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Civil Service

Faith and belief in the Civil Service in 2019 – building bridges and making connections

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Head and shoulders image of Clare Moriarty
Clare Moriarty, Permanent Secretary, Department for Exiting the European Union, and Civil Service Faith & Belief Champion

The new year offers not only a look ahead at what is to come, but a chance for reflection on the previous year, and I wanted to share some of the many highlights of 2019 from my role as Civil Service Faith and Belief Champion.

Firstly, I would like to say a big thank you to the fantastic group of departmental faith and belief champions and the growing number of brilliant faith and belief employee networks who have helped to deliver the programme I set out in June.

In 2018 we saw a new Humanists network established across government, and I was delighted to see another cross-government network launch in 2019, in the form of the Hindu Connection. The networks are essential in demystifying faith and belief, helping colleagues to understand the beliefs that shape people's identity and what they wear, eat and do as a result.

In November we celebrated Inter Faith Week, which was shaped around the theme of building bridges, highlighting the shared values we all have, no matter what our religion. We had more events and discussions around the country for Inter Faith week than ever before. I had the pleasure of sharing a podium with Nuzhat Ali (chair of the cross-government Muslim Network and winner of the first Civil Service Diversity & Inclusion award for Faith and Belief) at an interfaith 'mixer' event, where around 100 colleagues shared their stories.

We have also started to address the more difficult topics that surround faith and belief. It was a pleasure to be able to explore one aspect of that question jointly with Jonathan Slater during National Inclusion Week, at an event focused on the intersection between faith and sexuality. There is no easy answer to some of the issues we surfaced, but the chance to do so with the support of so many civil servants was extremely valuable as we continue our journey to being the most inclusive employer we can be.

It has been a busy year, and I expect 2020 to continue in that vein as we seek to deliver a ‘Year of Inclusion’ across all of our work, not just faith and belief. That will give us the chance to develop more practical guidance like the Faith and Belief Toolkit we launched in June. It will also give us the chance to explore how confident discussion of faith and belief can lead to more inclusive policy making, which I know will improve outcomes for the citizens we serve.

So, to finish, I would like to wish everyone a happy new year. I hope those of you who celebrated Christmas and Hanukkah had a restful festive break, and suggest that we all take the time to reflect on 2019. Let's think of the connections we have made and how we can not only build on them but reach out to make new ones in 2020.

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  1. Comment by Clare Moriarty posted on

    Thanks Gavin. It's certainly been very interesting to understand the perspective of people from different faiths and belief systems. There are important shared values.

  2. Comment by Gavin Thomas posted on

    Happy New Year Clare! Thank you for your personal reflections and for your support.

    As someone, who whilst not a strict follower, has sought to follow the Christian faith, I have been made well aware during my short time spent in Istanbul of the challenge of trying to follow your faith / belief whilst maintaining personal safety.

    It is really encouraging that the Group has looked to work with a range of faiths and beliefs and provide a more inclusive environment.

  3. Comment by Terry Hegarty posted on

    Thank you for taking on the champion role. I've worked as a civil servant for the last 29 years and whilst I've always been open about my Christian faith, it is only in the last few weeks, building on the inter faith week that we have been able to get a Christian network meeting together here at Bishopsgate House in Darlington. There is something incredibly satisfying about being able to meet together to discuss issues, pray for the work that we all do on a day to day basis, and also to say to people in a very real way that it is OK to bring your whole self to work, including facilitating meeting between those of different faiths and none. Well done.

    • Replies to Terry Hegarty>

      Comment by Clare Moriarty posted on

      Thanks Terry, great to hear that.