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I had been thinking for some time about the direction of my career, I began to research into projects in my hometown of Derby that had a focus on work that sought to engage the community in inter-faith initiatives - teaching, community development and cross cultural/religious dialogue.

Alongside music, religion has been a main interest of mine for a long while and I considered that I would greatly benefit from becoming involved in some way within this kind of vocation.

After researching into related initiatives, I came across Derby Multi-Faith Centre (MFC) and arranged a meeting with Ruth (the centres director) to talk about my possibly volunteering there. At the meeting I felt immediately welcomed and despite being very busy, Ruth took the time to discuss the centres role, work and organisation and ways they could support me in my ambitions to become involved – I did not feel rushed or insignificant in any way.

Since becoming a volunteer I have gained a great insight into the kinds of projects MFC engages with and facilitates. I have attended informative lectures on religious themes, team meetings where I have learned more about the organisation and implementation of MFC's work, I have met most of the chaplains and faith representatives where I have learnt in quite some depth invaluable insights into the different religions. I have also been to a Buddhist retreat to a well attended inter-faith event and have gained a more comprehensive understanding of the different faith communities in Derby which, for me, is so very beneficial and inspiring. The team at MFC have been easy to get along with and have encouraged me in my assisting them. I have designed posters for events, created presentation boards, helped out in their café on arboretum park, produced a video for a funding bid, helped in the setting up of various events hosted by MFC and have contributed to research projects. There really has been a wide variety of things to do and learn there and this has truly broadened my knowledge of and appreciation for interfaith work and religion in general.

I have also been given the opportunity to go to Israel to visit the holy lands on a guided, week long tour. No doubt there will be plenty more (and varied) opportunities arising during my time with mfc.

MFC inspired me to apply to University to study religion and provided me with a fantastic reference which, in no small part, resulted in my being offered a place at Lancaster University – a top five University for religious studies. This has been amazing news for me as it means I can confidently pursue my ambitions to make a career in this kind of work. I start University next year. I will continue to volunteer with MFC until then and have been kindly offered access to a very thorough library crammed full of books on religion and theology so that I can prepare for my degree and increase my chances of getting good marks. What more could I possibly ask for!?

Thank you ever so much to all at MFC for your encouragement and support for me and moreover for the wonderful and vital work you do in my beloved home of Derby".

Richard Thompson

If you would like to find out more about volunteering at the Multi-Faith Centre, contact us on [email protected].

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