In 2019, supported by funding from the LSSI/ ESRC Impact Acceleration Account, Seán launched the first independent report – Mapping the UK’s Hajj Sector: Moving towards communication and consensus (2019) – on the UK Hajj Sector at British Parliament during a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Hajj and Umrah. In collaboration with The Council of British Hajjis (CBHUK), which serves as the Secretariat for the APPG, during March 2019 the project team convened three regional stakeholder consultation events with Muslim organisations, licensed Hajj organisers and UK governance authorities. The report also draws upon more than 30 hours of in-depth interviews conducted with key stakeholders, including UK tour operators and guides, pilgrim welfare organisations, government officials, trading standards officers, as well as the Civil Aviation Authority, since 2011. It is developed from Seán’s preliminary report – Organising Hajj-going in Britain – which was launched at the House of Lords during a 2013 post-Hajj event hosted by the Association of British Hujjaj (ABH).
The Report supports continuing moves towards self-governance through trade associations such as Licensed Hajj Organisers, and commends better communication among all key stakeholders sector-wide, with the most obvious mechanism for this being through the APPG on Hajj and Umrah. Seán argues that particular attention be paid to “more 360 degree views of the sector” across UK and Saudi contexts, with more transparency in terms of international information sharing, as well as joined-up thinking in terms of amplifying common messages across trade, charities and agencies. The hope is that this will also lead to a more “pilgrim-centred” approach to advice and raising awareness among consumers.