Queens Baton Relay receives spiritual blessing from Birmingham’s multifaith communities

A demonstration of Community Spirit in abundance was displayed as Birmingham 2022 stages the 16th official Queen’s Baton Relay – an epic journey across the Commonwealth’s 72 nations and territories, travelling 4,000 kilometres via land, air and sea over a period of 294 days before reaching Handsworth, Birmingham.

Hundreds of members of Handsworth’s and Birmingham’s diverse communities, faith leaders and dignitaries joined together on 28th July 2022 to welcome the Queens Baton Relay (QBR) as it travelled through Soho Road, stopping first at Handsworth Library and then proceeding to the Nishkam Organisations on Soho Road, one of the final landmarks before reaching Alexandra Stadium for the Opening Ceremony for the Commonwealth Games.

Many local community organisations came together to welcome the Baton Relay and created a wonderful family day with many activities for children and adults, these included Legacy West Midlands, New Begin Trust, Children’s Trust, Humanify and many more to shine a light on the amazing communities of Handsworth.

Members of the Birmingham Faith Leaders Group, local faith representatives, Councillors, dignitaries and the community recited a powerful prayer led by Bhai Sahib, Bhai Mohinder Singh OBE KSG, Chairman & Spiritual Leader of the     Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha, and Patron of the Nishkam Civic Association.

The prayer epitomised all the Commonwealth Games, QBR and the gathering was all about; peacebuilding, community spirit, unity, empowering and uplifting, camaraderie, gratitude, collaboration and mutual respect.   

On behalf of the communities of this beautiful, super-diverse city of Birmingham

We welcome and pray for all the athletes, organisers and visitors.

We pray for peace and wellbeing for all here in this city, Her Majesty the Queen and all those in the commonwealth countries and the entire globe.

We commit ourselves, in a spirit of friendship and co-operation,

To work together alongside all who share our values and ideals,

To help bring about a better world now and for generations to come.

As we celebrate the commonwealth games, let us give thanks to God Almighty for the wellbeing of all nationally and globally.

The collective multifaith prayer brought a sense of serenity and purpose to the festivities and offered a moment of reflection and blessings for the QBR before it made its way onward, ultimately to the Alexander Stadium.

Bhai Sahib, Mohinder Singh OBE KSG said, “This is an auspicious occasion, we are pleased Prof Geoff Thompson [Deputy Chair for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham] was able to join us. We were honoured that Prof Thompson, requested a prayer and a sacred blessing be done right here at the Gurudwara. Distinguished colleagues from the Birmingham Faith Leaders Group and other local faiths representing the super-diverse city joined us to pray for all involved in the Commonwealth games and beyond – a truly spiritually uplifting and blessed occasion”

“A positive, long term and inspiring legacy of the games is crucial. The dignity of difference must be celebrated, and it is a folly to ignore and neglect any person or part of Creation. We see the exclusion of the weak and disadvantaged continue, we need to stop this. We must accept that economic and social exclusion is a complete denial of human fraternity. This can only be fought by acknowledging and upholding our responsibilities”

The stage was dressed in a monumental Archway. As part of the Queen’s 70th Jubilee celebrations in 2022, The Nishkam Group along with local stakeholders proposed to design and install a landmark archway highlighting the epicentre of the Industrial Revolution (c1740) and the development of the railway networks nationally and internationally (c1830 by George Stephenson).

This archway will provide a gateway to Soho House, and to Handsworth. Through the archway, the values of curiosity, knowledge, innovation, imagination, creativity, and being hopeful and visionary will be encouraged and promoted.

This new landmark archway will stand over Soho Hill where the famous Soho Road and Handsworth begin and will be positioned adjacent to Soho House – Matthew Boulton’s former residence and the epicentre of the industrial revolution. It is hoped that this new project will bring to the for Birmingham’s industrial history and its legacy of the Civic Gospel as well as mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and the Commonwealth Games.

Prof Geoff Thompson on the day during an interview said, “The games are for everyone and Birmingham’s strength is its diversity, the communities and the location and sometimes I think it is not appreciated. Handsworth is known the world over – wherever I’ve travelled in the world, when in Soweto and I say Handsworth, they recognise and relate to Handsworth because of the diversity but also the life chances and struggles that exist every single day.

So, for me the games truly came alive by the baton coming here. Having organisations like Nishkam bringing in, from a subculture standpoint, the diversity of the community spirit, I’ve witnessed, but above all to bring the multifaith interfaith spirituality; now I believe gives the games the perfect, perfect starting point by which to see 11 days of sporting festival, leave a legacy opportunity for all.

The world attention is on Birmingham and we feel very proud to be part of it 1.2 / 1.3 billion citizens will be watching the Opening Ceremony and then the eyes of the world will be on Birmingham.  Birmingham is ‘the world in one city’ and ‘the Commonwealth is visiting the Commonwealth of Birmingham’.

My only other message will be to the streets. Young people ultimately have to have hope and opportunity whatever their identity, background, whatever they feel they are not getting by way of an opportunity to realise their potential, these games are, and I will be committed in ensuring, that they get a chance to realise all that the games has pledged to provide. We have a Youth Charter that came to Manchester in 2002, to Glasgow 2014, to London 2012 to Birmingham 2022 – be patient, it will be provided.”

Everyone was invited to the Nishkam Heritage Centre to view an amazing exhibition which was created to mark The Queens Jubilee, the Industrial Heritage of Handsworth and map the Journey of Nishkam organisations in Handsworth and globally. The Exhibition was framed as a “Values Revolution” emphasising how essential values and virtues were to human development leading to of cohesive and sustainable communities.

Visitors and dignitaries enjoyed the refreshments that were prepared and served by selfless volunteers and benefitted from the range of activities for children and adults along with the numerous community support organisations who shared important information about the support services they offer for communities.

Nishkam Civic Association Chairman appointed Patron

The board of trustees of Nishkam Civic Association (NCA) has appointed Bhai Sahib Dr Mohinder Singh Ahluwalia as Patron and member of the charity.  Otherwise known with affectionate regard as Bhai Sahib Ji, he is the founder of the NCA and served as its chairman for twenty years, directing the construction of the £7.5m iconic building adjacent to the Gurudwara on Soho Road, Handsworth in Birmingham. His visionary leadership and selfless service ensured the development of NCA as one of the leading civic engagement and community centres serving Birmingham and the West Midland region.

