Humanism is a positive philosophy with much emphasis on actively taking part in society and culture in order to better the world for everyone. There are many ways in which humanists get involved in their local community and give their time voluntarily to charities and other good causes.
Working in the community
Many of our members are very active at a local level. There are many different roles which people play to support others in their community as well as participating in local democracy. For example:
Some humanists volunteer to visit, listen to, and talk with non-religious people in hospitals, prisons and universities alongside the Chaplaincy teams of those organisations. They offer support and a listening service to people who do not wish to go to religious individuals in times of need.
‘Inter Faith’ Work
‘Interfaith’ is an established term often used by religious people. Taken literally, it excludes people of no faith. But over half the people in Britain, including all humanists, do not identify with any ‘faith’. In practice, and for many years, humanists have worked alongside religious people both at a national level and in local ‘interfaith’ groups. In some cases these groups have changed their names or amended their terms of reference to reflect their inclusive approach. In general we prefer terms such as ‘religion and belief ’ or ‘dialogue’ – Humanists UK, for example, has a ‘Dialogue Officer’.
As humanists we believe in viewing other people firstly as fellow human beings, with religion or belief just one element of personal identity. Working together with people who are different can help build bridges and break down barriers between communities. But social cohesion and other community initiatives must build on the contribution that all individuals and groups in the community can make. Where there are legitimate reasons for working with communities identified by beliefs, then these must also be open to humanists and other non-religious people.
We therefore support humanists becoming involved in constructive dialogue and joint initiatives involving people from different religion and belief backgrounds. They can contribute to building a healthy secular society.
You can read more about our Dialogue work here.
Some of our members give up their free time to go into schools and sixth forms to give talks about Humanism. They run assemblies or give talks to classes to help young people understand the non-religious worldview on important issues ranging from life after death to the foundations of morality. They also speak about their personal views and why Humanism is important to them. For further information about how you can get involved, please click here.
Standing Advisory Councils on Religious Education (SACRE)
Members who are involved in Education sometimes represent Humanism on these local authority bodies. Find out more about humanist work on SACRES by emailing us.
Human groups are run by dedicated volunteers who sit on committees. They take on various roles within the group to keep it running smoothly and to support membership. Groups do various sorts of work in their local community including taking part in community events and organising discussions and trips. More information about local groups.
Local Development Volunteers
Local Development Volunteers are members of Humanists UK who have volunteered to work closely with their local authority. They work with the local structures dealing with diversity and equality and any projects dealing with social cohesion. In some cases it may not be appropriate to be a full member but being an advisor, contact point or observer could also be valuable. The work usually includes meetings within their locality, being a representative on committees and being a contact point for local consultations. Find out more about the Local Development Project.
Some humanists also contribute to society through their work as celebrants, helping the non-religious to mark important occasions in their lives in humanist ceremonies for baby namings, weddings, civil partnerships and funerals.