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Dear Mr. Tai

I apologise for not writing last week when I received a copy of your Email, My delay in responding is in no way a reflection of my opinion of the course I attended. The lead up to this festive season heightens activity in most areas of work but possibly more so in hospital teams because of the pressure to move people on.

It may be helpful to start by saying that I am a member of a worshipping Christian community whose minister is active in the Inter-Faith movement in Edinburgh. He also has links with Muslim leaders within and out with the U.K. because of his previous post in Bethlehem.

My church centre has always been open to visitors and users of the building who have different or no faith backgrounds.

I say this to explain that I possibly accepted without question – although much appreciated- the welcome afforded by leaders and users of the Mosque in Edinburgh.

On a practical level, the facilities were good in terms of size, acoustics and comfort (although there were a lot of steps for the more infirm among us!). The lunch provided was excellent in quality and very generous in quantity.

With regard to our time spent within the sanctuary during prayer time, I do not know how easy users felt about so many observers. However I imagine, and hope, that it was accepted in much the same way as those who worship in centres which attract visitors because of their historical/architectural interest rather than spiritual affinity!

Having said this, opening up worship to those not of your faith, helps to develop a better understanding of your faith and its centrality to daily life. It demystifies some practices and erodes pre-conceived ideas. It also highlights the similarities in faiths and engenders a respect for the differences.

With regard to the course itself, as I noted in my response sheet completed at the end of the day, I found it very useful in developing an understanding of Islam, the practices and their centrality  to the life (and structure of the day) of Muslims. I can accommodate this in to the area of assessment and service development for which I have responsibility.

E.g.         Avoiding prayer times when offering appointments.
              Acknowledging gender issues in the working relationship.

Ensuring that Care Home provision incorporates acceptable accommodation for Islamic practices as well as staff sensitivity to the facets of this, not in the least the Wadhu. Etc, etc.

The information pack gave clear guidance for the day itself and is very useable by those who have little or no knowledge or understanding of Islam. I know from my own workplace that there is a lot of interest in attending future such courses.

The most useful (work related) area for future study would be on cultural awareness for the assessment and service delivery process within the Council.

Many thanks for developing this course

Yours sincerely

Sheila Wood
Senior Social Worker