Bhai Sahib, Bhai Mohinder Singh KSG OBE Patron and member, NCA Board

Bhai Sahib Ji is highly regarded for his unstinting work over thirty years to promote peace and social regeneration through building innovative partnerships between multireligious and secular organisations to contribute to the common good. 

Some sixty years of his life have been dedicated to revitalising the understanding and practice of faith in changing contemporary contexts and to stimulating grassroots change within communities at large in the UK, Kenya, Zambia and India, as well as more globally.

The award-winning £7.5m Nishkam Civic Association (NCA) building was constructed with a £2.5m ERDF grant, £1.5m voluntary in-kind contribution and £3.5m from GNNSJ. NCA aims to engage positively with government within the civic context of rights and responsibilities to promote community cohesion; facilitate environmental enhancement; and economic regeneration. 

On his appointment, Bhai Sahib Ji said: “I was delighted to be asked to become a Patron and member of the NCA and accepted without hesitation. The NCA is at the forefront of advancing community and economic wellbeing; promoting interfaith, intercultural, intercommunity dialogue; and championing social justice and inclusion.  To deliver its mission, NCA has embedded within its policies the values of active volunteering and selfless service for the benefit of local and regional communities.”

The NCA board of trustees has appointed Prof Upkar Singh Pardesi OBE as its Chairman and Shaminder Singh Rai as Vice-Chair.  Prof Pardesi has served as the board’s Vice-Chair since 2005 and Mr Rai has chaired the trust’s Finance and General Purposes Committee. The board also recently announced Amrick Singh Ubhi’s appointment to the post of Director of Nishkam Civic Engagement and Partnerships and Ajit Singh to the post of NCA Director.

Prof Upkar Singh Pardesi and Shaminder Singh Rai

Jarnail Singh Bhinder, NCA Trustee, said, “We are honoured to have Bhai Sahib Ji as patron at a time of change and uncertainty facing the voluntary sector. We have been hard at work, shaping a bold strategy for NCA’s future civic and community engagement, inclusion and education programmes to enrich communities when it matters the most; we aim to help local communities and businesses to rebuild after the long, dark months of lockdown. With the announcement of Bhai Sahib Ji as our Patron alongside the recent new appointments, NCA is well placed to lead the resurgence of our work for all our local and regional communities.”


For further information, or to arrange interviews, please contact Amrick Singh Ubhi, Director of Nishkam Civic Engagement and Partnership at amrick.ubhi@ncauk.org or mobile: 07771 817484

Notes to Editors

The Nishkam Civic Association (NCA), fondly known as the Nishkam Centre, is a unique organisation charged with the task of developing a dynamic Sikh faith-inspired civic agenda. It is one of the key Centres for Excellence founded by Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha, a Sikh faith-based organisation dedicated to nishkam sewa (active, selfless volunteering) to serve the common good.  It is part of the Nishkam Group that is made up of the spiritual centre (the Gurudwara), the community cooperative – MSS (Marg Sat Santokh, meaning ‘path of truth and contentment’), the Nishkam School Trust and the Nishkam Healthcare Trust.

Bhai Sahib Dr Mohinder Singh Ahluwalia is recognised as a greatly respected and influential international leader within the Sikh Dharam, or faith, by the Shiromani Gurudwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), the apex organisation for some 26 million Sikhs worldwide.  It is from this Committee that he received the official dharmic title of ‘Bhai Sahib’, making him one of the first British Sikhs to receive such an honour in 2010. The term Bhai means ‘brother’ and Sahib means ‘leader’ or ‘one worthy of respect’ – making him a brotherly leader amongst the larger family of Sikhs. As a visionary leader, Bhai Sahib embraces the concepts of values-driven education and interfaith cooperation as tools to forge a lasting and sustainable peace.  Propelling this forward is the principle of seeing humanity as one family, and the light of the Creator in all, which is embedded in the heart of the Sikh worldview.  Bhai Sahib Ji was awarded an OBE in 2013 for his work in the fields of community cohesion, peace-building and interfaith.  He is also the first Sikh recipient of the Papal Knighthood of St. Gregory the Great (KSG).

Nishkam Centre Director honoured to receive vaccination from a distinguished West Midlands Fireman

As many leaders from across Birmingham and the nation step forward to take the vaccination and encourage communities to take the vaccination, the Nishkam Centre Director, Amrick Singh joined them having been invited to take the jab. Amrick Singh was invited as part of the latest cohort to have the vaccination and wanted to encourage all those getting the invite to attend their appointments. 


Amrick Singh receives vaccination 
from Aghia Pal Singh
Amrick Singh receives vaccination from Aghia Pal Singh

On receiving the vaccination, Amrick Singh said “It is an honour to see the great work the NHS and other volunteers at the Nishkam Vaccination Centre in Newtown were undertaking as part of the global drive to combat Covid-19.  

 “In all humility it is important to recognise and accept we are very lucky to have access to the vaccination and should take the opportunity when offered. I encourage all those who feel hesitant to take the vaccine, to get the facts; speak to experts and dispel your concerns. We are privileged to have the NHS providing the services we get. The pandemic has also shown the power of community and faith organisation to step up to help in the fight against Covid.”  

In recent months we have seen Places of Worship, community settings, Football Clubs all step up and offer their premises, staff and volunteers to combat Covid-19. Community vaccination centres play an important part in the fight against Covid-19. Having local vaccination centres helps to make the COVID-19 vaccine more accessible to people. Importantly, it means that residents do not have to risk travelling far, often on public transport, to receive a vaccination.  

Amrick Singh, as Centre Director is also an active representative on other prestigious organisations including the Chairman of the Council of Sikh Gurudwaras in Birmingham; a Board Member & Vice Chair at the Birmingham Voluntary Sector Council; Vice Chairman at the Birmingham Faith Leader’s Group; Treasurer and Board Member at the National Spirituality and Mental Health Forum; Trustee at Acorns Children’s Hospice and Chair of the West Midlands Combined Authority Faith Strategic Partnership Group.  

He went on to say, “It was a pleasure to turn up at the Newtown Vaccination Centre set up by the Nishkam Healthcare Trust in collaboration with the NHS and be greeted by the energetic volunteers. This is great partnership initiative between the NHS and the Nishkam Health Care team and further uplifting to see the collaboration further strengthened by volunteers from the West Midlands Fire Service. I was thrilled to hear from Aghia Pal Singh, how WM Fire Service staff have been trained to give the vaccination and support centres as required”.  

