Colt’s Allyship in action – fasting for Ramadan

Through Colt’s Allies in Action series, Colties who have taken our allyship pledge share their experiences. In this first story, Mark Beckett recounts his encounter fasting for Ramadan alongside a Muslim colleague.

They say you can’t truly understand someone else’s experience until you have walked a mile in their shoes. As part of my Allyship in Action pledge I had wanted to learn more about others’ experiences. When the opportunity came up to fast for a day with a Muslim colleague during Ramadan, I knew I should take it.

Unsurprisingly for a descendant of Irish immigrants in Liverpool, I went to a Catholic comprehensive school. I occasionally gave up sweets and chocolate for Lent as a child.

As an adult, I compared my mediocre childhood efforts of personal sacrifice with the discipline of Liverpool Football Club players like Mo Salah and Sadio Mane. They played for my home team even while they were fasting for Ramadan. I never really appreciated what fasting involved, but thought it couldn’t have been easy for professional athletes.

Joining my Muslim colleagues to fast was far more educational than I thought it was going to be. I gained a whole new level of understanding and appreciation of what it must be like to share work spaces with colleagues who are not fasting while you are. It made me think of how much more respectful and supportive I could be to those who fast.

I thought hunger was going to be the hardest part, but the thirst was far more challenging. I never realised just how much coffee I consume during working hours! I had not fully appreciated the impact of sleep interruption, particularly when fasting begins at astronomical twilight which is earlier than sunrise. The discipline focused my mind.

I loved the sense of community that we all felt coming together to break the fast (iftar), starting with a stuffed date and some water before moving onto more substantial South Asian food after a traditional prayer. It was refreshingly nice to socialise as a work team in an environment which was not a pub for a change.

Fasting broadened my cultural horizons, strengthened our work team, and kick started deep conversations we may never have had. There were many tangential benefits, including the sense of solidarity felt with others, and the personal health impact. Above all, I know that my Muslim colleagues felt included and respected by our participation.

Liverpool Football Club’s motto is based on a song by Gerry and the Pacemakers: You’ll Never Walk Alone. I am proud that I walked alongside colleagues who don’t belong to the same social identity groups as me. I walked in their shoes. The slogan is not just about teamwork. It is also about allyship.

Mark Beckett, Programme Lead – Integration Management Office

Original blog shared here.