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 –
  2. Sri Guru Ram Das Institute of Dental Sciences & Research –
  3. The Peace Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation –
  4. Barcelona Langar

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.

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 –
  2. Peace Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation –
  3. University of Birmingham Mega Event –
  4. Nishkam School Trust Vision –
  5. When Theresa May visited the Nishkam Primary School –

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

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  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.

For more articles like the above please visit

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.
  2. World Economic Forum 2020 – ‘The Role of Faith for a Cohesive and Sustainable World’
  3. World Economic Forum 2020 – The ‘Religious Leaders’ Role in Safeguarding Communities’
  4. Museum of Worlds’ Religionsorg,
  5. Peace Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation,

For more articles like the above please visit

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 –

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

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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:

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Chaplaincy from the Heart of Faith

Bhai Sahib Bhai (Dr) Mohinder Singh with the students at the Forgiveness event

Representatives from various faith traditions came together to develop a ( Level 4) ‘Understanding Chaplaincy from a Faith Perspective’ training course. The collaboration was funded by the Urban Church Fund through the Near Neighbours Programme and delivered by experienced project co-ordinator and tutor, Narinder Kaur.­

Participants helping in the formation of the course included those from the Buddhist, Christian, Ras Tafari, Islam and Sikh Dharam (way of life), with an objective to inspire, educate, train and empower others to deliver Chaplaincy from the heart of faith.

The Nishkam Centre became the source for the delivery of the training programme, registering 14 chaplains as students from various faith traditions who took a total of 60 voluntary hours each to complete the course.

Abbas Shah an Islam Chaplain from Clifton Road Mosque said: “What has been unique about this course is that it has provided a perspective from various faiths with genuine respect and enquiry”

Father Julian Sampson (speaker) with Narinder Kaur at St Micheal’s Church

Moqapi Selassie Ras Tafari Heritage Chaplain commented: “So the Level 2 Chaplaincy Course came at the right time. I finished the course and in 2015 I started working as a Ras Tafari Prison Chaplain and completing the Level 4 Course to further enhance my knowledge base and experience”

To enhance the training and better understand Chaplaincy in the 21st Century, Chaplains from Organisations and Faith Communities were invited as speakers. Presentations included insight into community, healthcare, police and prison chaplaincy procedures as well as the latest research in values led approaches.

Students had the opportunity to participate in the ‘Forgiveness Charter Reconciliation’ project to further understand and learn about the toolkit and steps to forgive oneself and others to deepen and build on broken relationships.

The key elements of the course were to understand faith and organisational policy, procedure, guidelines, ethos, ethics, mandatory requirements, equality and diversity. Cultivating dignity and respect, customer care and understanding the individual faith requirements of chaplaincy from the life cycle of conception, birth, childhood, middle age and old age through to the end of life cycle including all faith celebrations and solemnizations.

Prayer and Religious Care is the highlight of chaplaincy which go hand in hand with a listening ear, supportive care and kind words of comfort through faith ethos, values and a ‘culture sensitivity’ practice to serve all of humanity along with customer care. In addi

Students at Central Mosque

tion to develop the skillsets of the chaplaincy students they took part in role plays, communication skills, presentation skills and confidence building and an understanding of ‘practice what we preach’, seeing the image of the Divine in all.

The participants visited three local places of worship: St Michael’s Church, Central Lozells Mosque and Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha Gurudwara all in the Lozell’s and East Handsworth Ward, giving students a better understanding on how religious worship contributes in the healing process of the body, mind and soul. This allowed the participants to have a feel of the spiritual aura around the focal point of each place of worship.

A series of personal statements and evaluations where also captured as project evidence.

Mike Anderson verifying the course work with Narinder Kaur

Mike Anderson the Quality Advisor for Open College Network recently examined the student files and was very pleased with the achievements by the students and level of commitment by the Nishkam Centre.