After administering the vaccination, Aghia Pal Singh MBE said, “I am proud to be volunteering on the frontline and WM Fire Service staff cannot thank Chief Fire Officer, Phil Loach enough for allowing us to be trained and vaccinate the communities we serve”.  

Aghia is no stranger to being in the limelight or on the frontline. In 2019 he received an MBE in recognition for his contribution to the community.  He is one of a group of WM Fire Service staff who volunteer their skills and expertise as members of UK International Search and Rescue (UKISAR) and on behalf of the UK Government they have been deployed on several occasions to disasters around the world. On this occasion Aghia was volunteering at the Nishkam Health Care Vaccination Centre in Newtown, Birmingham. He is also particularly proud of the links with the Matumaini Orphanage in Tanzania, which he and WMFS colleagues have visited several times to help improve facilities.   

Aghia Pal Singh MBE, WM Fire Service and Volunteer Vaccinator

It is great to see the WMFS strapline of ‘making our communities safer, stronger and healthier’ could not have been more pertinent than seeing firefighters volunteering to beat the pandemic. The vaccination centre is part of a wider initiative to empower the local community by providing vital information about the vaccinations, engaging with local communities, and administering vaccinations to help with the collective battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.  

To receive a vaccination, residents are encouraged to use the online NHS booking service, where they will be able to select their chosen centre. (www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination). 

For more information about the new Nishkam Vaccination Centre, please emailcovid19@nishkampharmacy.com or contact Dr Manvir Kaur Hayer (Chair of Nishkam Healthcare Trust) at 07812732857 or Ameek Bhogal (Superintendent at Nishkam Pharmacy) at 07961842069.  

Nishkam Campus welcomes visitors from the Sri Guru Ram Das Institute of Dental Sciences in Amritsar, India

Prof Ramandeep Narang, Principal Dr Kavipal Singh, Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh and Dean Dr Ramandeep Singh

L-R: Prof Ramandeep Narang, Principal Dr Kavipal Singh, Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh and Dean Dr Ramandeep Singh

The Nishkam campus welcomed visitors from the Sri Guru Ram Das Institute of Dental Sciences & Research last week. They were keen to understand what activities and programmes the campus was engaged in and how it was all managed. The guests were shown around the campus and able to engage in discussions with, Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh, Chairman of Nishkam Civic Association and Nishkam Centre Director, Amrick Singh.

Sri Guru Ram Das Institute of Dental Sciences & Research, Amritsar, established in 1992, is run by the Sikh Religious body, Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC). The Institute is one of the best Dental Institutes in Northern India imparting training for Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) and Masters Degree in Dentistry (MDS).

Visitors from this institute included Principal Dr Kavipal Singh, Dean Dr Ramandeep Bhullar and Professor Dr

Principal Dr Kavipal Singh, Professor Ramandeep Narang, Dean Dr Ramandeep Bhullar, Baldev Singh, and Amrick Singh

L-R: Principal Dr Kavipal Singh, Professor Ramandeep Narang, Dean Dr Ramandeep Bhullar, Baldev Singh, and Amrick Singh

Ramandeep Narang. They were first able to pay their respects in the Gurudwara Sahib and to Sri Guru Granth Sahib, before being taken on tour of the Gumad (dome) Darbar. Amrick Singh then took the visitors to see first-hand the Nishkam Five Centres of Excellence.

The visit commenced in the Gurudwara Sahib – the spiritual engine which drives, fuels and navigates GNNSJ’s wider endeavours locally, nationally and internationally in the pursuit of ‘Sarbat Da Bhalla – for the wellbeing of all humanity’. It has been involved in selfless intrafaith work in Kenya and India informally since 1950, and formally in the UK since 1978 as a registered Charity.

The delegation then walked past the Nishkam Community Co-operative, Marg Sat Santokh Manufacturers Ltd. This translates to the ‘path of Truth and Contentment’. It was set up in 1979 as a builder’s merchant and specialist timber manufacturer and joiner. It upholds the philosophy that ‘work is worship’ and that profit is not the only motive in sustainable economic development. This has recently diversified into e-commerce and forklift training.

They were then delighted to see the endeavours of the Nishkam Healthcare Trust. Whilst still a project in early stages, GNNSJ remains committed to community care, in the community with compassion and humility. Intergenerational participation has continued to be a crucial part in every sphere of GNNSJ’s activities it plays a vital role in the health Centre too.

Delegation in dialogue with Bhai Sahib Ji regarding education and the role of educational institutions

Delegation in dialogue with Bhai Sahib Ji regarding education and the role of educational institutions

The academic visitors were encouraged to see the emphasis on education and values via the Nishkam School Trust (NST). NST is a pioneering group of academy schools with a ‘Sikh ethos, multi-faith, virtues-led’ approach to education.  Inspired by the inter-religious legacy of the Sikh faith, NST’s  belief is that the approach to education can be more than simply a means to acquiring factual knowledge. It should engage pupils more fully to what it might mean to be of the highest of human virtue and engage in the question of the purpose of life and beyond. NST has grown since the first wave of free schools in 2011; it now has the privilege of educating students across 5 schools and 2 nurseries in the West Midlands and West London.

The visit to the Nishkam Civic Association, or Nishkam Centre, enabled the guests to see the range of activities on offer and the challenges that were being addressed on behalf of the community. Established in 2006, the Nishkam Centre aims to serve and uplift society by delivering innovative education; training; health screening; wellbeing; art and heritage programmes; promoting intra-faith and interfaith, intercultural and intercommunity dialogue; and championing social justice and inclusion.

The visitors then spent some time with Bhai Sahib, Bhai Mohinder Singh, Chairman of Nishkam Group of Organisations. The conversation focused on sewa, or service, and creating better human beings. Education, in particular values based education was the main theme. It was evident that many young people were leaving India to move West after studying, which is not beneficial for the progress of the Indian economy. Discussions were around methods of imparting values to young people so that they are better human being. Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh also highlighted the importance of The Peace Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation, and the vision / ethos around the Nishkam School Trust and its values-led education. He emphasised the importance of guiding institutions to help encourage and create good human beings around this values based education.

Having shared the importance of langar, a free vegetarian meal served to all, regardless of religion, caste, gender, economic status, or ethnicity, a process started by Guru Nanak Dev Ji which daily feeds millions of people around the word and upholds the Sikh principles of selfless service and egalitarianism. Bhai Sahib Ji spoke about the opportunity to serve langar at the Parliament of World’s Religions events, in particular Barcelona, Spain.  The visitors were then able to have Langar together before leaving for their next commitment.







