RSPCA chiefs were welcomed at a Jain Festival at one of the faith's largest UK temples yesterday (Monday 17 September 2012) as part of an ongoing project to engage with faith communities.
RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant and trustees Dr Richard Ryder and Barbara Gardner celebrated the Paryushan festival during a visit to the Oshwal Centre in Potters Bar in Hertfordshire. They took part in an hour-long ceremony of prayers with 300 members of the temple's community.
Mr Grant said: "Engaging with different faith groups is a growing part of the RSPCA's work to improve animal welfare and this visit was an eye-opening one.
"The whole world could learn something from this three thousand year old Jain philosophy of compassion for all living beings. This lies at the heart of the work of the RSPCA, and we were honoured to share this festival with them."
The RSPCA has begun to work with Diverse Ethics to understand how it can better support, advise and work with communities from across England and Wales and in turn how to encourage more members from faith communities to get actively involved in working for and supporting the RSPCA.
Dr Atul Shah from Diverse Ethics was asked by the RSPCA to review how the charity communicated its activities and how improvements can be made in relation to faith groups. He made his presentation to staff during the visit during which there was a chance to discuss the report's findings.
Dr Shah was delighted at the response to the visit: "Diverse Ethics has really enjoyed working with the unique and compassionate charity, RSPCA, whose staff and members have a deep respect for animals.
Through our contacts, we have been able to open doors for them into various communities, and in the process discovered how keen they are to engage with and learn from the vast cultural diversity of Britain."
The RSPCA now hopes to begin engaging with ethnic communities up and down the country. It has also started regular meetings with a number of key faith groups in order to improve and share understanding of animals and faiths.