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On 2nd September, Cardinal Vincent joined faith leaders at the Tower of London to celebrate the contribution of faith communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The interfaith event was organised by the Naz Legacy Foundation, a UK-based charity with a mission to help young people from minority communities and disadvantaged backgrounds by supporting their education whilst encouraging positive integration into British society. The evening celebration was the charity’s first in-person event since 2019, with young people, COVID heroes and community leaders from across London in attendance.

Cardinal Vincent was one of the speakers at the event. Addresses were also made by Health Secretary Sajid Javid, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, Imam Mahmoud, Senior Imam at the East London Mosque and Sajidah Patel, Director of Operations at the Naz Legacy Foundation.

In his address, Cardinal Vincent spoke about the ‘heroic service’ given in every community during the pandemic:

‘This evening is our opportunity to salute and thank so many people for the steadfast, quiet and, at times, heroic service given in every community in this land during the pandemic which has so shaped our lives. Most of that service has gone unsung. It has been freely given and gratefully received by those in need. It consists in countless, simple acts of kindness as well as well-coordinated community efforts to alleviate loneliness, to combat stress and fatigue and ensure practical help to so many.’

The Cardinal also spoke about the role of faith in underpinning service:

‘This evening is also our opportunity to appreciate the role of faith in the lives of so many people in underpinning this service. I believe there has been an increasing recognition of the role of our faith communities in the long struggle against the pandemic. Indeed, our communities are also emerging as significant contributors to the ways in which we meet the challenges of people arriving here from Afghanistan. Faith in God fashions who we are; it deepens the motivation to serve; it helps us to understand that whatever strength and resources we possess are best used in service.’

During his speech, Sajid Javid said: ‘The term “social distancing” was never quite right. I think in many ways we came together in no way that we had seen before … We’ve seen the role that interfaith dialogue has played in this coming together.’

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis pointed to our responsibility to those in need: ‘An integral part of our responsibility to God is our responsibility to the weak and to the vulnerable.’

Imam Mahmoud spoke about community: ‘Building communities is not just about physical proximity, but about fostering connections of the heart.’

Speaking about the response of faith communities during the pandemic, Sajidah Patel said: ‘There have been beacons of shining light. Communities have come together and shown what it means to be a United Kingdom.’

Image: Naz Legacy Foundation