Have you heard the one about the Hindu Priest, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Chief Rabbi? It sounds like the start of a joke, but it’s actually related to an event which took place last week at the Passage homelessness charity in central London to draw attention to the Big Help Out, one of the official projects of the upcoming Coronation weekend of King Charles III and the Queen Consort.
The Big Help Out, which has been announced by Buckingham Palace as part of the Coronation festivities, is a huge public engagement campaign to promote, champion and showcase volunteering on the Bank Holiday Monday, May 8. Organised by the Together Coalition, partners include some of the biggest charities in the UK including NCVO, Royal Voluntary Service, Scouts, Girl Guiding, NSPCC and many others. The weekend is not just about the Coronation ceremony at Westminster Abbey in London on the Saturday, important as that is, but also gives us the opportunity for everyone to be active citizens and come together as a nation.
Hindu and other faith communities already play an outsized role in the country’s volunteering efforts and are set to be a pivotal part of the Big Help Out, which is trying to affect a step change in volunteering across the UK.
The event at the Passage last week brought together religious and community leaders from the Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Jewish and Buddhist communities. This was accompanied by statements of support from over 30 religious leaders from all over the UK.
When it comes to the Big Help Out’s objective to promote volunteering, it’s no wonder that many faith communities wish to be involved. The organisers believe there are three particular reasons for this:
Hindu and other faith traditions promote, in their scriptures, kindness and service to others, which is the concept of Sewa.
There is ample evidence to show that faith communities volunteer at higher rates compared to the rest of the population. Churches, mosques, synagogues, gurdwaras, temples and other places of worship act as hubs for volunteering. Furthermore, we are confident that when Coronation Champions are announced that there will be a good number from faith communities.
The King has a long-standing interest in multi-faith engagement and of course, the Coronation itself is a faith-based event.
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For all these reasons, faith organisations look set to play a significant role in the Big Help Out. The Hindu community is organising various events such as Sewa Day are doing Soup/Sewa kitchens in various cities. Volunteering to serve meals to homeless people and collection of surplus food from supermarkets, packing and delivering food parcels for foodbanks.
They are also creating donation points for food donations during Coronation celebrations and street parties. Anothet organisation, the BAPS Charities and NSPCC are working together on the "Listen Up Speak Up" online training that NSPCC are offering as part of the Big Help Out. They will also organise Health Screening for the community, offered by BAPS Volunteers.
The Big Help Out is working towards making it easy for volunteers to recognise opportunities and get involved. It aims to get more people to consider volunteering, especially those from backgrounds who have never volunteered before.
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“The Coronation of the King and Queen will be a historic occasion. We have not had such an event for 70 years. Faith communities can be part of leaving an enduring and exciting legacy through encouraging even more volunteering,” a statement on behalf of the initiative noted.
Meanwhile, the Trussell Trust in York will be holding a special event, there will be a beach clean in Wales and Bradford Cathedral is doing a litter pick. This gives a flavour of just a few of the events that faith communities are organising.
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The message from the Big Help Out is that it is not too late to organise something!
*Info: The Big Help Out