Category: testimonial, Housing, Belief, Staff Testimonial, Supported Housing, PA Housing, House-building, cultural belief, social housing, atheists, atheism
Here at PA Housing, we pride ourselves on the diversity of our staff team and a key aspect of this is diversity of belief because it allows us to gain insights from a broad range of different cultures and traditions. We also pride ourselves in recognising that Everybody is unique and that everyone can be themselves at PA. In order to find out more, I conducted a couple of interviews to discuss the personal faith of our colleagues and what this means to them. Through these interviews, I hoped to better understand some of the individuals within our wonderful, multicultural working environment.
However, I was curious as to how I would answer my own questions if put on the spot, so that is exactly what I did. Of course, my beliefs are not representative of everybody in the company. Nonetheless, as the aim of this series is to explore our diversity (and I have a different perspective to those I have interviewed before), I thought it would be worthwhile to express my own voice which is such an encouraging opportunity to have as an employee of any business.
Do you belong to a specific belief system and if so, what is it?
“I do not, no. In fact, this may seem strange for an article in faith and religion month, but I would describe myself as having no religion – or spiritual inclination – at all. I believe that this is a valid position to take in an article such as this because atheists make up a considerable proportion of the UK population so I don’t think that our voices should be excluded from conversations about belief.”
Care to elaborate on how you reached that decision?
“Well, neither of my parents are religious and so from the offset, religion was never really a big part of my life. As a result, I grew up feeling complete without it, instilled with humanistic values of equality, inclusivity, empathy, fairness, and love for my fellow living creatures by my family. As my dad is from a Roman Catholic background, he was christened and went to church when he was a kid, but from quite a young age, he started to question how all the ceremony and ritual was relevant to his day-to-day life. That set him on a path where he read up on everything from religion to science to philosophy to the occult even and concluded that he didn’t believe.
“That’s not to say I haven’t done my own research too and figured some things out for myself. I’m quite sure in my beliefs, based on a scientific history of the world that, in my view, isn’t compatible with the mainstream creation stories. Also, I struggle with the fact that we live in a very chaotic world with far too much suffering in it for my liking. I wouldn’t want to encroach, but if I were a benevolent, all-powerful, all-loving God, I’d make the world a fairer, more loving, compassionate place that is more accepting of difference, as opposed to our current divided, obscenely unequal, climate change and Covid ravaged state.”
What does the word “faith” mean to you?
“Faith has quite a few meanings… if you’re going by Google dictionary… which I definitely am doing… because I’m feeling especially ‘logical’ like Mr. Spock today. I’d say that the main connotation that comes to mind for me is ‘the strong belief in God or a religious doctrine’ that is ‘based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof’. And already, in that definition, I see an issue there because it isn’t based on any empirical evidence. I haven’t read or seen anything in my experience on Earth so far to convince me that, for example, a talking snake, an angel, or a wooden boat that could contain and sustain 2 of every animal (except the fish) for over a year could really exist.
“For instance, we don’t know who wrote the old poem Beowulf, but because it contains monsters and dragons that have no basis in reality, we assume it is fiction and I’m 99.999% sure that we’re right to assume that. Also, if we are supposed to interpret some of these stories as merely metaphors, then which ones? How can we mere mortals presume to decide which parts God really meant and which parts are just speculation? I think it’s safer to assume that it is all speculation.
“However, there are other definitions of faith that are applicable to everyone. A good synonym to use would be ‘confidence’. A confidence that humanity can keep making social progress, a confidence in one’s own abilities to get through life, a confidence that the people around you – your friends and family – can support you.”
How does your faith – or lack thereof – factor into your daily life? At home and in your work life?
“If anything I’ve said so far sounds depressing or it’s like I’m sucking the fun and ‘magic’ out of everything, trust me, it isn’t like that. My beliefs are always in the back of my mind. Sure, I live with the knowledge that when we (humans and animals) die, we’re gone forever; that we may be alone in the infinite void of space; and that human self-awareness is probably just a genetic mutation that helped us survive when we were wild creatures. But why does that have to be depressing?
“In fact, I think it’s the opposite. The odds of us existing at all are so slim and it is all so precarious that we may as well make the most of it while we’re here. It motivates me to do my best to make my own life and the lives of my fellow creatures as joyful and just as they can be because there is no afterlife and no other planet that we can all escape to. This is it. So, if there is anything I can do to help living creatures in need, I will go out of my way – perhaps even to my own detriment – because I’m aware of how fleeting life is which makes every second meaningful and significant for each individual. Therefore, I’m always friendly and polite to everyone I meet, I’m engaged with political and social causes that make life better for the disadvantaged, and I don’t eat animals because they suffer like we do and animal agriculture is harmful to the only planet that we have. It’s all connected, trust me!
“As a social media assistant and brand content creator, I don’t work with customers on a day-to-day basis like some employees at PA Housing do. However, the work I do helps to promote equality, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace through recruitment campaigns and publishing interviews with staff like this one. My values are all about tolerance and respect for difference so I’m happy to come into work each morning as I get to meet interesting people with unique perspectives, and I can help to make social progress by sharing their stories.”
What is your favourite religious festival and why?
“Believe it or not, I do like me a good festival. I probably wouldn’t say that I have a favourite, but I think Christmas is almost unavoidable in this country. There are adverts for it in September! However, I have always celebrated Christmas, just without the Christ bit really. Celebrations on 25 December predate Christianity anyway because Pagans used to celebrate the solstice and the return of the sun by putting up holly and trees, singing, and giving gifts. So, technically, we have quite a traditional ‘Christmas’. The commercial aspect of it can be grating sometimes, but I don’t think there’s any harm in enjoying ourselves. Aside from that, I quite like going to Halloween parties because of the novelty and Diwali is a really great one in Leicester too as we have the biggest celebration of it outside India. The lights look really cool and Indian food is my absolute favourite, so all the events and stalls they have in town make me very happy indeed.”
Are there any parallels between your values and the values of PA Housing?
“Definitely. Before my interview, I did a bit of research around PA Housing and one of the first things I saw was that they always try to do the right thing and treat others how they would like to be treated. The latter one there – which I know is a core principle in many faiths – is the foundation of my empathy and morality. It’s something I already prided myself in doing before I applied so it boosted my confidence during the application process, knowing that the company shared my values. Since I started here, I have felt like I fit in here because everybody is so kind, welcoming, and tolerant. Also, the fact that PA Housing provides a place to live for people who need it makes me proud to work here too because having somewhere to stay is one of the most important needs in life and a dedication to improving quality of life for all is one of my core principles.”
So, do you think that PA Housing is an inclusive organisation to work for?
“Again, I can confidently say that it is. I find it amazing that it gives the opportunity to express our voices in this way. We are such a diverse team, but there is a feeling of camaraderie and mutual support here. My experience going between the HR and Communications teams has made me feel like I am part of one big PA Housing family… and I’ve only been here for a month!”
And that about wraps up my interview of myself. It was certainly a new experience, but I guess that’s just another day at PA Housing. We’re not afraid to be bold and innovative. If you would like to work alongside us, check out our job vacancies section here: PA Housing - VERCIDA.
Stick around on our Vercida page as we will be posting more stories of faith and diversity throughout the month.
By Marco Cardoni