  1. Five Centres of Excellence – https://www.nishkamschooltrust.org/page/?title=Faith+Body&pid=560
  2. Sri Guru Ram Das Institute of Dental Sciences & Research – http://www.sgrdidsr.in/
  3. The Peace Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation – https://nishkammediacentre.com/2019/08/25/peace-charter-for-forgiveness-and-reconciliation-adopted-by-10th-world-assembly-of-religions-for-peace-in-lindau-germany/
  4. Barcelona Langar https://youtu.be/_i1mknqEHpk

Distinguished guests from the Pakistan British Council visit Nishkam Campus

L to R - Amrik Bhabra, Zulfigar Khan, Amtul Qudus, Gohar Ali Khan, Nishat Riaz, Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh, Muhammad Ali, Jarnail Singh Bhinder, Ravinder Singh.

L to R – Amrik Bhabra, Zulfigar Khan, Amtul Qudus, Gohar Ali Khan, Nishat Riaz, Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh, Muhammad Ali, Jarnail Singh Bhinder, Ravinder Singh.

The Nishkam family had the pleasure of welcoming members of the British Council (Pakistan) to the Nishkam Campus last week. The purpose of the visit was to build bridges and get to know each other to explore future collaboration opportunities.

On a surprisingly sunny January afternoon in Birmingham, British Council Pakistan members were taken on a tour of the Gurudwara Sahib, served by the Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha, Birmingham (GNNSJ). The British Council members were greeted by Prof Upkar Pardesi (Vice-Chairman of the Nishkam Centre), Amrick Singh (Director of the Nishkam Centre), Ajit Singh (Contracts Manager, Nishkam Centre), and Amrik Singh Bhabra (Chair of the Nishkam High School Governing Body).

The visiting members included;

  • Ms Nishat Riaz – Director Education, British Council (Pakistan)
  • Muhammad Ali – Head Ext Relations
  • Amtul Qudus – Educational Development (Punjab)
  • Gohar Ali Khan – Exec District Officer
  • Zulfigar Khan – CEO Great Health (UK)

Ms Riaz who has fifteen years of experience of managing development programmes, has supervised large scale programmes on health, gender, skills, culture and education, was intrigued by all that was undertaken. Ms Riaz, one of the founding members of Karakoram International University – the first university in mountain ranges in Karakoram and Himalayas throughout the day emphasized the importance of education. She is also associated with the Aga Khan Development Network as a director since 1999 so was in-tune with and aligned to social action and serving the common good. As part of her current role Ms Riaz manages the British Council’s education work in

The delegation on part of the campus tour

The delegation on part of the campus tour

Pakistan and her portfolio includes management and implementation of multi-million-dollar education programme covering schools, skills, higher education and British Council Services for International Education Marketing.

After a quick tour of the campus, and having paid their respects to Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, the delegation met with Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh OBE KSG to speak about future opportunities. The ‘meeting of the hearts and minds’ was clearly about getting to know each other and discussions about future collaboration in Pakistan.  The members of the delegation were in the UK attending the World Education Conference in London.

Topics of discussion included values-based education, which is the core idea around the Nishkam Schools Trust.

“We draw upon our spiritual heritage and the principle of being nishkam (selfless) to guide the education of children. Education begins with loving families that create a supportive and inspiring learning environment around the child.

“The foundations for learning are laid by the mother and father who are the child’s first teachers and role models. We

Nishkam School Trust Vision

Nishkam School Trust Vision

believe the parents’ role is not diminished when the child starts to go to school, but their responsibility in playing an equal part in the education process increases as the child grows. We also believe that the wider community has much to contribute to the child’s education. It is the bringing together of parents, teachers and the community that is the corner stone of our ambition to create a community-led and faith-inspired school which enables all children to flourish, both academically and spiritually; an education which opens up unimagined possibilities for children.” Bhai Sahib, Bhai Mohinder Singh.”

Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh presented the Peace Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation to Nishat Riaz MBE, explaining the meaning and inspiration behind the idea and project.

The Peace Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation inspires and engages individuals, groups, communities and Governments, in public processes and in private settings, to practice forgiveness and reconciliation, seeking justice and sustainable peace.

The vision behind the Peace Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation is that forgiving is an activity necessary for healing and reconciliation to take place, when seeking justice and sustainable peace.

Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh also shared the significance of this year, Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s 550th birth anniversary, for Sikhs all around the world, and spoke to the delegates about the mega event held at Birmingham University.3 An estimated 25,000 people joined in the celebration of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the founder of the Sikh Dharam (Faith), at the University of Birmingham. Five continuous days of activities were arranged for all communities to reflect upon the inclusive, transformative human-values propagated by Guru Nanak Dev Ji – the founder of the Sikh Dharam (faith)

Nishat Riaz and her colleagues then shared their own experiences of visiting Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, in Pakistan. In November / December 2019 over 650 GNNSJ volunteer went of a special once in a lifetime pilgrimages to Pakistan to celebrate the 550th Anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev Ji. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8_1Dw37hrQ

The outcome of this historic meeting between the Nishkam Group and the British Council (Pakistan) was very positive and encouraging, with the delegation keen to form collaboration and partnerships around values-based education, cultural awareness and peacebuilding.


  1. Patron’s Message for the Nishkam Schools – https://www.nishkamschooltrust.org/page/?title=Patron%27s+Message&pid=480
  2. Peace Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation – https://www.charterforforgiveness.org/
  3. University of Birmingham Mega Event – https://nishkammediacentre.com/2019/08/11/the-university-of-birmingham-to-celebrates-a-mega-event-in-sikh-history/
  4. Nishkam School Trust Vision – https://www.nishkamschooltrust.org/page/?title=Vision&pid=406
  5. When Theresa May visited the Nishkam Primary School – https://nishkammediacentre.com/2017/05/16/prime-minister-theresa-may-praises-multi-faith-nishkam-primary-school-birmingham/

Innovative Book Launch on Values

Author Dr. Mandeep Rai & Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh

Author Dr. Mandeep Rai & Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh

The Nishkam Centre had the pleasure of hosting a launch for the revolutionary book, The Values Compass on the 18th of January, where the author, Dr Mandeep Rai, took the audience on her journey as to how the idea began and flourished into this intuitive manuscript. Bhai Sahib, Bhai Mohinder Singh OBE KSG, one of Mandeep’s main inspirations for writing this book, gave incredible insights into the essence and importance of values. The Nishkam Centre’s core mission is propagating and the practice of values in all aspects of life, and therefore the book launch was befitting. The evening was further uplifted by an inspirational address from a special guest His Royal Highness, Nene Tetteh Ayiku Abordonu IV from Ghana.

