Olympic athletes take part in A Year of Service

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Throughout 2012, faith communities - as part of the government-backed, A Year of Service - have been leading a series of volunteering days.

These events encourage communities to come together to help improve their local neighbourhoods and highlight the voluntary service that people of faith carry out locally.

Last weekend marked the Muslim contribution to A Year of Service, which through A Taste of Faith and A Time to Give encouraged mosques and community centres to open their doors to their local communities and also to visiting international athletes and home grown sport stars.

On Saturday (4 August 2012), Great Britain hockey player Darren Chessman attended an interfaith meal at the Central Mosque of Brent where the local community had helped to prepare food hampers to be donated to local charity Homeless Concern.

On Sunday (5 August 2012), 30 members of the Afghan National Olympic team including judo competitor Ajmal Faizzadatook and 100m sprinter Tahmina Kohistani took time out from the London Games to enjoy a celebratory interfaith meal at Palmers Green Mosque. The mosque had invited people of all faiths to meet the Afghan team and come together for an Iftar, the meal when Muslims break their fast during the Islamic month of Ramadan.

Afghan Olympic team
Afghan National Olympic team attending an Iftar meal at Palmers Green Mosque

The Olympic Games are providing the opportunity to unite people from different backgrounds, cultures, and nations through a shared interest in sport and Mohammad Tariq Fediq, Centre Manager at Palmers Green Mosque, said that the presence of the Afghan Olympic team had been “inspirational”.

It was a great community gathering. It was a good opportunity for us to show the rest of the world how Muslims break the fast because the month is a month of sharing. It also showed the British Muslim hospitality.

Throughout the month of Ramadan, communities across the country have been coming together for shared meals from Birmingham to Southampton with more events still to come.

Speaking of the Muslim Contribution to A Year of Service, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said:

Muslim communities across the UK traditionally help others by supporting charities and volunteering throughout the year. These good works are highlighted by the Government-backed A Year of Service programme, which is seeing Muslim communities - in common with religious groups across the nation all year - opening their doors to those of other faiths and of none during Ramadan to take part in volunteering initiatives. Whether it has been creating food hampers for the less well off, or an Iftar community meal reaching out to those in need, each unique event has brought people together in an admirable way.