Peace Feast

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As we look to the future and plan how we can rebuild our city after Covid, I had the honour of interviewing Councillor Asher Craig, Deputy Mayor for Bristol to discover what we can learn from unsung heroes in this season, how Bristol's One City Plan is making it a more inclusive and empowering place to live, and how a Citizens' Assembly is paving the way for real democracy. With deep and soulful music from Firewoodisland, written for a time such as this, and with a delicious vegetarian feast from Baraka Community Café, delivered to more than 70 people by a team of cyclists, this was a Peace Feast to remember.

Comments include:

"I was so struck by the grassroots mutual aid during the first wave, so many friends have been helped with food parcels etc, it's really meaningful."

"Esther, the salad was AMAZING! Even my vegetable-suspicious children enjoyed it."

"Thank you guys great food for thought and ACTION."

With thanks to Great Get Together Facebook community grants for enabling this event. 

 

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In December, I had the privilege of meeting Fr Dr Nadim Nassar, Director of the Awareness Foundation, for our Virtual Christmas Peace Feast. From the safety of the beautiful Beddington Park, I caught up with Dr Nadim to hear about life by the sea in Syria, where we can find hope this Christmas and peace between the East and West. With live music, some tasty festive bakes and inspiring words from Dr Nadim, it was an encouraging night in a year where we're looking for hope.

Some reflections on the evening include:

"I like the way Dr Nassar talks about after the pandemic stopping to reflect on our relationship with God, creation and each other."

"Thank you for such a positive look at diversity and an attitude of learning when approaching difference that one might not have come across before."

"Fr Dr Nadim Nassar is very inspirational, appreciated his comments of the importance of small acts of kindness"

An extra highlight of the evening was seeing our friend Abdul-Haleem and the feast of traditional Arabic pastries that he had prepared for his family. Abdul-Haleem and his family were part of Bridges' Middle East b.friend programme and I had the honour of meeting them, along with their b.friend volunteer Beth, back in the summer. His Arabic sweets are the finest I have ever tasted!

With thanks to Great Get Together Facebook community grants for enabling this event. 

 

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In October 2020 I had the honour of interviewing Kim Leadbeater, ambassador to the Jo Cox Foundation, to seek some advice and inspiration on how to overcome isolation in this season. Jo Cox was MP for Batley and Spen until her tragic murder in 2016 and her sister, Kim Leadbeater vowed to continue her legacy by serving isolated communities around our nation, bringing people together, overcoming differences and unlocking a wave of compassion.

They follow the conviction that 'We have more in common than that which divides us' which is a quote from Jo's first speech in Westminster and their 'Great Get Together' has been an amazing success, bringing people together in cities right across the country.

Kim emplored us to keep going in the spirit of reaching out to our neighbours, encouraged us to seek help ourselves when we need it, and championed those who have rolled their sleeves up and sought to build new friendships in their communities, from faith groups, to school groups, to neighbourhood gatherings, all looking out for one another in lockdown.

We were joined by friends in Bristol, Coventry, Sweden and Dubai and with magnificent music from Danny Vincent and Dijwar Khalil along with delicious food from Lona restaurant, it was a joyful and inspiring evening.

With thanks to Great Get Together Facebook community grants for enabling this event. 

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Virtual Peace Feast Speakers

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We had the privilege of partnering with Bristol Refugee Festival last week to host our second Virtual Peace Feast. Baraka Community Café cooked up the most colourful feast I have ever seen, a halloumi salad with roasted aubergines, spiced mango, free-range eggs and fresh pomegranate seeds, with an 'Easton Mess' to finish, (a tropical take on the classic Eton Mess), courtesy of Emmeline.

Our sterling team of cyclists delivered the feast to houses all over Bristol, and Dijwar Khalil performed a set of traditional Syrian music, while people ate together, from the safety of their own homes. It was a delight to hear from our three esteemed speakers, Bushra Alsakkaf, Filsan Adan and Lizzie Briggs who shared their stories of living, working and championing the lives of refugees and asylum seekers in the city.

Bushra modelled the grace, positivity and determination many refugees have shown in adapting to a new culture, learning a new language and serving a new city. Filsan spoke eloquently about the joys and challenges of growing up with dual identities, raised in a British city, within a Somali family and she captured the heart of the Somali 'entrepreneurial spirit,' adapting to situations with creativity and resourcefulness. Lizzie shared the wonderful work of Bristol Hospitality Network who have been supporting refugees and asylum seekers in Bristol for many years, seeing men and women who have fled war-torn regions, flourishing in a new culture.

It was inspiring to hear such personal accounts from people who have pioneered a way for refugees to excel in our city and contribute to Bristol's global culture. A particular highlight was hearing Filsan speak of the women's craft collective, a group of refugee ladies who are embroidering face masks for people in Bristol, so we can continue to stay safe as lockdown eases.

The inspiration I personally felt from the speakers was mirrored in the conversations I had over the Zoom 'coffee-lounge' and it was a pleasure to meet new people, British and Syrian, and to hear one another's stories.

Thanks to Esther and her team for such a flavoursome feast, thanks to the team of cyclists who delivered it to homes across the city, and massive respect to our musician and speakers, Dijwar, Bushra, Filsan and Lizzie for bringing your talents and wisdom to the evening.