The ambiance in the room was immeasurable when Dr Mandeep Rai walked in with Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh and His Royal Highness, Nene Tetteh Ayiku Abordonu IV from Ghana. After a quick introduction from our Centre Director, Amrick Singh, Dr Mandeep Rai delved straight into her journey, outlining her educational and spiritual background,

“When I got the chance to study, I studied Politics, Philosophy & Economics because I was keen to know how does the world work, why are injustices happening?…As I was travelling back through Asian countries through the economic crisis, I saw the resilience and the respect in Japan, there was so much beauty in all of these places, but then I realised that we have these gems within us.”

Mandeep outlined her biggest supports, inspirations and how every moment could simply be a coincidence, or a pivotal point in one’s life.

“I spent a year in India as a BBC reporter…I was reporting on the deep injustices… I went to pick up some rice, and I saw another hand coming to pick up the rice and I looked up and I saw Bhai Sahib Ji. This was the first time I met Bhai Sahib Ji, even though we were both from Birmingham, this was 17 years ago…so we got talking and they really ignited a fire, and really brought context to all of these values I was seeing across the world.”

Mandeep went on to share that from this initial meeting Bhai Sahib Ji was always her “Values Compass”, every time she came to a junction in her life. She spoke about her work at Harvard Business School, and how the first Sikh became Dean, because of his work with values, proving that the world is actually hungry for values to be included in all aspects of life. Mandeep introduced His Royal Highness from Ghana in an incredibly loving way;

“Here we have leaders from Ghana…the value from Ghana is ‘Hope’ in the book…and the first thing I noticed as I greeted them were the beads they are wearing on their wrists, and these beads represent things like hope or fertility, and basically every change or transition you have in your life are represented by these beads. So these beads have such significance, just like the Sikh Kara we wear on our wrist.”

The aim of the book, Mandeep specified; “the things that you admire are your values, right now as we start this new decade, during Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s 550th birth anniversary, we can think about what is truly important, and be clear of the core values that will make us the person we want to be in 6 years or 1 year, and aim to embody these, and work for something much greater than ourselves.”

Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh then followed Mandeep’s lovely words with their own, outlining how they both met, and delved deeper into the essence of values.

“All 200 people sitting here are all divine sparks of the almighty…the soul is the most important ingredient…I believe when you hear the saying Let There Be Light, you can kindle this divine spark with values, you can ignite the soul with love and forgiveness, otherwise it slumbers”.

Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh specified that all values belong to God, because all goodness emanates from God. “We have five basic values, Humility, Compassion, Truthfulness, Contentment (to accept God’s will), and love, and likewise we have five vices, Lust, Revenge, Greed, Attachment, Ego. Whatever we are given credit for; it should actually go to the Almighty, because He is controlling the divine spark. When we get disconnected with the Almighty, we become disconnected with all of Creation. The challenge is to connect, and He is the source of all values and virtues. Values are the ornaments of humanity, without them we are lost.”

HRH, Nene Tetteh Ayiku Abordonu IV from Ghana

HRH, Nene Tetteh Ayiku Abordonu IV from Ghana

He then went through some of the journey with Mandeep, the times that she came to them for guidance. Faith in God means trust, trust means hope; if you don’t have trust then there is no hope and the situation is hopeless. There is one God for all the divine spark; we are all interconnected and interdependent. There is a big connection with this book, values are a common human heritage, and they belong to all of us, across every country…we need to sacrifice for each other, going beyond self and help one another.” Bhai Sahib also told the audience that for the first time, Faith Leaders have been invited to the World Economic Forum in Davos to see how there can be cohesion – a major step for the forum, and potentially shows that Faith and values are needed across every aspect of the world.

The audience were then invited to ask questions of the Author and Bhai Sahib Ji. We saw economics was again touched up on. The special guest, HRH Nene Tetteh Ayiku Abordonu IV of Ghana had a chance to speak about when there is no faith or values in economics, and subsequently Africa is affected and exploited by this.

“Faith should be integrated into economics, we have to give love to humanity, we need to renegotiate and know that if we have borrowed from this continent, we should give something back. Without love nothing is possible.” The evening came to a close,    with Author Dr Mandeep Rai signing copies of the book.


Copies of the book are available to purchase on Amazon http://tiny.cc/f17xiz

The Nishkam Centre has done workshops with SACRE (Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education) and the Nishkam School Trust around the 24 Dispositions in Birmingham. For more information click here https://www.faithmakesadifference.co.uk/dispositions.  Virtues education is central to all of school life, whether it is in the informal curriculum, how we speak and conduct ourselves or through acts of regular service. Nishkam Schools focus on 50 core virtues below as described more fully in the Nishkam passport. https://www.nishkamschooltrust.org/page/?title=Virtue+Learning&pid=12

For more articles like the above please visit www.nishkammediacentre.com

Journeying in Dialogue; 100th Anniversary of Chiara Lubich’s Birth

Chiara Lubich

Chiara Lubich

A celebration marking the 100th Anniversary of Chiara Lubich’s birth was held on Saturday the 18th January at the Elgar Hall, University of Birmingham (UOB). Chiara Lubich was the founder of Focolare, and the Movement has now moved beyond its origins in the Roman Catholic Church and now involved Christians of many churches, followers of all the great world religions and people of goodwill. Local, national and international contributors shared experiences of building unity, inspired by the spirituality of the Focolare Movement.

One hundred years ago, Chiara Lubich was born into a world that was to be ripped apart by war. She and her friends began to put their Christian faith into practice by loving each neighbour, whoever that was, and transforming the community around them.

Guest speakers at the event included Reverend Bernard Longley, Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham, Sheikh Dr Mohammad Ali Shomali, Director of the International Institute for Islamic Studies, Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh OBE KSG, Spiritual Leader of the Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha (GNNSJ) and Chairman of Nishkam Group of Organisations.Guest speakers at the event included Reverend Bernard Longley, Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham, Sheikh Dr Mohammad Ali Shomali, Director of the International Institute for Islamic Studies, Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh OBE KSG, Spiritual Leader of the Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha (GNNSJ) and Chairman of Nishkam Group of Organisations.

Today we find our world fracturing under the strain of political division, economic inequality and climate emergency. Many want to work for unity, justice and peace, but where to start? The spirit of Chiara Lubich’s vision has been taken up across the world, through various faith leaders, bringing change through social action, political dialogue and unity amongst communities of faith.

