Non-Muslims Fast for a Day to Show ‘Support and Appreciation’

An award-winning community cohesion initiative celebrated its tenth anniversary this spring.

One Voice Blackburn has invited individuals and organisations to take part in the ‘I’m Not A Muslim but I will Fast for one day’ project, with members of the public, officials from major local organisations in the public and private sector, and One Voice members taking part. The campaign started in 2015.

The project won an Excellence Award in the marketing section of the national Inclusive Companies Awards in 2018. It has featured over 1500 participants since its launch.

Ramadan is the holy Islamic month where Muslims forgo food and water from sunrise to sunset. Intermittent fasting has also been shown to reduce inflammation, improve blood sugar control, and lower the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. This year, individuals and organisations began fasting on 11th March.  

The campaign has seen a constant rise over the years with participants showcasing solidarity with their Muslim colleagues and friends. Many organisations and members of the community including CEOs, community organisations and teachers have taken part in the campaign and continue to do so. 

One Voice Blackburn also conducts ‘I’m a Muslim and I Love the Festive Period’ during Christmas each year with a variety of cohesion activities.

Serie Davies from Blackburn’s TK Maxx branch fasted for the first time.

“I took part in support of my Muslim colleagues. I feel it was important that I got involved as I work alongside many people that fast every year and I have always been intrigued with how they do it so well each year. I wanted to share the experience.

“The day went well. I closed my fast with a cup of coffee and a glass of water. And I opened it with some lovely food from One Voice.”

Members of Clitheroe Smiley Explorers and some of their parents participated in the campaign and fasted for a day. 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.”

The National Festival of Making, Councillor Vicky McGurk, McM Accounting and Electricity North West are just some of the organisations taking part in the campaign this year. Councillor Vicky McGurk mentions, “I’m very proud to take part in this year’s campaign and show my support and appreciation to my Muslim friends and colleagues in the community. There is so much that unites us and as one community getting a different perspective is very powerful.” 

Many schools across the borough and beyond wanted to show their support for their Muslim staff members and students. Staff members from Pleckgate High School, Crosshill School and Spring Hill School in Accrington fasted for one day. 

Jenny Savage fasted on the first day of Ramadan alongside other staff members including Sarah Belshaw, James Carter and Martin Bajkowski. Jenny who is Head of RE, World Views and PSHE at Pleckgate High School said, 

“I take part in this campaign because I think it is important especially when I am working in a school with so many Muslin students. I expect them to turn up and work hard but I need to be mindful of how difficult this can be whilst fasting and the only way to truly understand this is to fast myself.”

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. She mentions how organisations and individuals from Darwen are also taking part. 

“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.

Other organisations who participated in the campaign this year have included Together Housing, Jam Coding, The National Festival of Making, Electricity North West, Shelter Lancashire, Lancashire Fire and Rescue, Blackburn and Darwen Youth Zone and Blackburn with Darwen Council. 

Sundas Bakhat, Marketing Lead at One Voice Blackburn, feels the campaign gets better each year.

“At One Voice Blackburn we work 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. Our High Tea event and ‘I’m a Muslim and I love the festive period’ are just some campaigns focused on brining communities together. 

“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.”

The campaign is sponsored by Served by Fareeha Naz.