Warwickshire County Cricket Club has become one of the first sporting organisations in the country to launch a Multifaith Charter, created in conjunction with representatives from Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Jain, Judaism and Sikhism in the West Midlands.
Unveiled as part of Warwickshire’s Edgbaston for Everyone initiative, the Multifaith Charter is a tangible commitment to making sure that the Club understands the needs of different faiths and creates a safe, welcoming environment for players, staff and visitors, ensuring Edgbaston can be supportive in helping people practice their faith.
In addition to the formation of its own Multifaith Charter, Warwickshire will commit to Nujum Sport’s Muslim Athlete Charter. As part of this, the Club met with representatives of its local Muslim community and, following feedback, chose to formulate a Multifaith Charter that is inclusive to all, but still commit to everything recognised within the programme designed by Nujum Sport.
Ebadur Rahman, Founder and CEO of Nujum Sports, said: “Having signed the pledge to the Muslim Athlete Charter alongside its Multifaith Charter, Warwickshire CCC is joining a positive movement of solidarity, equality, and recognition of the contribution Muslims make in their respective clubs and teams. Nujum is here to support professional clubs and their players and to contribute positively to their equality and diversity agenda. We are delighted to work with the staff and team at Warwickshire CCC.”
To underpin the principles within the Charter, the Leadership Team at Warwickshire CCC has begun a series of faith visits to key religious centres within the West Midlands to understand more about each religion and the day-to-day implications of people wanting to practice their faith at Edgbaston.
Amrick Singh Ubhi, Director of Civic Engagement & Partnerships at Nishkam Civic Association, Chair of Council of Sikh Gurudwaras Birmingham, Vice Chair of Birmingham Faith Leader's Group and Chair of WMCA Faith Strategic Partnership Group, said: “This is a ground-breaking document that shows a true commitment to the faith communities of Birmingham and beyond that Edgbaston is for everyone. This pioneering charter can pave the way for other sports institutions and bodies to make also commit to embracing diversity and welcoming.”
Steve Bavington, Chaplaincy Plus, said: “Chaplaincy Plus is delighted to wholeheartedly support the Multifaith Charter. It is a real sign of Edgbaston’s commitment to true diversity and a desire to ensure every individual, regardless of creed, feels welcomed and accommodated within the stadium.”
Alongside the Multifaith charter, the Club has committed to tangible initiatives to drive inclusivity within cricket, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexuality, class, social mobility, neural or physical ability:
· The Family Stand at Edgbaston has become alcohol free to create an area where people from all backgrounds can enjoy cricket in an alcohol-free environment.
· Edgbaston is introducing a more diverse range of food and drink concessions, including halal, kosher, vegan and vegetarian food and a range of new mocktail, lassi and tea bars around the stadium.
· The introduction of an alcohol-free hospitality package, focusing more on premium soft drink options, mocktails and fruit platters.
· Prayer room facilities are being enhanced in the main stands of the stadium and within Edgbaston Cricket Centre.
· A sensory room and Changing Places disabled facilities will be in place at Edgbaston for the start of the cricket season.
· The ‘Speak Up’ Whistleblowing system is in place, making it easy for players past and present, Academy parents, staff and visitors to raise any issues that they have encountered. On the day of games, any form of discrimination can be reported via the app, for instant review and action from the Control Room, with stewards deployed anonymously to address and wear bodycams to record any offensive behaviour which will be passed to the Police.
· The Club is adopting the Real Living Wage to improve employment opportunities. As much recruitment as possible will take place from within a two-mile radius of the stadium.
· All County Age Group trials and summer training will continue to be free, and the Club commits to more open trials to encourage talent to step forward outside of the traditional club/school/commercial academy routes. Kit is already subsidised, but conversations are ongoing to provide further discount vouchers with bursaries in place to support children from lower income families, as well as travel plans to ensure children can get to games safely without relying on parental commitment and cost. There is a cost for winter training, but the Club is aiming to have a weekly payment plan in place for the Autumn which spreads the cost over an acceptable period of time for parents.
· The players are participating in sessions created by the PCA and the Club’s Sports Psychologist to set the boundaries within the dressing room, identify cultural education gaps and ensure that the environment is safe for all to speak out and be treated with respect.
· The Club will repeat last year’s successful Ramadan Cricket League for 16-to-18-year-olds breaking fast and Eid Prayer celebrations. Plans are also being explored to create a winter Mela event, bringing together different elements of South Asian culture, Diwali and Bonfire Night at Edgbaston amongst other celebrations.
Stuart Cain, Chief Executive of Warwickshire CCC, said: “Making sure that Edgbaston is a safe, welcoming environment for all and that players from all walks of life have the same chances to thrive and succeed has been our goal for several years, but recent events show that we haven’t gone far enough, fast enough. This must change and the initiatives launched today are the first small, granular steps in a journey that will probably never end.
“We will always need to keep learning, adapting and changing. We’ve tried to encapsulate this in our Edgbaston for Everyone framework, but it’s not about glossy brochures and lofty promises.
“It’s the small, weekly changes that we’re making that are important, and then ensuring that they’re sustained. Ultimately, we want people to look back over six months, a year, two years and see that real progress has been made.
“Whether that be in the development of local talent, opportunities for local people in the offices or the experience of those watching games. Regardless of gender, sexuality, religion, ethnicity, social background, education or neural or physical ability, we must do more to make cricket the most inclusive sport of all.”
Everyone for Edgbaston is built around six pillars:
· Data, Insight & Reporting - We will rigorously collect diversity data and feedback, using the insight gained to inform our thinking and actions. We will report this to the Board, our people and partners.
· Visibility & Awareness - We will educate and train our people through champions and role models within our Club and the community, constantly raising awareness of issues to ensure we are transparent and inclusive.
· Involve & Inspire - We will create forums for our people and stakeholders, giving them a voice and a key role in making a positive change. Our Inclusion Advisory Board will hold the Board and management accountable.
· Build for the future - We will provide employment opportunities for the community and developing young, local people to become successful role models and leaders.
· Celebrate & Engage - We will use our profile to promote positive change. We will make Edgbaston safe and welcoming for all, bringing people together to enjoy each other’s company and celebrate their cultures, heritage and differences.
· Governance & Policy - We will ensure we have the best governance structures in place to make Warwickshire CCC and Edgbaston Stadium a fair, safe, inclusive place to work, visit and play.
The following individuals have played a key role in helping shape the Multifaith Charter and offering support for staff faith-based support if needed:
· Amrick Singh Ubhi, Director of Civic Engagement & Partnerships at Nishkam Civic Association,
· Chair of Council of Sikh Gurudwaras Birmingham
· Vice Chair of Birmingham Faith Leader's Group
· Chair of WMCA Faith Strategic Partnership Group
· Steve Bavington, Chaplaincy Plus
· Kamran Shezad, Bahu Trust
· Mukesh Ladwa, President of Shree Hindu Community Centre
· John Beard, Birmingham Karma Ling
· Rabbi Yossi Jacobs, Chief Minister of Birmingham Hebrew Congregation
· Dr Peter Rooks, Birmingham Council of Faiths
· Arvinder Jain, President of International Mahavir Jain Mission
· Canon Dr Andrew Smith, Director of Interfaith Relations
· Bishop of Birmingham (CofE)