Uniting religious communities

By Angel Capili

My track was all over the place before Envision – I had no idea what I wanted to do. But now I have a clear direction I want to go in. I think it’s really given me a focus. 

Our project was about breaking down stereotypes within religion. We picked that because the problem is there on different scales – like, it’s an issue in our area, but it’s also a problem in the world generally. And if people don’t try and change it, on any level, it’s just going to get bigger.

We were actually inspired by Travis, an Envision grad, who we knew had done loads of amazing stuff around stopping people use homophobic language last year. I think stereotypes in religion is the same kind of thing as that – sometimes it’s a part of people’s daily lives, but it can be really harmful.  I don’t think everyone gets that, so we wanted to educate people, just like Travis had.

We decided to hold an event where people from different religions could all come together, learn about each other, and go through the common misconceptions that people have. We invited leaders from religious groups to speak, and also a diversity charity.

An event like that had never happened in our area before.  We knew it had quite a serious theme, so we had to get a bit creative to make sure people would be interested - especially people our own age.  Our mentor was so good at helping us develop our ideas. She gave us input, but we carried it from there, so we got to be independent, which I think we all liked.

It was nice to have her be confident in us to do things we’d come up with. I think it helped us be more confident in ourselves.

We decided to create some cool visual stuff for the event, like posters and information packs about the different religions. We put the packs in goodie bags for people to take away, and also included bookmarks we’d made so people would have a reminder of what they’d learnt. 

I was made creative manager, so producing the packs was down to me. There was a bit of a disaster when the printers printed them wrong right before the event, and to start with I totally panicked. But actually it wasn’t the end of the world – I managed to sort them out and everyone said they looked really great.

I think going through that taught me to handle problems more calmly, and not get as stressed out.

The event itself went really well – we were knackered after! I’d never met religious leaders from other faiths and it made me really want to learn more about different religions, different cultures… that kind of thing.  It felt amazing to see everyone come together. People said that they’d learnt a lot. Religious stereotypes aren’t going to stop overnight, but I know we’ve planted a seed there. That makes me feel really positive and proud.

I also feel really good ‘cos Envision’s helped me realise what I want to do next. I was a bit lost before, but being creative manager has made me want to go into media and communications.  I’d probably want to specialise in the area of international relations - our topic got me really interested in that.

Since I discovered that I have these creative skills, I put myself up to be Communications Officer at the Student Union. I got elected, which felt really empowering.  I’m pleased that as part of the Student Union, I can keep being proactive and changing things.

Two of my teammates – who have become my best friends - were elected as Interfaith Officer, and Equality and Diversity Officer. It seems like we’ve all been heavily influenced by what we did with Envision!