There have been great forward strides in recent years of including faith dialogue in social and economic discussions, for the first time in history Faith Leaders have been invited to attend and participate in the World Economic Forum in Davos. Topics discussed included ‘The Role of Faith for a Cohesive and Sustainable World’ and the ‘Religious Leaders’ Role in Safeguarding Communities’.

At the UOB event Archbishop Bernard Longley gave a very warm welcome to all at the event and recalled meeting Chiara Lubich with her ‘mix of gentleness and passion’; one could clearly feel the very presence of a charism at work. Dialogue requires willing hearts; it calls for a generous response.” The Archbishop recalled many accounts of engagement including reference to the great community work done by Bhai Sahib, Bhai Mohinder Singh and he also passionately spoke about late Mr Sewa Singh Mandla OBE contribution to community relations.

Archbishop Bernard Longley

Archbishop Bernard Longley

Dr Mohammad Ali Shomali stated that “Chiara Lubich belongs to the whole community and this is the time of collective sainthood.”

Chiara is still asking us what she was asking in London 2004; How can we look at each other through the Father’s eyes? How can we go beyond tolerance and transform a multi-faith, multicultural society into an interfaith, intercultural society where we learn from each other?

Bhai Sahib, Bhai Mohinder Singh lovingly said; “For me, Chiara Lubich was a saint, a blessed soul. I could feel the vibrations at her presence. She was welcoming and warm and you could talk to her freely.” Bhai Sahib Ji also underlined that, “dialogue is the first step to get close to people to resolve conflicts. Nishkam means selfless – we must serve with this in our hearts and mind. As people of faith we need to have humility, contentment, and an abundance of love.”

Bhai Sahib Ji recalled, Pope Francis spoke about peace; “Peace requires work, it is not merely absence of war but a tireless commitment. Until there is friendship, until everyone finds the solution for the problems of their land, their family.”

“We need to learn to open our hearts to one another”. The meaning of Chiara Lubich’s message is to engage with the heart and not just our minds.

Bhai Sahib Ji, accompanied by Kiran Kaur and Amrick Singh, Nishkam Centre Director were all warmly welcomed to

Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh

Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh

the event by Pat Whitney and Bill Ozzane on arrival.  Amrick Singh later said, “The event was very moving, although we could only stay for the morning session, it was a magical atmosphere. Everyone present seemed to be full of positive energy and vibes, this was further displayed by the speakers and performers on the stage.”

“It was truly inspiring to see that Chiara’s message is embedded and lived rather than empty rhetoric. The life examples people gave of how they practice compassion and love in their daily lives was refreshing. As Sikhs we are informed that there is no stranger or enemy; we are all one family of humanity, divine sparks created by God – these eternal messages were vibrating throughout the event.”

“The work Bhai Sahib Ji is doing on the Peace Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation, and also the Museum of Worlds’ Religions, will be a phenomenal achievement to support the vision and work of Focolare and Chiara’s legacy for generations to come.”



  1. The Nishkam Group or Organisations has been working with Focolare for many years. Students from Nishkam High School have performed multiple times with the Gen Verde, a band whose members are part of the Focolare Movement, using various instruments across different Faiths. The musical styles reflected 13 different nationalities, and celebrated hope and shared commitment to build a better society through religious principles. https://nishkammediacentre.com/2015/11/30/students-host-exciting-interfaith-concert/
  2. World Economic Forum 2020 – ‘The Role of Faith for a Cohesive and Sustainable World’https://www.weforum.org/events/world-economic-forum-annual-meeting-2020/sessions/the-role-of-faith-for-a-cohesive-and-sustainable-world
  3. World Economic Forum 2020 – The ‘Religious Leaders’ Role in Safeguarding Communities’https://www.weforum.org/events/world-economic-forum-annual-meeting-2020/sessions/religious-leaders-role-in-safeguarding-communities
  4. Museum of Worlds’ Religionsorg, https://nishkammediacentre.com/2014/11/05/museum-of-world-religions-agm-and-project-development-meeting-hosted-in-birmingham/
  5. Peace Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation https://www.charterforforgiveness.org/, https://nishkammediacentre.com/2019/08/25/peace-charter-for-forgiveness-and-reconciliation-adopted-by-10th-world-assembly-of-religions-for-peace-in-lindau-germany/

For more articles like the above please visit www.nishkammediacentre.com

Nishkam Centre reaffirms commitment to prestigious Investor in Volunteers Standard

At the last Nishkam Civic Association Board Meeting of 2019 the Chairman and Board were presented with the prestigious certificate. The Nishkam Centre had been put through its paces by an assessor from Investing in Volunteers (IiV) who tested the organisation against nine indicators to confirm continued adherence to the IiV Standard. The Centre provides innovative support via group work activities that is creative, responsive and sensitive to the needs of many diverse communities. The ethos of the Nishkam Centre is based upon a framework which provides a pathway to community integration, empowerment, involvement and cohesion. As Nishkam means ‘selfless service’ the underpinning and cutting-edge differentiator is voluntary service. Our commitment towards the IiV standard demonstrates our commitment to volunteering.

Bhai Sahib, Bhai Mohinder Singh, Chairman of Nishkam Group of Organisations with Prof Upkar Singh Pardesi, Vice Chairman of Nishkam Centre presented with IiV Certificate

Bhai Sahib, Bhai Mohinder Singh, Chairman of Nishkam Group of Organisations with Prof Upkar Singh Pardesi, Vice Chairman of Nishkam Centre presented with IiV Certificate

The Nishkam Centre provides many services to enable civic engagement and involvement. These services incorporate built-in progressions, enabling clients to improve coping strategies and work towards sustainable mental health recovery, increasing social networks and opportunities for training, volunteering, employment and community integration. The Investing in Volunteers website states, ‘Investing in Volunteers (IiV) is the UK quality standard for good practice in volunteer management. The benefits of doing so are claimed to be; ‘enhancing volunteers’ experience and increasing their motivation; strengthen the organisational reputation and encourage more people to volunteer; minimises risk, maintains knowledge, and plans for the future’.

