Jane Jeffes is a producer and director and former head of ABC Religion & Ethics. A UK-Australian dual national she is based in Sydney, Australia.
The year 2020 has seen dramatic changes in how we operate our lives, from business to social settings. As an organisation that takes pride in servicing people living with a disability within our community, we advocate for inclusivity of all people and their diverse experiences and stories. As part of the 2020 COVID-19 regulations, we had experienced the social restrictions that are and have always been foreign to human celebratory occasions, which would normally see groups of people enjoying each other’s company, celebrating many reasons: from birthdays
to religious events. Our organisation and the people we support are a mix of Muslim and non-Muslim and so we are very conscious of how this year has been unlike any other for Muslim communities observing Ramadan, with COVID-19 restrictions prohibiting families from engaging in congregational prayer, night markets, and Eid festivals. During the 30 nights of Ramadan, there has also been no opportunity to extend Iftar invitations. TLC had planned to invite all of the people we support, Muslim and non-Muslim to share Iftar together at the conclusion of Ramadan as a way to celebrate the rich diversity of our community but of course that’s not possible – a first in history.
TLC’s vision is to grow and nurture people with disability and to support community engagement and learning opportunities. Aligned with these values, and with COVID-19 restrictions, we partnered with Recipes for Ramadan and offered an opportunity for four of the people we support (Muslim and non-Muslim) and four of our management team to come together to cook a traditional dish to celebrate Iftar together. These shared experiences strengthened not only our relationships with the people we support, but provided opportunities to share recipes, stories and histories as part of the Recipes for Ramadan program. Once the team had made their meals at The Culinary School, we took to our TLC headquarters for something really special. We saw an opportunity to provide a virtual Iftar experience, where the group of our participants and managers enjoyed a virtual Iftar occasion with another Islamic family via a Zoom video call. We also had former Soccer Player and personality Craig Foster join us as a guest, on the zoom call as well which the participants enjoyed so much. It was an enriching feeling to provide such a personalised and innovative approach to keep the passion alive for this special occasion and we received so much great feedback. As part of the encouragement of our work, we filmed the entire day, from cooking to Iftar celebrations and edited it nicely into a video that we shared across our social media and network.