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Humanists UK’s apostate support programme wins London community award

Faith to Faithless co-founders Aliyah Saleem and Imtiaz Shams

A Humanists UK programme supporting ‘apostates’ — people who have left high-controlled religions — has won a London community award for its work providing support services to vulnerable Londoners.

Faith to Faithless, a programme within Humanists UK, was last night named a winner of the London Faith & Belief Community Awards 2018 within the Health & Wellbeing category for its work helping apostates to leave high-control religious community groups in the UK.

Apostasy has made headlines recently after an interview where popstar Zayn Malik said that he no longer identified as a Muslim.

While there are no official records of the number of apostates in the UK, Humanists UK estimates more than 15,000 people in the UK, including around 5,000 in London, need support after leaving their religion each year.

Humanists UK trustee and chair of Faith to Faithless, Imtiaz Shams

Apostates may face exclusion, shaming, and isolation from their community, with many risking homelessness, violence, and discrimination. Faith to Faithless is built around what apostates themselves see as priorities: to train service providers to better support apostates and help apostates find a voice within a supportive community which helps them.

The programme has been running for more than three years and is now a sustained movement supporting thousands of apostates each year, ‘coming out’ panels, peer-to-peer support groups, and direct intervention for apostate asylum seeker cases.

Through Faith to Faithless, service providers including the Metropolitan Police, Ministry of Defence, teachers, NHS staff, and other charities like Childline, which is soon to be trained, have been trained to identify apostates and link them to community support.

Imtiaz Shams, Chair of Faith to Faithless, said:

‘For many years, apostates have been a hidden minority, and public service providers have had little understanding of the issues they face. We’ve been supporting apostates to have their voices heard and help service providers better support them. We’re honoured that the London Faith & Belief Community Awards have recognised how important the work to support apostates is, and we want service providers and supporters who care about this issue to get in touch with us.’

The London Faith & Belief Community Awards 2018 is run by the Faith & Belief Forum, helping identify those organisations doing exceptional work in making London a welcoming place for people of all religions and beliefs.

Notes

For further information on Faith to Faithless, contact Imtiaz Shams on 020 7324 3060 or imtiaz@faithtofaithless.com or Humanists UK Press Manager Casey-Ann Seaniger at casey@humanism.org.uk or phone 020 7324 3078 or 07 393344293.

For more information on Faith to Faithless, visit https://www.faithtofaithless.com/

At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.

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