Christian, Jewish and Muslim panel for Ham&High mental health event

Mother Carol Barrett Ford, Bibi Khan and Rabbi David Mason

Mother Carol Barrett Ford, Bibi Khan and Rabbi David Mason - Credit: Barrett Ford/Khan/Mason

Our communities have seen lives turned upside down by the pandemic, and our faith leaders have been on the front line, supporting their congregations.

At the free event Ham&High: Our Community's Mental Health on May 21, we will be discussing faith and wellbeing, and the experiences of some of those involved.

On the panel will be Mother Carol Barrett Ford, of St Martin's Church, Gospel Oak; Bibi Khan, president of London Islamic Cultural Society and Mosque; and Rabbi David Mason of Muswell Hill Synagogue and chair of Haringey Faith Network.

Bibi said: "Many families struggled with bereavement at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. Never before have we witnessed such devastation. Diversity, faith or gender did not protect anyone. The virus tore through our communities taking no prisoners. 

"As the effect of this virus was largely unknown relatives were taken to hospital. Their families were unable to see their loved ones.

"Their dear ones passed without their loved ones being with them. No chance to comfort or even hold their hands and they were buried without the customary religious requirements. 

"As lockdown is made easier, and this being our month of Ramadan, families are now showing the effect of this period as it takes a toll on their mental wellbeing, on families, especially the children. 

"Tears, distress, pain and the terrible sense of unfairness suffocate our community. Now we have to act to heal and support, counsel, re-build and listen to those who are suffering." 

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Mother Carol said: "Over lockdown one of the things many people realised in a new way was the interlinked nature of our physical, mental and spiritual health.

"We know that our physical needs, such as food and shelter, are vital. However, to truly flourish as human beings our mental and spiritual health is also very important.

"We need to feel safe and loved, to have contact with friends and family. Gathering as a faith community helps a human being to make sense of the world and is another dimension of wellbeing."

Rabbi Mason said that last year many of the challenges were around the practicalities of worshiping safely in the synagogue.

"However, as lockdown began last March, we needed to increase and intensify the welfare help we offered our members and I am so proud that we achieved this in abundance," he said. 

"Through use of communications tools such as WhatsApp, and and a dedicated helpline, as well as the great work of our care coordinator, we were able to find out members needs and direct volunteers to be able to help."

Ham&High: Our Community's Mental Health will be a full day of free events on the subject of mental health, including nutrition, gardening and parenting sessions, and an interview with Alastair Campbell and Fiona Millar. The panel on faith and wellbeing will begin at 2pm.

Register for free here.