Mevlana Rumi Mosque and Community Centre organised a ‘Friendship Dinner’ with help from a team of Dialogue Studies MA students currently on a work placement at the Dialogue Society for 10 weeks. In line with International Women’s Day 2016: Pledge for Parity, the theme for the evening was ‘Is Religion Undermining Women?, to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and to highlight the necessity for action on gender parity.
The purpose of friendship dinners is to bring people together and promote interaction and friendship between different groups within the local community. Sharing food is a wonderful way to promote interaction and friendship between people regardless of faith, culture, occupation or political outlook. The dinner is designed to stimulate and motivate individuals and community groups to engage in dialogue through an event combining a friendly shared meal with an element of constructive community discussion.
Friendship dinners also promote discussion of important social issues, encouraging people to reflect on these together, exchange ideas and begin to think about constructive solutions to shared difficulties. Such dialogue can itself be of a valuable form of meaningful interaction between diverse participants. The relaxed, friendly atmosphere promoted by the sharing of food can encourage openness and trust, as well as potentially inspiring new local policy ideas or community action.