Huge thanks to Cllr Bill Hartnett, the faith leaders and the people who attended which made the first Redditch Faith Walk a resounding success. Hundreds of people took part to learn more about Christianity, Islam, Sikh and the Hindu faith and it was inspiring to see and be a part of.
Our different Redditch communities have been taking steps to get to know each other better, the bandstand festivals involve our many cultures, faith leaders attending services from other faiths and different celebrations of culture, all very much spurred on by a desire to work together better and act of defiance towards those who try to cause division in Redditch. Sunday was another big step forward and I am sure everyone in attendance and many more besides not only want us to live peacefully side by side but want to understand each other and see what we have in common above what sets us apart.
In standing to represent our town and the wider constituency as Member of Parliament in less than two weeks time I am acutely aware that there is more that governments can do to address fears about immigration. One, by stating clearly that the UK could not be the great county it is without migrants. Two, having fair controls that give the indigenous population and migrants’ confidence in the system. Three, not scapegoating migrants for the failings of government policy.
I want this country to have a fair immigration policy that includes welcoming people who have the right skills, retaining the free movement of people within the EU alongside stronger controls and playing our part in helping people suffering persecution. Not what we have now, which is that if your bank balance is large enough you are welcome, regardless of the skills you have to bring. Or appeasing people on the right by stoking up anti EU sentiments which puts our county's long term prosperity at risk. Or cutting border control staff and then sending vans into communities telling people to go home.
I know the answers to better relations between any groups is to get to know one another, show each other respect and celebrate our differences in a way that brings people together. This may have been our first multi faith walk, but I am confident it will not be the town's last.