Dayal Kaur presenting on Sikh Dharam and Sikh Rogi Aasra (chaplaincy)

Santander grant to enhance services to the community

santanderOn Friday 29th July 2016 senior members of Santander visited the Nishkam Centre to present a cheque for £5,000 from the Santander Foundation. This was a great opportunity to share information and better understand each other’s organisation. The Santander Foundation is at the heart of the bank’s community activities, providing grants to small charities and social enterprises working with disadvantaged people to fund skills, knowledge and innovation projects across the UK. The grant will enable the Centre to upgrade the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) suite and to provide essential services.

Ravinder Singh Sidhu, Branch Director from the Financial Centre in Birmingham and Branch Manager, Harry Singh Saggu, visited the Nishkam Centre to meet with Amrick Singh, Nishkam Centre Director and Narinder Kaur, who developed and submitted the application. The meeting enabled the two organisations better understand each other’s priorities and activities and to discuss future collaboration. The grant was awarded by the Santander Foundation to upgrade the Nishkam Centre’s ICT suite. Opening the meeting Amrick Singh offered thanks on behalf of the Board, the team at the Nishkam Centre and all beneficiaries for the support Santander had provided to the Nishkam Centre.

The Nishkam Centre prides itself on the services that it provides, in particular those that are provided free at the point of use. The influx of mature and sometimes non-English-speaking people, with limited computer skills who wish to learn how to use a computer, has presented a challenge for the centre with the ageing equipment.

Ravinder Singh Sidhu and Harry Singh Saggu (both centre) present cheque to Amrick Singh and Narinder Kaur (L & R)

Ravinder Singh Sidhu and Harry Singh Saggu (both centre) present cheque to Amrick Singh and Narinder Kaur (L & R)

The grant will allow disadvantaged people to achieve basic knowledge and up-skill individuals in the use of computers.  Having the skills and access to IT will allow people to become self-sufficient in form filling, carrying out job searches and applying for jobs. Learning how to shop online will also enable individuals to make better use of their, often limited, funds as they will be able to buy goods more competitively and shop around for services such as utilities.

Narinder Kaur, who coordinates the Sikh Rogi Aasra (Chaplaincy Services) Team said, “The grant will go a long way to helping us provide the much needed services in the community. We were elated to hear the application had been successful and this is great news for the community.”

Having Ravinder and Harry present the cheque to the team at the Centre was a fantastic opportunity for the Santander team to better understand and appreciate the work of the centre. During the meeting the Santander team were impressed with everything the Nishkam Centre was doing to make a difference to the lives of the local, regional and international communities. They were particularly interested in how the Nishkam Centre, a Sikh inspired organisation that is sometimes misconceived to be only for the Sikhs / Punjabis was engaging with so many diverse communities across Birmingham.

Amrick Singh took great pleasure in explaining to the visitors the significance and ethos that underpinned all the activities that the Nishkam Centre and the Nishkam Group undertakes. He articulated the importance and significance of understanding the brand, ‘Nishkam’ – which literally translated means selfless service to all without expectation of reward or recompense. Both Ravinder and Harry were also impressed by the diverse variety of activities that were undertaken by the small team at the centre with the support of many volunteers yet managed to reach out to so many in a super-diverse city.

Ravinder Singh said: “We are always looking for opportunities to support local charities and communities in the great work that they do. The Santander Foundation makes hundreds of donations

(L-R) Amrick Singh, Ravinder Singh and Harry Singh in the newly refurbished ICT Suite

(L-R) Amrick Singh, Ravinder Singh and Harry Singh in the newly refurbished ICT Suite

every year to good causes throughout the UK. We are committed to playing a key part in the community and are delighted to be supporting the Nishkam Centre in this way and we hope the donation makes a real difference to local people. Having seen the ICT suite I am impressed with the new kit, the setup and the usage that this equipment will get at the centre. We look forward to further supporting this very worthy cause in the future.”

Ravinder Singh and Harry Singh were delighted to have a tour of the upgraded ICT suite after the cheque presentation and buffet lunch, giving them the opportunity to observe the results of the funding and some of the learners who benefitted.

