ONS Faith and Belief Network
The co-chairs of the All Belief network at Office for National Statistics (ONS), Jaspreet Gakhal and Paul Thomas, are dedicated to tackling misconceptions and raising awareness of religious, and non-religious, faiths and beliefs. Both Jaspreet and Paul volunteer to lead the All Belief network in addition to their normal job roles. This nomination focuses on their accomplishments for 2019 Interfaith week.
Jaspreet and Paul chose ‘Building Bridges’ as the theme for Interfaith week. They settled on three key aims:
•Raise awareness of how other diversity characteristics interact with faith and beliefs
•Encourage personal storytelling from colleagues
•Improve collaboration with other ONS diversity networks
At the heart of these aims was a passionate desire to enhance understanding of different faiths and beliefs across the organisation, alongside building stronger relationships between colleagues to improve inclusion.
The aims were discussed and agreed with the network sponsor, and Faith and Belief champion for ONS, Peter Benton. Peter was fully supportive of their aims, so much so that he highlighted the ‘Building Bridges’ theme to the Civil Service’s Faith and Belief Champion, who eagerly adopted this as the theme across the entire Civil Service.
Jaspreet and Paul spoke with their fellow diversity networks chairs to highlight their aims for Interfaith week. Their passionate call to increase inclusivity resonated with their network colleagues and all were keen to work together to make the week a success. This collaboration produced a fantastic range of events celebrating faith and belief, with intersectionality at the core. They included a panel discussion on Faith with senior leaders; Christianity and Sexual Orientation; Disability and Faith; and Unveiling Islam. This calendar of events was an outstanding achievement where personal stories were shared, understanding raised and connections made thanks to Jaspreet and Paul’s passionate commitment.