72 volunteers from Surrey Police joined Muslim colleagues and communities to show their support and learn more about Islam and observing Ramadhan, as part of a ‘Fasting Collective’ organised by the Force’s Inclusion team on Wednesday, 28 April.
Ramadhan commenced on Monday, 12 April and lasts for 30 days, coming to a close around Tuesday, 11 May with the celebratory day of Eid ul-Fitr on Wednesday, 12 May. This is the second year in which Muslims have not been able to celebrate Ramadhan how they would usually due to COVID-19 restrictions still being in place, and the Force have been very mindful of the impact this without a doubt has on staff, and the community.
Dawn Hickman, Accounts Assistant, volunteered to take part in a fast, and shares her experience: “Although not motivated by religious beliefs, I found it to be a good test of my own resilience and discipline.
“There are so many people in the world who don’t have enough to eat or drink and go to bed and wake up with an empty stomach, so I think my one day was very doable. I enjoyed the challenge and would take part again.”
Partners from Surrey County Council, and Imam Sabah Ahmedi also joined in, and food parcels were supplied by the Ahmaydiyya Muslim Youth Organisation for enjoy at Iftar, along with a certificate from the President, Abdul Quddus Arif.
Yousaf Aftab, Vice President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association UK said: “It brings us great pleasure to know that more than 70 members of Surrey Police fasted for one day during Ramadhan as part of their ‘Fasting Collective’ supported by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association.
“For Muslims, Ramadhan is an opportunity to increase our faith in God and to better appreciate the difficult realities faced by so many in society who, irrespective of faith or background, are forced to fast every day of the year due to poverty.
“Taking part in this initiative is a wonderful gesture and speaks to the humanity and openness of Surrey Police. Having worked closely with Surrey Police for decades, we are very familiar with the brave and tireless service offered by officers and staff serving in the Force. We therefore thank Surrey Police for joining us in the fast and for their incredible service to society.”
Reflecting on his experience of fasting for a day, Deputy Chief Constable Nev Kemp said: “The camaraderie of being together from Sahoor (before sunrise) to Iftar (after sunset), not just with colleagues in Surrey but with Muslims globally, really helped to focus me throughout the day.
“Although it was challenging, and I felt quite cold and tired towards the end, I could reflect that I would be able to eat at Iftar, whilst others are not always so fortunate. My appreciation and respect for the discipline required to complete Ramadhan has grown my admiration for our fasting colleagues as well. Thank you to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community for their contribution and support.”
The Force have been holding additional events for Ramadhan internally, such as webinar learning sessions, and a cooking event is also due to take place in May for those not on duty. Throughout the month, the Force has provided officers and staff with guidance and information supplied by the National Association of Muslim Police to highlight impacts fasting, and restrictions, has on individuals, and how they can treat each Muslim observing a fast during Ramadhan, whether a member of the public, or member of staff, mindfully, and as an individual.
Farhan Hayat, Deputy Inclusion Lead and Chair of Surrey Police Association of Culture & Ethnicity (SPACE) said: “As a race and ethnicity staff network, we have been so touched and humbled by the support seen throughout Surrey Police for Muslim colleagues observing the holy month of Ramadhan.
“To authentically understand the lived experience of others, it is so important to live and share those experiences with them. What the Fasting Collective allowed, was for colleagues across the Force to share in an experience so fundamentally important to our Muslim colleagues and communities. The love, respect and enthusiasm for this initiative was truly inspiring and helped us foster stronger connections with our local Muslim communities which we are keen to continue expanding.”
Inclusion and diversity are extremely important to Surrey Police, last year we launched our commitments, which we have committed to respect, and reflect, the differences in communities we serve. In March, the Force signed up to the Race at Work Charter, which launched in partnership with the UK Government in 2018 with a view to improving the experiences of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic employees in the workplace.
The Force also has an established staff network ‘The Surrey Police Association of Culture and Ethnicity’, who liaise with internal and external associations, groups, and individuals with a view to valuing diversity, promoting cultural awareness, breaking down barriers, challenging discrimination and accepting and understanding all individuals within the force and the wider community.