After the meeting, Amrick Singh said, “It was inspiring to meet like-minded individuals from an organisation that was keen to work with community groups, charities and the third sector to see how they could support activities. It would be very difficult for us as an organisation to self-finance all the activities that we do and still offer them to those disadvantaged and deprived without the support of partners who enable us to provide the services that we do. Our parent organisation Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha (GNNSJ) has always stood by us and supported us in our time of need, and it is the support of other organisations like Santander who visited today, and all the other partners that have funded us in the past, that we have a great debt of gratitude.

“The meeting was very positive insofar as it enabled us to have a conversation around Santander’s charitable activities and some of the challenges the Nishkam Centre and other partner organisations were facing regarding grants. I must say we look forward to working with organisations like Santander to see how we continue to support the disadvantaged communities that we work with and serve.


Nishkam volunteer completes gruelling 130 mile bike ride to raise funds for Queen Elizabeth Hospital

To look at Tarlok Singh Virdee is your average 60 year old from Leicester’s Sikh community. However, the Nishkam volunteer is prone to taking on something quite extraordinary be it weightlifting, cycling, donating or pushing his body to the limit.

mr virdee
The year has been difficult for him and his family with the loss of two of his brothers Salinder Singh and Jasbir Singh. In memory of his brothers, he is participated in a 130 mile Sikh Arts and Cultural Association (SACA) Charity Bike Ride. The funds raised will provide a home from home for families of children and young people with cancer on-site of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.

SACA Charity Bike Ride from Birmingham to London is testing and gruelling and Tarlok is asking friends, family and the public to donate to this fantastic cause. Having successfully completed the ride last weekend, he is keen to raise maximum funds for a great cause. Tarlok Singh is no stranger to punishing himself; he took part in last year’s bike ride. The whole event then raised over £71,000 for the Children’s Radiotherapy Ward at Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital Birmingham.

me virdee 2SACA, a 100% volunteer charity organisation is the main organiser of the event – over the years it has ensured the need for safety and improvements. In 1984 a group of 14 aspiring youths decided to establish a challenge that could help both local and national children’s charities. They considered a number of sporting events that would test both their determination and personal fitness. They also considered the key element of working as a team and supporting each other. The challenge would require endurance, fitness and careful planning. They set the standard for what has now become a yearly summer event lasting 2 days. The Birmingham to London cycle ride now attracts riders from all over the country and international riders each year and involves months of planning and adherence to safety management disciplines.

Last year, with the relentless effort from riders, a staggering £71,173 was raised for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Children’s radiotherapy ward. This year, the money raised by the SACA Charity Bike Ride 2016 will be used to fund a ‘home from home’ in association with Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham for families of children and young adults receiving cancer treatment. Every year a children’s charity is selected as the ride’s beneficiary. Over the last 31 years, the ride has raised in excess of £450,000 in aid of different children’s charity groups.

The Teenage Cancer Trust Young Person’s Unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital is for 16-24 year olds and has 11 in-patient beds and a day-care facility. The first unit in Birmingham was built at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham in 2000 as one of the first Teenage Cancer Trust units in the country. This amazing unit was updated and re-provided in May 2011 when the new hospital was built.

Tarlok Singh said, “The Nishkam Centre and Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha (GNNSJ) are always supporting charitable causes here in the UK and abroad. I respect the Chairman Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh who encourages us all to participate in charitable and benevolent acts.  I took part in this two day bike ride on the 16th and 17th of July to raise as much money as I can to help fellow human beings.

“It was a very difficult undertaking and I struggled. I was honoured to be amongst cycling professionals, novices, and people who generally wanted to raise funds for a good cause. I am glad I undertook my training and was able to participate in small events leading up to this big event. I would like to encourage as many people as possible to donate to good causes to help others. It would be great if people could find it in their hearts to support me to raise funds for Birmingham Children’s Hospital. I have exceeded the target I set myself but we welcome additional funds so that we can beat our total of £71,000 last year.”

The ride started from Birmingham (Smethwick) and proceeded through Coventry, Daventry and through Milton Keynes taking in the picturesque views of our British countryside. It then reached its centennial milestone in Luton where there was an overnight stay. The ride continued in the morning, in Luton and passed through St Albans, Radlet, Elstree and Harrow before reaching its final destination to Southall in West London.

To support Tarlok Singh on his quest please donate via his JustGiving page