Here's what some guests had to say,

"I enjoyed the sense of community, even virtually, of sharing time together and bringing people together with food and beautiful music. I also enjoyed learning about different cultures and hearing about different experiences to my own. It was such a positive evening and I felt happy to be involved!" (Kathleen)

"Eating the same food together helps make you feel part of something bigger, and tangibly connects all sorts of people from across the city." (Anon)

"Wonderful food combined with interesting, informative speakers." (Hilary)

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Bushra, from Bridges for Communities, serves a vegetarian feast

It was such a pleasure to host our first Peace Feast at the Baraka Community Café in Easton Family Centre. People from many different cultures, nationalities and faiths came together for a delicious vegetarian feast, with music from the talented Dijwar Khalil.

New friendships were forged, new recipes were welcomed, and a good time was had by all.

Special thanks to Dijwar, Mohammed and Bushra for sharing their stories of life in Eritrea and Syria. It was a very moving time and they all spoke with great passion about their journeys to the UK and their hopes and dreams for the future.

A highlight for many was the spontaneous singing and dancing at the end, as guests joined in with traditional Arabic songs.

Some comments on the night include...

"A very enjoyable evening talking to different people and the Baraka food was lovely"

"I found the atmosphere brilliant... so much joy"

"Very beautiful experience"

"I was overwhelmed by Mohammed's description of life in Eritrea and touched by the friendship and freedom he found here"

"Great food, great idea, super great people"

 

Dijwar entertains guests with Syrian music

Chefs serving up a delicious meal

Syrian singing

 

 

New friends getting to know each other

 

 

Dan opens the Baraka Café Peace Feast

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our series of Peace Feasts continued this month with a special event in the Arc Cafe, Redcliffe. 

A special thanks to Food without Borders for the delicious Sudanese meal, to Soufian Saihi for the music, to St Mary Redcliffe for hosting in the Arc Café, and to the volunteers who helped make it happen!!

Here's what a few of the people who came said about the event, and a few highlights:

"Unique, interesting, and very welcome in these troubled times."

"Really heartwarming event, good atmosphere."

"Another great event - such a simple idea but a real pleasure to meet and talk with others."

"It was a lovely inclusive event with friendly people and delicious food."

 

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St Anne's church hall was the venue for our first event in Brislington, and the community certainly provided a wonderful welcome and a great evening of conversation, music and food! 

We had the priviledge of eating from a menu prepared by former Masterchef contestant Zaleha Olpin, and the beautiful background music was provided by Dijwar Khalil. 

We would like to thank St Anne's for hosting, and everyone who came along for making it an evening to remember! 

Here's what a few people said about the event, and some photo highlights below.

"A lovely event, nice to see people talking together. Great food too!"

"It was such a great opportunity to meet people from different backgrounds."

"Beautiful idea - warm, convivial and truly amazing food."

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A really heartwarming evening at The Station in Bristol as 65 people from different communities and different backgrounds came together to share a delicious meal and took the time to talk together and listen to one another.

Here's what people who came said about it:

"It was an absolute pleasure to meet people from different faiths and backgrounds whom I never usually meet."

"Great food! Amazing conversations! Beautiful music. Such a brilliant sense of community."

"Thoroughly enjoyable... good food, good company: what more could a person want?"

"When you're intentional about talking then you get so much out of it - thank you for encouraging us to be!"

 

We'd like to say a special thank you to:

- Food Without Borders for a delicious Moroccan tagine

- Mohammed El Sharif for sharing his story and opening up great conversations

- Soufian Saihi, Oud soloist and founder of Karama, for providing beautiful background music

 

Here are a few highlights from the evening: 

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Highlights from the Peace Feast at Easton Academy last Friday. With special thanks to the school for hosting, to Dijwar Khalil for the beautiful music, to Moveable Feast for the meal we shared, to everyone for coming and making it so enjoyable... and to Samira Belhaj for the photos!

What participants said about the event:

"This was a lovely event with very warm welcome, great food and a good opportunity to meet people."

"A fantastic evening, it was lovely to hear people's stories. Amazing food."

"A good opportunity to get to talk with other people."

"Brilliant! Can't wait for the next one!"

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We had a wonderful evening at St Werberghs Community Centre, bringing together 45 people to share a delicious meal cooked by Karam Catering (a refugee catering startup). The evening also included live music from Musa and Bashar, and a short talk by the High Sheriff, Charles Wyld. 

What people said: 

"Who wouldn't enjoy a great meal and the chance to meet some extraordinary people!"

"Excellent event, fantastic food and wonderful people - really enjoyed the whole event."

"This is such a simple idea - I loved the opportunity to meet and share delicious food with new people." 

 

40 people who live or work in Easton came together at Easton Family Centre recently to share a meal, listen to one another's stories and experiences, and build new friendships. 

Food was provided by the amazing team at Moveable Feast (an social enterprise created by Bristol Hospitality Network). 

Here's what a few people said about the event:

"It was lovely to share good food with neighbours - I even met people who live on my street!"
 
"Brilliant opportunity to interact over a meal and get to know people of different cultures."
 
"I am impressed by the friendliness and love shown by all the people at this event."
 
"Delicious food - I liked hearing people speak about their lives."
 
 
 
 

On Friday night 55 people shared a delicious meal at St Werberghs Community Centre, at the latest 'Peace Feast' hosted by Bridges for Communities. 

The food was provided by Karam Catering, a refugee startup featuring the culinary skills of Syrian women who have recently arrived in Bristol through the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme. 

The evening also featured music on the saz by Dijwar Khalil, a short talk, and lots of fantastic conversations happening around the tables! 

What participants said about the evening:

'It was so great to meet and spend time getting to know and laughing with people who I may otherwise not come across.'

'It  was so wonderful to hear the music and watch people join in with singing around the room. Felt like a real moment of solidarity.'

'It was a really good event.. the food was amazing and it has been really nice to meet new people from different cultures.'

 

 

 

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