THE FIRST INTERFAITH AWARD
Blackburn Central High School wins Renee Black Integration Award 2021
By Aftab Alexander Mughal
On 3 November, during the Town’s Community Volunteer Awards 2021 event, organised by Community CVS, Blackburn Central High School (BCHS) won the Renee Black Integration – interfaith – Award for 2021. This was the first time that an interfaith award created by Blackburn with Darwen Interfaith Forum (IFF) had been sponsored by Al-Imdad Foundation UK, the St Annes Synagogue, and Blackburn Rovers. During the ceremony, the winner of the award was announced by Rabbi Danny Bergson from St. Annes Synagogue. The award was awarded to BCHS for their outstanding voluntary contribution to bringing together the different communities of Blackburn with Darwen, to build a shared understanding between different sections of the local communities. The other finalists were; BwD Carers – Asian Carers Group, and Shamina Faiz and Sarah Hussain.
Renee Black was the Jewish faith representative on the IFF, and was a founder member some 20 years ago. She was an enthusiastic member, deeply committed to building better understanding and cooperation between members of all the major world faiths and worked tirelessly to achieve this. Derek Estill, Secretary of the Interfaith Forum, admired her services and said, “She devoted much of her time to helping people learn about different cultures and religions to foster a better understanding between communities.”
Since 2012, BCHS has been serving one of the most deprived areas in the country. With intake from a wide range of local primary schools, they have a wonderfully diverse mix of nationalities in their school community. The school community works together, bringing together many different languages, faiths, nationalities, and cultures. Mrs. Shanaz Hussain, Headteacher of the school, proudly said, “It is a real privilege and an honour to accept this award on behalf of the school family. I am proud to work in such a richly diverse school, and so proud of the staff and students who have worked tirelessly bringing communities together and for finding a way to support those in need.”
Ms. Black was a well-known person across the borough, and is much in our memories because of the wonderful contribution she made to promote interfaith work. The Interfaith Forum is, therefore, keen on secure her legacy and are delighted to have been able to create an Interfaith Award in her name that is open to all sections of society. “We believe that the ‘Renee Black Interfaith Award’ will support and promote our objective of building stronger and better community relations by promoting and celebrating interfaith work,” Mr. Estill added.
In her message to Interfaith Forum, Donna Talbot, the organiser of the event, said that the evening was an amazing success and feedback from guests, winners and sponsors have been phenomenal. Without the generosity of our sponsors, the event simply could not go ahead.