On 29 April 2021, Forward Thinking held an online meeting to celebrate Ramadan. The meeting brought together those we are connected with in the UK and Gulf-MENA region to celebrate and discuss how we can ‘reimagine the role of community’. Meetings previously held by Forward Thinking have highlighted the role the local communities have played in helping to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. This meeting provided an opportunity to explore how local, community initiatives impact the global context and ways in which this work may be supported and enhanced moving forward.

Participants discussed how they have been celebrating Ramadan given COVID-19 as well as the impact coronavirus has had in their own respective contexts. Some reflected on whether the pandemic has had a positive effect in bringing people together and encouraging greater compassion and understanding. For example, this year marked the first instance of a UK Premier League club permitting a Muslim player to take a break mid-game to end their fast. However, the negative impacts of the virus, particularly on those who have lost loved ones and experienced financial and mental health consequences was also noted. The pandemic has also highlighted existing structural inequalities including racism that must be addressed.

Participants appreciated the chance to come together to celebrate and hear from each other’s experiences in working to create positive change within their own communities.