Some humanists and secularists are strongly opposed to having anything to do with religious people, so they won’t get involved with inter-faith organisations. Suffolk Humanists don’t take that view; one is a member of Suffolk County Council’s Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education (SACRE). We are also active in the Ipswich Faith and Community Forum (IFCF) and some are tutors with the East of England Faith Agency (EEFA).
We’ve contributed to several local publications: a directory of local faiths (and Humanism), with descriptions of their activities; a collection of writings by women; a Community Handbook, updated several times; a similar publication for the North Essex Mental Health Trust. We have bene nvolved with promoting “Diversity”, a board game originally developed by the suffolk Interfaith Resourse (SIFRE) which teaches players about the beliefs of people who live in the county. It’s been popular in schools and for training with the police, local authorities and those in the caring professions, who can hire a team of tutors to play with them.
A survey commissioned by Suffolk County Council a few years ago demonstrated what I already knew: that racism is rife in the rural areas. Religious differences are often mainly cultural, and they’re poorly understood in rural Suffolk.
SIFRE Forum of Faiths
Suffolk Inter-Faith Resource’s Forum of Faiths meets occasionally to consider their teachings and views on a variety of topics. They’ve talked about various subjects, including justice and the environment. For copies of the booklets containing all the contributions to each forum, contact the Suffolk Inter-Faith Resource.
More on Interfaith events
You can read the text of Humanist contributions to Interfaith events in our region on our Public Speaking page.
EEFA & SIFRE – change of status
From April 2010, SIFRE reverted to being a purely voluntary organisation and all the educational work was handed over to EEFA, which provides tutors for schools and other organisations from a variety of faiths and Humanism.
The photograph shows 6th form girls from a Catholic school in London playing Diversity at a convent retreat in Suffolk, with help from a local Humanist and SIFRE.
Update: Summer 2015
Until the end of 2014, SIFRE was accommodated by University Campus Suffolk. However, now that UCS needs these rooms for other activities, SIFRE no longer has a base but is a “virtual” organisation, operating online, and hires space for activities such as couple of recent events at West Suffolk College in Bury St Edmunds. One of these was to launch the latest book, ‘Sharing Our Stories‘.
Due to lack of funding and a base, SIFRE has been wound up and replaced with smaller groups around the county, including Ipswich. We still have a connection with the East of England Faiths Agency (EEFA).
When SIFRE was wound up some of its activities were absorbd into EEFA (see above) but a new small charity which did not have the administrative overheads of SIFRE was formed to carry on some of the other functions. This is the Ipswich Faith and Community Forum.