Bhai Sahib, Bhai (Dr) Mohinder Singh OBE KSG, Chairman of the Nishkam Group of Organisations said, ‘The Nishkam volunteers are our organisations’ cutting-edge. It is only possible for our organisations to deliver what they do because of the dedication of selfless volunteers who are inspired by their faith values to help others and give something back to the community. We are committed to supporting and developing our volunteers and the award is recognition of the importance we place on them. Volunteers bring real added value, the experience and skills they bring to the campus is truly inspirational. Many people do not realise that the Nishkam Group is a small independent charity that relies heavily on its volunteers to provide a lifeline of support for all the projects we undertake. We are delighted that we have again been assessed as providing best practice in the experience and support we provide for our volunteers”.

The Nishkam Team’s volunteers are more and more reflective of the communities served, helping to build deeper

Creative Healing Workshop delivered by Mental Health Professionals

Creative Healing Workshop delivered by Mental Health Professionals

understanding and cohesion as it is located in one of the most diverse neighbourhoods in Birmingham and the UK.

Last year the Nishkam Centre was supported by 50 regular volunteers and many more occasional volunteers who offered support on an informal basis. The volunteers offer a very wide range of support to the centre ranging from strategy and governance, business development, teaching, centre support, administration, welfare services, wellbeing services, maintenance and many more. Due to the wide range of activities and roles the Centre is able to connect individuals wishing to volunteer and can offer more opportunities for their personal development.

The Nishkam volunteers have grown in confidence, had fun, transformed their own and other lives, boosted their career opportunities, benefited from a variety of training, gained a sense of community spirit and involvement, feeling of having made a difference to someone’s life, made friends and had an overall improvement in their health and wellbeing.

Ajit Singh, Nishkam Centre Contracts Manager said, “It is an absolute pleasure and privilege to work with and support our volunteers. Our volunteers are our best ambassadors, who selflessly volunteer to support others in the community whilst developing themselves along the way. For many, volunteering has been a life-changing experience supporting the individual’s general wellbeing in so many ways. We have coined the phrase ‘measureless measures of volunteering’. Whilst there are many tangible benefits of volunteering there are so many more intangible benefits which are very difficult to measure due to their very nature. The Nishkam Centre’s ongoing success and ability to flourish further is aligned with how we work with our selfless volunteers and recruit more. Further to our IiV assessment, we will be piloting our ‘Measureless Measures of Volunteering’ template to capture the actual, perceived and intangible benefits of volunteering as well as the volunteering journey.

It would be impossible to provide many of the services the Centre provides without the volunteers who contribute their time willingly. Based on a conservative calculation it is estimated that the volunteers give some 17,000 hours on an annual basis and one could quite easily put a figure of £230,000 against that.

Amrick Singh, Nishkam Centre Director, said, “It is amazing to have been assessed against the Standard for the third time and to be told by the assessor that we were better than last time. We applaud and recognise the enormous value our volunteers add on a daily basis. Volunteering provides an excellent mutual benefit to the volunteer and us as an organisation. We are able to do more great work and offer services that might otherwise not be possible. The volunteer is able to get priceless experience and exposure. For some it is a genuine desire to give back, to serve, to help and to develop new skills. For others it may be an escape from isolation, depression, loneliness or even a sense of guilt that they are not putting their skills to use to help others.

“The award sets a benchmark of high standards, good practice and quality in respect of volunteering, this is a great accolade for all concerned. The Nishkam Centre has yet again demonstrated its commitment towards, and appreciation of, its volunteers. I would encourage all organisations to look at the standard and see how they can support volunteers and encourage them to contribute and grow.”

Volunteer journey case study

One of Nishkam’s volunteers, we will call Mrs A, was a new arrival into the UK. Her husband was struggling to find work and came to the Centre for help with his welfare benefits application. He spoke very little English and on the day of the workshop for their welfare benefits application, he was unable to attend and sent his wife, Mrs A.

Mrs A showed great aptitude and was supported to complete her own application form. Mrs A was encouraged to volunteer and given training to gain more knowledge in welfare benefits. Mrs A is now a regular volunteer who supports the IAG team to run and deliver workshops, administration work and supports others to be self-sufficient.

Within less than a year Mrs A has grown in self-esteem, knowledge and able to support others. Mrs A is able to speak four languages, which is a vital asset in the diverse local demographic, which she uses to support others. She often confides how the dynamics and her status within her home have also improved due to her newfound self-esteem and confidence.


Notes to Editors:

For more information visit Investing in Volunteers – https://iiv.investinginvolunteers.org.uk

World’s largest interfaith gathering begins in Toronto

Parliament of the World’s Religions runs from Nov. 1 -7 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre 

TORONTO, ON (November 1, 2018) – The Parliament of the World’s Religions – the single largest interfaith gathering in the world – kicked off its seven-day run today in Toronto, drawing an enthusiastic audience interested in learning more about interreligious harmony.

Opening Ceremonies began with a spiritual ceremony from the Indigenous Nations on Turtle Island with greetings from the host First Nations, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and the Mississaugas of the Credit, and special addresses from local and international leaders. Following this ceremony, the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, The Honourable Ahmed D. Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Chief Ava Hill, Chief of the 56th Elected Council of the Six Nations of the Grand River and Chief Stacey Laforme, Chief of the Mississaguas of the New Credit First Nation joined Parliament leaders to officially welcome delegates to the 2018 Parliament of the World’s Religions.

Nearly 10,000 participants are expected to attend Parliament from Nov. 1-7 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Featuring dozens of high-profile guest speakers and more than 1000 spiritual programs, lectures and interactive cultural experiences, the event offers programming for all, from scholars and activists to families and children. Participants can be individuals whose profession or personal interests lead them to the Parliament or delegations from the guiding institutions, such as states, universities or religious organizations.

The Toronto Parliament will explore three themes: The Promise of Inclusion, the Power of Love: Pursuing Global Understanding, Reconciliation and Change.

Highlights of the 2018 Parliament of the World’s Religions include:

Film Festival

A collection of ground-breaking movies and documentaries will play throughout the week including Indian Horse, The Gate: Dawn of the Bahá’í Faith and Radical Grace. Attendees are encouraged to attend various screenings and take part in Q and A sessions after select screenings.

Sacred Music Night – Nov. 4, 6 – 8 p.m. – Exhibit Hall ABC, Level 300.

On Sunday, Nov. 4, Parliament will host a Sacred Music Night that will inspire, uplift and create a feeling of awe through the music of the world’s religions. The night will feature musicians and performers including Jack Lenz, John Anderson, lead singer of the band Yes, Red Sky: First Nations Contemporary Dance Ensemble and Aviva Chernick.

