East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service is supporting Inter Faith Week, which begins on Sunday. (17-23 November 2013).
Organised by Inter Faith Week, it has three aims:
• Strengthening good inter faith relations at all levels
• Increasing awareness of the different and distinct faith communities in the UK, in particular celebrating and building on the contribution which their members make to their neighbourhoods and to wider society
• Increasing understanding between people of religious and non-religious beliefs
Assistant Chief Officer Cheryl Rolph from East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service says:
“We serve a wide range of communities. We need to be aware of how people from differing cultural backgrounds communicate with each other. Understanding and respecting cultural differences promotes clearer communication, breaks down barriers, builds trust and strengthens our relationship with our diverse communities. As part of Inter Faith Week, we are reminding our staff of some of the dos and don’ts of this.”
Dos and donts
Do check what individuals mean when they use the term 'cousin', 'uncle', 'aunt' etc. They may have a different meaning to what you are used to.
Do be careful when using jargon or slang when speaking to individuals from differing communities.
Do be careful how you use gestures or body language, it may be interpreted as offensive by some members of the community.
Do be aware of colloquialisms or terms of endearment, e.g. luv, dear, etc. What is innocent to you may be offensive to others.
Do seek advice, where possible, from colleagues with different cultural backgrounds, about how to communicate effectively.
Don't ask for a 'Christian' name. Ask for the 'first' and 'last name' instead. There are a multitude of differences between how different cultures address themselves. The only sure way of getting it right is to ask people how they would like to be addressed.
Don't assume lack of eye contact during conversation is a sign of dishonesty or disrespect, in some communities it means the opposite.
Don't make generalisations about groups or individuals.
Don't assume an individual’s language is the same as that of their country of origin.
Don't under estimate how your own cultural background may affect your perception and behaviour towards others.
You can also find out more about Inter Faith Week on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ifweek
And on Twitter: https://twitter.com/IFWeek