Faith & Belief Champion

  • Open hands facing upwards. Hope. Faith. Belief.

Simon Parkes

Chief Operating Officer

"I grew up in a Church of England household and attended a school with a strong Church of England tradition.  I am now a lay canon of Lincoln Cathedral, where I chair its Finance Committee and attend Chapter.

My ambition is to promote an understanding of faith and belief and the way in which it shapes our culture and our communities"

"Any senior team is going to struggle to be as diverse as the population it serves.  It is essential its decisions are informed by an understanding of how those decisions affect different groups within our community.  SLT champions are one of the ways we can bring that lived experience to the table.

The nature of faith and belief within our society has been changing, perhaps faster than any other aspect of our culture.  The established church, which was the centre of our communities for so long, has seen attendances decline sharply.  New churches, often shaped by the enthusiasm of diverse communities, are growing at an even faster rate.  We have also seen people misunderstand and misinterpret the Islamic faith and a worrying rise in Islamophobia alongside a much-reported rise in Anti-Semitism. Faith and belief are being challenged in a way we haven’t seen (in this country) since the reformation and yet our culture, customs and practices, even our holidays, are still often centred on our respective religious traditions. 

Without thinking about it, faith and belief underpins so much of what it is to be human – even if we are atheists our lives are still hugely influenced by cultures centred on faith and belief.  But these challenges also represent a tremendous opportunity – an opportunity to understand each other better, to learn not just to tolerate, but to appreciate the faith, belief and cultures of others.  A university should be a place where we learn to understand each other better and a global university, with its diverse student (and staff) body has a particular responsibility to facilitate that understanding".