Why faith is important in our work with children and families
For Inter Faith Week, Chair of Cafcass Faith Network Louise Jones describes what faith means to her and why it’s important to think about faith as part of a person’s uniqueness.
When life is hard, when disappointment hits, when the struggles we face seem overwhelming, my faith gives me something to hope for. I take rest and reassurance in knowing my place and my purpose in life, and I take inspiration and hope from my friends, community and colleagues from different faith backgrounds whose beliefs and support systems are so similar to mine.
We have shared experiences. We have faith in a higher purpose. Whilst the name and shape and story behind our religions and beliefs may differ, the values are rooted in love, in service to others and our communities and in our sense of hope.
I am constantly reminded of the stories of people from different faith backgrounds who experience discrimination and judgement. People who live with anxiety and fear that those they meet may judge them because of their faith or religion.
Assumptions are made, and people look at us and treat us differently. Many people feel uncomfortable talking about their faith or belief – partly because it’s a private matter and partly because in doing so, they might open themselves up to the preconceptions of other people or have to justify their beliefs in some way. Equally, asking other people about their faith can also feel difficult – questions about faith can risk feeling intrusive or patronising, or even ignorant.
So during Inter Faith Week, the Cafcass Faith Network challenges everyone and especially professionals working with children and families to think about faith as a part of a person’s story, part of their uniqueness.
It is important. It shapes our behaviour, our attitudes and our actions. Our faith or belief shapes how we make sense of the world and everything in it.
For the children and families with whom we work, faith matters. It is important to take the time to ask and understand what faith means to that child or young person, including how it shapes their day-to-day life and also how it shapes their thinking.
Take some time to consider the potential adversity, discrimination and judgements that they may face from those they encounter as a result of their faith. Some may feel shame and fear when asked to talk about their faith and religion because of their experiences.
For some children their faith is so integral to their thinking and day-to-day life that they may not realise that the way they think or practise their faith may be different to others. Take the time to ask “what does it mean to you?” “What does it look like?” Take time to understand that person’s world.
Let’s commit to increasing our awareness of different faiths and beliefs so that we can better understand and support our colleagues and the children and young people with whom we work.