Deputy PCC for Surrey fasts voluntarily for Ramadan to create community cohesion

Deputy PCC for Surrey fasts voluntarily for Ramadan to create community cohesion
Ellie Vesey-Thompson, the deputy police and crime commissioner for Surrey, has been fasting voluntarily throughout the month of Ramadan (Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey/PA)

The deputy police and crime commissioner (PCC) for Surrey Police has been fasting voluntarily throughout the month of Ramadan with the aim of creating cohesion in the community.

Ellie Vesey-Thompson, 29, said she undertook the challenge following a Surrey Police initiative called the Fasting Collective, where officers and staff who are not of the faith are encouraged to fast for one day during Ramadan.

After taking part in the initiative, Ms Vesey-Thompson said she wanted to fast for the month of Ramadan – which began on March 10 this year and ends on Tuesday – to understand the challenges the period may bring to those who fast while trying to complete day-to-day activities.

“For me, understanding different people’s faiths is really important and I think we would have a kinder world if we were more accepting of each other,” Ms Vesey-Thompson, who described herself as Christian, told the PA news agency.

Ellie Vesey-Thompson sitting at a tableEllie Vesey-Thompson said the experience of fasting during Ramadan has been one of ‘peace’ and ‘gratitude’ (Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey/PA)

Ms Vesey-Thompson said her experience had led her to believe that British society is “untargeted to facilitating” those fasting for Ramadan.

She added: “So much of my day-to-day living I’ve had to adapt to do Ramadan, it’s not that the country is making that an easy thing to do.

“What I’ve noticed is how difficult it is for people to carry on with their normal jobs and to keep the focus and to do everything that’s demanded of them.

“Particularly when thinking about our police officers who are out and about, they’re quite active, it can be really challenging.”

A plate of dates and samosasEllie Vesey-Thompson’s iftar (fast-breaking) meal with dates and homemade samosas (Ellie Vesey-Thompson/PA)

Ms Vesey-Thompson said that members of the Muslim community thought she was “absolutely mad” for fasting voluntarily because “they know how hard it is”.

“I think it’s helped the community realise that I’m doing it because I’m intrigued to see how things are for them and the challenges that come up for them during the month,” she said.

She added that she hopes her challenge and the initiatives held by Surrey Police during Ramadan will encourage Muslims to join the force and to help the community have faith in them.

“I think it’s helped us show the community that we’re there for them, so where things like hate crime do occur, they report it,” she said.

“Sometimes that’s the challenge, if they don’t have faith, confidence or even friendship within the police, are those crimes going unreported?

Ellie Vesey-Thompson standing in front of a football pitchEllie Vesey-Thompson hopes the challenge will show the Muslim community that ‘we’re there for them’ (Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey/PA)

“We’re also showing them that policing is for them if that’s something they want to achieve or do.”

Ms Vesey-Thompson said that if she could summarise her experience into two words it would be “peace” and “gratitude”.

“There’s something really peaceful about getting up early in the morning and being the only person around and having some food, having time to myself,” she said.

“But the gratitude just for having food has really come through for me, particularly when we think about the rising conflict around the world and people who are fasting in warzones or people who are living in famine and don’t have reliable access to food.

“It’s made me realise how much we take for granted being able to open the fridge when we want something to eat and how others don’t have that privilege.”

The Conversation (0)