One Voice Blackburn works closely with partner organisations to create a harmonious and cohesive borough which celebrates the diversity of our communities.

We deliver several impactful social media campaigns and community events each year, focused on bringing the community together. These take place around Ramadan and Christmas.

Some of these projects are award winning, and are seen as examples of real community cohesion.

I am Not a Muslim But I Will Fast for One Day

Nearly 2,000 people have participated in the ‘I am Not a Muslim But I Will Fast for One Day’ project during the Islamic month of Ramadan, since its launch in 2015. The project has won an Excellence award in the national Inclusive Companies Awards in 2018.

Ramadan is the holy Islamic month where Muslims forgo food and water between sunrise and sunset. Ramadan begins around 22nd March, and will last for 29 or 30 days, culminating in the Eid festival.

The aim of this project is more than just building community cohesion, although that is a large part of it. It’s about building and sustaining cohesive communities and understanding our local community.

Members of Clitheroe Smiley Explorers and some of their parents participated in the campaign and fasted for a day for the first time 2024. More than 18 leads, members and parents wanted to gain a better understanding of the Islamic religion and the journey people go through in the month of Ramadhan. They told us, “We took part in the campaign to help us understand the beliefs and values of another faith, and to share the experience with our friends and colleagues.”

Christine Seddon has fasted as part of the campaign since its inception. This year she fasted alongside colleagues at Darwen Asylum and Refugee Enterprise (DARE) Drop In. 

“DARE volunteers are fasting to support our refugees who have suffered discrimination in their own countries. These groups have been denied safety, food, water, education, childhood, family life or dignity. Fasting for a day reminds us of our safety, freedom friendships and food on our table,” said Christine.

We Love Christmas Too

One Voice also delivers a campaign on how Muslims enjoy the festive season. The project ‘I’m a Muslim and I love the festive period’ was originally launched in 2015.

In 2022 the charity, which holds the Queens Award for Volunteer Services, designed its own bauble to be placed on the Christmas trees in and around the Blackburn town centre. And in 2023 their members have purchased baubles to give to neighbours who celebrate Christmas.

Young members of One Voice Blackburn are photographed with the bauble placing it on their neighbour’s tree and proclaim ‘I’m a Muslim and I Love the Festive Period’. Some are seen wearing Christmas jumpers and dresses.

Amaya Sumra, 6, from Blackburn said, “I loved putting the bauble on the Christmas tree and it was fun having my picture taken.”

Aisha Seedat, who is a member of One Voice, came up with the novel idea. “Christmas trees and baubles are iconic images of Christmas and one so personal to those who choose to celebrate it. I wanted our community to purchase baubles for their neighbours to show the versatility of South Asian heritage Muslims living in Blackburn. I wanted to create a symbol of diversity and inclusion. To show that the south Asian and British cultures are intertwined.”

One Voice Blackburn hold an annual afternoon tea where members of the local community attend the community cohesion event. Organisations and individuals across the borough join in with an afternoon of networking, socialising, and food.

Guests have included the Mayor and Mayoress of Blackburn with Darwen, Kate Hollern MP, Principal of Blackburn College Dr. Fazal Dad, members from Blackburn Foodbank and Phil and Karen Boulding from Secret Santa. 

Councillor Phil Riley, Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council has attended the event each year. He has said “I have been talking a lot about staff at the Council being a force for good and the team at One Voice Blackburn are definitely also in that category. The young people leading a lot of the activity are the best sort of ambassadors we could have. This event is just a really simple and effective way for people from different backgrounds to get together, chat and focus on common ground.”

The 1V Awards Dinner is seen as the largest and most diverse community gathering Blackburn with Darwen. With over 400 people attending each year it showcases the very best that the town has to offer, with young people front and centre of the event. 

The Big Iftar is a community cohesion initiative and a collaboration between One Voice Blackburn and Blackburn & Darwen Youth Zone. The event takes place each year during Ramadan and sees Muslims and Non-Muslims come together to break the fast collectively whilst learning about what Ramadan signifies for people around the world. 

The Big Iftar is hosted by young members from One Voice Blackburn’s youth groups. A host of activities are provided by Blackburn Youth Zone and young members from One Voice Blackburn put on performances to explain what the month of Ramadan entails. Members from Blackburn & Darwen Youth Zone talk about their experience of taking part in the campaign ‘ImnotaMuslimbutIwillFastforoneday’.