In March 2021, the Wycombe Wanderers Sports & Education Trust (WWSET) set up a new dedicated internal working group to lead the charity’s development in the areas of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion. We called this team the EqualiTeam.
On Thursday 6th May 2021, following EqualiTeam conversations, Head of WWSET Paul Foley, Head of Fundraising & Communications Mark Fawkes and Premier League Primary Stars Manager Billy Ready, took on the challenge of fasting for the day in support of our local Muslim community during Ramadan.
“Recently Wycombe Wanderers Sports & Education Trust have been paying more attention to equality, diversion and inclusion issues and trying to develop ourselves as an organisation to better engage with our local community”, Paul said. “And it’s through one of those conversations that Roz from a local charity called Seerah Today asked if I wanted to fast for a day and stand shoulder to shoulder with some of the Muslim people of High Wycombe and the rest of the world.”
“Having seen people fasting every year, I wanted to gain a much greater understanding of the reasons behind the fast and how difficult an undertaking it is”, said Mark, and Billy would go on to say that “I’m looking forward to being at one with those who are unable to have a meal whenever they want. It’s going to be a good experience – difficult and interesting in equal measure – to take part in”.
Seerah today is charity which aims to generate a more positive view of Islam in non-Muslims and a better understanding of Islam for Muslims. Amongst its other activities the charity provides religious education and an Islamic lending library, activities to spread awareness and understanding of Islam, and to promote community cohesion. Their website explains more.
As the day of fasting progressed, Paul, Mark and Billy added updates to the WWSET social media channels every few hours to talk about their experience. They were so delighted by the reception they received from everyone and were thrilled to be sent so many messages from people, both Muslim and non-Muslim, offering support and encouragement. They also took the time to engage in conversations with several people over the course of the day, in which prominent local Muslims shared knowledge about Ramadan and fasting.
The fast, which began at 3.23am and ended at 8:35pm, involved abstaining from all food and drink. Following its end the guys offered one final update to go over their reflections and observations:
“It was way more powerful than I was expecting it to be!” Paul said at the end of the day. “It was a great experience for many reasons. It gave me an increased realisation of how lucky myself and my family are, and I also have an increased knowledge and understanding of why people fast, which can only make me a more understanding and supportive manager in the future.”
“I found it really interesting to learn how much fasting is not so much a religious experience, as a time to reflect on community, on family, and on the very human feeling of resilience and commitment. Despite the obvious challenges you face personally, it was fascinating to see that the point of fasting is to focus on other people more than the sacrifice you are making”, said Mark.
We collectively came out of the day with a newfound respect for Ramadan and more understanding of the Muslim faith, and WWSET are already looking at ways we can participate on a much bigger scale next year.
And it is with joy that we say our relationship with Seerah Today would continue a few days later…
At WWSET, we were pleased to accept donations of unused toys earlier in the year for an event that would ultimately go on to be cancelled due to the Covid lockdown. However, Seerah Today and another local organisation – Red Kite Housing – had joined forces to deliver toys to underprivileged local children during Ramadan, and we were delighted to be able to offer many of the toys that had been in our office for a while! A very worthy cause that we were delighted to be able to contribute to, and the picture below shows members of Seerah Today and Red Kite Housing at the WWSET office bagging up the toys ready for distribution.