Margaret Atwood

On Monday, Nov. 5, Canadian poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist, inventor, teacher and environmental activist Margaret Atwood will join Parliament for an exciting session titled Women and Climate Change: A Conversation Between Margaret Atwood & Lucy Cummings. This conversation will explore the intertwined nature of climate change, conflict, and violence against women. The event begins at 4:15 p.m. in room 106.

A Dynamic Dialogue with the Right Honourable Kim Campbell

The Right Honourable Kim Campbell has served Canada as Prime Minister, Minister of Justice, Attorney General and Minister of Defence. She is the first woman to lead a government in North America and is a global thought leader of the highest order. This session will feature a lively dialogue with Jonathan Granoff and Audrey Kitagawa, Chair of the Parliament’s United Nations Task Force and President of the Light of Awareness Spiritual Family, followed by responses from retired Lieutenant-General Romeo Dallaire and Senator Douglas Roche. This session on Tuesday, Nov. 6 at 4:15 p.m. in room 106 will delve into what wise leadership, values, vision and politics look like on the personal, national and global level.

For more information about the seventh Parliament of the World’s Religions and all events, please visit www.parliamentofreligions.org

Follow them on twitter @InterfaithWorld and Instagram @InterfaithWorld and like them on Facebook

About Parliament of the World’s Religions

The Parliament of the World’s Religions was created to cultivate harmony among the world’s religious and spiritual communities and foster their engagement with the world and its guiding institutions to achieve a just, peaceful and sustainable world.

The 2018 Parliament of the World’s Religions is being hosted by the city of Toronto from November 1 – 7, 2018 at The Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MTCC). In its distinction as the world’s most diverse city, Toronto will showcase its unique values, achievements, and aspirations as the 7th host of the Parliament of the World’s Religions.

Birmingham Faith Leaders remember 9/11 and bless the Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation

Members of the Birmingham Faith Leaders Group read the ‘Charter For Forgiveness & Reconciliation’ Scroll

The Birmingham Faith Leaders Group (BFLG) met on the 17th anniversary of the shocking events of September 2011. The Group is composed of the principal leaders of Birmingham’s six major faith communities – Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists and Jews. The Group grew out of the immediate aftermath of the tragedy of 9/11 and the threats made to the Muslim community at that time. An initial gathering of faith leaders on the steps of Birmingham Central Mosque on 12th September 2001 led to the formation of the Group. During the subsequent years the group’s members have worked together to generate understanding between communities and to develop a diverse, faith-based vision for the city.

Manar Morzouk from Reset addresses the Faith Leaders

The meeting was held at Birmingham Progressive Synagogue and opened with a reflection from the host, Rabbi Margaret Jacobi.

The first order of the day was to hear from Manar Marzouk from the Charity Reset. Reset is a new charity partnering with leading refugee, faith and community charities to promote community sponsorship across the UK. It is working closely with a range of organisations to shape the UK’s community response to the Syrian crisis by building on the existing goodwill and compassion of people across the country. They encourage communities to come together to welcome, support and help refugee families as they rebuild their lives in the UK.

Bhai Sahib, Bhai Mohinder Singh presents the Charter Scroll to His Holiness Pope Francis to get it blessed

The BFLG then carried on with its busy agenda of business covering various upcoming events, project updates, and other faith business. One agenda item was the updating on the Museum of World’s Religions and the Charter for Forgiveness & Reconciliation (CfFR). As part of the update Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh OBE KSG, reported that excellent progress had been made with Patrons and supporters. He shared that His Holiness Pope Francis had recently blessed the CfFR scroll and Bhai Sahib Ji invited the Birmingham Faith Leaders to do the same.

After the event, Dr Josef Boehle, Director of the Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation, said, “The recent events including the appreciation and blessings of His Holiness Pope Francis are wonderful. The fact that the Faith Leaders regularly review and update each other on the Charter’s progress is excellent. Their blessing of the Charter on this auspicious date is even more poignant. The work on the Charter is going from strength to strength and we are planning a major event to launch the Charter next year. The vision of the Charter is to make a contribution to processes of forgiveness, reconciliation and sustainable peace, not only between individuals, communities and states, but also between faith traditions”.

Birmingham Lord Mayor, Cllr Yvonne Mosquito with the
Birmingham Faith Leaders Group at the Peace Garden

Following the reading and blessing of the Charter for Forgiveness & Reconciliation scroll, the faith leaders made their way to the multi-faith Peace Service held at the Peace Gardens in Birmingham. The aim of the service was to bring the city’s major religions even closer together. The Birmingham Faith Leaders group, which was created in the wake of the 9/11 atrocities, held its annual Inter Faith Service for Peace at the St Thomas Peace Garden in Bath Row.

The service originally began in response to hate attacks against Muslims following the Twin Towers attacks. The park itself is a tribute to those who have come to pass during times of unrest, who have suffered loss through terrorism, conflict and social upheaval. We have all experienced loss at some point in our lives and will continue to do so. Though grief is inevitable, it is important to remember those who have perished and to celebrate new life. This concept was clearly represented in the symbolic watering of a rose bush the Faith Leaders had planted in commemoration of the victims of the 9/11 attack. The coming together of humanity to prosper in troubling times and to triumph over strife in hopeful aspiration of the future.

Bhai Sahib, Bhai Mohinder Singh and the Lord Mayor
have a quick catch-up and discuss a visit to Soho Road Gurdwara

The Peace Garden event was attended by a diverse audience with people from many different faith groups coming together to have a minute of silence and pray together. The Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Cllr Yvonne Mosquito, also attended the event.

Jonathan Gurling, Executive Secretary of the Birmingham Faith Leaders Group, said: “We try to keep the event very simple and short so more people will attend and stay for it. The Faith Leaders Group was formed when the then Chief Minister at Singers Hill Synagogue, Rabbi Tann, was so incensed by the attacks on Muslims post 9/11, he telephoned Dr Naseem, the then Chairman of the Central Mosque, and asked to visit on September 12th when community prayers were being held. He was joined by Christian and Sikh leaders and the Faith Leaders Group grew out of this simple act of brotherhood”.

Bhai Sahib, Bhai (Dr) Mohinder Singh OBE KSG, Chairman of the Nishkam Civic Association and Co-Convenor of the Charter, later said, “Forgiveness originates from the Divine and forgiveness is essential in a fractured world. The whole of humanity is one family and we are all interconnected and interdependent. The root cause of conflict is the mind; everything starts in the human mind. It is great to have the Faith Leaders bless the Charter”.


Notes to Editors:

For more information: