welcoming atmosphere.

A range of guest speakers each spoke for around ten minutes. Rise’s Exec Sponsor Saleem Chowdhery, introduced the evening and was followed by talks from a local Imam and a member of Didsbury Mosque who spoke about the importance of local community. A rep from local charity Mustard Tree also spoke about providing fairer access to food, which was expanded further by Community Mission Manager Ed Powell, linking to Co-op’s vision of co-operating for a fairer world.

Since getting involved, I now have a more in-depth knowledge and I’m more conscious of the celebration and the month of Ramadan. It was wonderful to meet people in person and to see all our hard work come to fruition. Overall, it was a big success that everyone enjoyed, hopefully we can repeat it next year and I’m definitely open to getting involved again.

Find out more

Looking back on the month, the Rise Network have created a short video featuring a number of leaders from across Co-op reflecting on their experiences as they took part in fasting for a day, you can see how they got on here. As the month of Ramadan draws to a close, attention will soon begin to turn to family and friends gathering for Eid-al-Fitr, also known as the Festival of Breaking the Fast. This year it’ll be celebrated on Monday 2 May and is an important holiday. There are some delicious recipes available for people to try in a recent edition of the Co-op Food magazine, along with more stories from colleagues about how they’ve celebrated Ramadan.