Sheffield charity wants more people to get involved with dialogue - everyone is welcome
A Sheffield charity which uses dialogue to build bridges with communities wants more people to join in with their mission for peace and integration.
The Dialogue Society is a registered charity, operating nationwide, that attempts to connect communities through discussion.
The regional branch in Sheffield, based at Birch Road in Attercliffe, serves communities throughout South Yorkshire and is open to anyone regardless of faith or religion. The aim is to build social cohesion in society and they believe ‘through true dialogue, we can end hate crime’.
Mehmet Acar, branch manager and one of the board members, said: “We accept and appreciate that we are a minority.
“Dialogue Society is about building bridges, both outside and within the community. We organise events in order to build bridges between various communities and people from various backgrounds. £”Everyone is welcome.”
Although mainly Turkish Muslims attend, people of Jewish and Methodist religions are also regular visitors. A team of seven board members oversee activities and events for Sheffield’s Dialogue Society.
The charity holds many different events, some of which are advertised to the public via Eventbrite.
An Iftar dinner - the meal eaten during Ramadan where Muslims can break their fast at sunset - was held at the community building earlier in the year, which attracted 140 attendees, including the Lord Mayor of Sheffield and local Sheffielders.
As well as dinner and breakfast celebrations, Dialogue Society also hosts seminars on different topics and key speakers may also give presentations - previous discussions have focused on contributions of Islam to society, and human rights.
Through these events, the charity is hoping to provide mixed integration to the community, while raising awareness about Turkish Muslim culture.
Established in London in 1999, Dialogue Society was founded by British Muslims of a Turkish background, who were inspired by the teachings of Muslim scholar and peace advocate, Fethullah Gülen. Dialogue Society stands for democracy, human rights, the non-instrumentalisation of religion in politics, equality and freedom of speech.
Board members of the Sheffield branch believe that raising awareness of Turkish Muslim culture has become more important following the worsening of Turkey’s democratic situation in recent years.
As the Turkish government’s attempt to oppress anyone in support of the Gülenist movement got more serious, they all left the country three years ago. All educational institutions were shut down and any individuals found to be involved with the Gulenist movement were put in jail.
The 20 families who attend events and activities at Dialogue Society have also left Turkey within the last two years. Their collective experiences of their time in Turkey suggest why human rights, peace and democracy form basic values within their own community.
They are ‘thankful’ to the locals for being friendly and open, so want to show that they can bring something back to society.
Mehmet said: “It is an opportunity to meet new people. To let people introduce themselves and vice versa. We want to try to maintain relationships with people - to keep in touch.
“We want to bring peace to the community and support integration.”
The charity has now developed good links with Sheffield Interfaith, Sheffield Amnesty International, South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue and Sheffield College.
They are keen for other organisations and individuals to get involved. Mental health, for example, is still a taboo subject for the Turkish Muslim community and board members would welcome a speaker on the subject. Different activities are held on Saturdays and there are also literacy and numeracy classes for children. Visit www.facebook.com/dialoguesocietysheffield