Heather al-Yousuf - works with inter faith couples and families, particularly Muslim-Christian through the Inter-faith Marriage Network. Heather is an Anglican married to a Shi'a Muslim from Bahrain. She is a mother of three and is currently training in family therapy.

Akeela Ahmed has over 10 years experience providing support to vulnerable individuals with complex social and mental health difficulties, specialising in high intensity support services to young people and homeless people from diverse backgrounds, including refugees, asylum seekers, ex-offenders and BAME groups.

She was Chief Executive of the Muslim Youth Helpline for three years, and has advised the NSPCC, Demos’s Faith Inquiry, Mosaic’s Ex-Offender Programme, Eastenders' production team, Home Office, Department of Communities & Local Government and the Foreign Office, as well as the governments of the US and Singapore.

Currently, she sits on a national level government working group on anti-Muslim hatred, based at the Department for Communities and Local Government, is the Muslim Family Specialist with the Christian Muslim Forum, and is an Ambassador for the Full Picture - a women's empowerment news club. On maternity leave at the moment, Akeela is director of her family’s property development company. She also holds an MSc in Mental Health Studies, from the Institute of Psychiatry. A regular contributor to the media, both at a national and international level, Akeela has appeared on BBC radio 4, London Tonight, the Guardian and ethnic media.  

Forum's Statement on Family Issues


The members of the Family Specialist Group have established a mutual commitment to enabling, supporting and empowering families; celebrating what is good and facing up to the very real challenges that families face.

We are committed to

  • recognising the wide range of contexts and beliefs within and between our faith communities.
  • grass-roots based methods of working in which we take people's experiences seriously.
  • offering creative insights, resources and opportunities that help people to feel positive about thir humanity and relationships. We will resist adding to burdens of guilt or fear that families might face.
  • helping people reconnect their hopes, aspirations and ethical decisions with the spiritual core that is so often obscured by the demands and attractions of modern life.
  • helping people feel confident about family life, parenting and relationships, countering any sense of the family as beleaguered or unhealthy.

Family Life

Part of our common humanity is our growing up within the context of family life. For some this is joyful, simple and positive; for others painful, complicated and difficult. Both of our faith communities carry ideals of family life and offer scriptural and spiritual support for the family unit and the place of family in the wider social context. Whilst we aspire to these ideals and wish to be helpful to each other as Gods children, we know that families face challenges within themselves and within our complex society.

From before birth to beyond death, both faiths offer models and views of family life. Parenting of children brings challenges, not least as they grow into adolescents. People exist in complex webs of relationship and sometimes people need support, advice and training. Health issues, physical and mental, impact on our families and the changing patterns of society raise issues about the role of fathers, interfaith marriage and sexual health. The challenges of depression and bereavement need careful attention and counselling with a faith based perspective is an area that we might explore.

The Family Specialist Group recognise these challenges and want to be a means of

  • raising and researching key issues of concern to Muslim and Christian families,
  • developing networks of suitable practitioners
  • creating opportunities for people to discuss family issues 
  • creating links with grassroots activities and organisations

Our targets for 2006 - 2008 are:

  • awareness raising for statutory organisations
  • capacity building of support, activities, for both communities
  • carrying out and publishing Government policy reviews
  • holding training workshops
  • running seminars for discussion of issues
  • holding a conference in 2007

Humera Khan and Michaela Youngson, Summer 2006

Former Specialists

Ms Humera Khan - one of the founders of the An-Nisa Society, an organisation supporting families run by Muslim women. She has worked in equalities and on Government working groups including the Forced Marriage working party and the Community Cohesion Review Team. She is currently involved in Muslim-Jewish dialogue and work on Muslim fatherhood.

Karlene Rickard - Director of Parenting Media Education Consultancy. You can read more about her here.

Revd Michaela Youngson (Methodist Central Office) - Methodist Minister and author, former Connexional Secretary for Pastoral Care and Spirituality including the promotion of good practice in pastoral care and the advocacy of theologically informed perspectives on personal relationships. Previously served churches in East Lancashire.

Living Faithful Family Lives

You can read about our first Family conference here.

Please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you are interested in our family work or if you would like to make a donation.

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