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02 Jun 2021

“I was really blown away by the kindness and selflessness of the Muslim community”: Sam Payne

Sam Payne (Sport Birmingham & Actives Communities programme) and Chief Inspector Neil Kirkpatrick (West Midlands Police) were invited by Kamran Shezad, Bahu Trust to fast for one day of Ramadan. This was a great opportunity for both Sam and Neil to gain an insight of the what the Muslim community go through and show solidarity to the citizens in Birmingham.

They broke the fast at the Bahu Trust Mosque, where he met some of the young volunteers including Daanyaal Iqbal and Husam Mehmood who do some brilliant work inspiring children to be active and healthy in Sparkbrook and Balsall Heath.

Sam reflects on his day of fast, and this is his reflections from the day:

How does your normal day differ to the day of fast?

“I found the fast interesting as it was completely different to my usual routine. Food, of any kind, is usually high on my priority list after I hit the snooze button on my alarm, so adjusting my mindset to the fast took an hour or two on the day. After the adjustment period though, I found the fast to be a positive experience. Purely from a personal standpoint, the fast showed be that my body is not as dependant on constant food intake as I thought and gave me the confidence to break long term ‘bad’ habits that had built up over the years. For example, during the working day, I frequently caught my self-heading to the cupboard for a biscuit after zoom/teams calls; a subconscious pattern that I now think twice about.”

What was your learnings from the Muslim community?

“I learnt a lot from the people I spoke to at the Bahu Trust Masjid. I was blown away by the selflessness of the community, who would always ask me about my experiences on the fast before talking about their own.

I was also impressed by the attention to detail that was applied to the food choices at the Iftar meal. As is tradition and in keeping with the religious teachings of Prophet Mohammad, we broke our fast with a date, but after that we continued to eat a plethora of vibrant and nutritious foods. I distinctly remember the melons tasting extra sweet; something that I’m still not sure whether was a result of my adjusted tastebuds over the fast, or simply a exceptional fruit shop in Balsall Heath!

Outside of the food, conversation at the Iftar meal was enlightening as I had the chance to speak to a small number of the fantastic young people who were all working hard to combat the rising health inequalities that are sadly prevalent in the areas. People were passionate and immensely knowledgeable about the role that physical activity can (and will) play in supporting families as we (hopefully) emerge from the global pandemic.”

Ways to get involved in the project?

“We will be continuing to work with the Bahu trust, schools, the VRU, and many other organisations in Balsall Heath to listen and understand how we can use a whole system’s approach to build on the great work already being done and improve health and wellbeing. I would encourage all organisations working within the area to get in touch with me to discuss how Sport Birmingham can help you set up or grow a provision that supports health development for any audiences you work with in the area.”

Click here to watch Sam’s reflections