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The thoughts and views of the team of peace builders here at the Peace Centre

On Burnley Road – good relations and community dialogue

The Peace Foundation works to promote mediated dialogue to resolve conflict.  In his forthcoming book, On Burnley Road, Mike Waite, who works with the Peace...

The Peace Foundation works to promote mediated dialogue to resolve conflict.  In his forthcoming book, On Burnley Road, Mike Waite, who works with the Peace Foundation, looks at what happened in northern industrial towns in 2001, and how that learning is applied in Peace Foundation programmes to this day.   A crucial tradition  Blog by Mike Waite, Peace Foundation (in personal capacity) Twenty years ago, I was doing a straightforward job in a straightforward local council – helping run community centres and youth projects in Burnley. Then, in quick succession, unexpected and controversial events: racialised riots in summer 2001 (along with similar disturbances in Oldham and Bradford) and then the election of far-right councillors from the British National Party. In 2003, the BNP gained more seats and became the second-biggest political group in Burnley Town Hall. There was a serious surge in racist crimes, and multiple signs of increasing social polarisation. By this point, I had become the council’s ‘community cohesion’ manager. We needed help to respond effectively, and one of the most useful initiatives we developed was a ‘good relations programme’ led by ‘civic mediators’ from Northern Ireland who had played a part in the Peace Process. As part of this programme, myself and a few other council workers – along with people from voluntary sector organisations – were trained to run ‘community dialogue’ events. We made several visits to Belfast to find out about what was happening there, and to take part in training sessions. On a couple of these visits, a colleague came along from the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Peace Foundation, and our work in Burnley benefited from the approaches used by the Warrington-based charity. When I left Burnley Council a couple of years ago, I began writing up the ‘inside story’ of the work I had helped with in the years after the riots. On Burnley Road is out next month, and combines ‘memoir’ writing about what happened when the BNP gained seats in Burnley with discussion of social policy areas such as multiculturalism, and my personal left-of-centre political opinions on issues from Brexit to populism. I was also lucky enough to begin working at the Peace Foundation, where I’ve been able to apply and develop some of the things I learned in Belfast. The charity founded in memory of Tim and Johnathan has sustained for far longer than the Burnley good relations programme did. One of its strengths is the fact that it is not politically aligned, and can therefore combine and make use of the diverse views and values of different board members and workers, united in a shared commitment to work for peace. As Colin and Wendy Parry know all too well, it is not always easy to keep the work going: changing priorities by funders; short-term programmes and grants; the ‘famine or feast’ contract rhythms which can mean that jobs have to be put at risk one year, and there are staffing shortages the next. Partly because of uneven levels of...

Dealing with the Past | Facing up to the Future

Over two decades the Peace Foundation has worked to support victims of terrorism.  It started back in 1993 when, without warning, two bombs exploded in...

Over two decades the Peace Foundation has worked to support victims of terrorism.  It started back in 1993 when, without warning, two bombs exploded in a northern England shopping street.  The parents of one of the victims wanted answers.  Why had their 12-year-old son, out innocently shopping for replica football shorts, become the target of terrorists? Their journey took them to meet those who supported and perpetrated violence, it also brought them into contact with many others who had been affected in similar ways as victims and survivors. The way each victim, survivor acted and how people were affected differed vastly and constantly changed.  Some sought truth and justice, others reparation, some even offered forgiveness. This conflict revolved around Northern Ireland - the north of Ireland; terminology that in of itself starts to describe the opposing views that led to such violence. In that jurisdiction, as it moved towards a lasting peace and becoming a post conflict society; thousands of people were, and still are, affected by violence.  A whole sector of organisations had built up to support victims, in fact the societal infrastructure, including welfare and health and structures of Government are hugely entwined in the legacy of conflict. One term dominates discourse and that is ‘dealing with the past.’  In other United Kingdom jurisdictions such as Wales, Scotland, and England; the conflict remained at a geographical distance, and such terms are not familiar. Those affected by the Troubles, as the conflict is often described, remain geographically and demographically dispersed, somewhat disconnected and are often left to deal with the past themselves.  The imperative of some to move on or even to use the phrase that hurts most – ‘closure’ – is hard to swallow. That is why, inspired by our Founders, we learnt from the efforts taking place on the island of Ireland to seek reconciliation and peace; and we set up a project called ‘Legacy.’ We sought to bring victims of terrorism together to share their experiences, tell their stories, to provide relevant health and well-being support and to advocate for their needs.  In some cases, we undertook sensitive dialogue processes even with the protagonists of violence; anything that we could do to help people cope with their circumstances and, where possible, recover as they can. The Peace Foundation peer to peer support service is now offered to anyone affected by terrorism domiciled in the United Kingdom. In Northern Ireland, the continued peace process is punctuated by initiatives to try and deal with the past.  From proposals to establish institutions such as an oral history archive, a historical investigations unit, and an Independent Commission for Information Retrieval; to numerous academic, and practice led dialogue processes; the quest to deal with the past continues. There is another imperative that is pressing and that is of the present, and the future.  The Peace Foundation’s learning has shown a strong desire by victims and survivors to ensure that what happened to them never happens to anybody else.  Our practice has...

Report cites the importance of terrorism peer to peer support

The importance of peer to peer support for people affected by terrorism is demonstrated in an article published by the International review of Victimology (IRV). ...

The importance of peer to peer support for people affected by terrorism is demonstrated in an article published by the International review of Victimology (IRV).  The article reports on the experiences and perceptions of peer support offered to UK terrorist survivors and follows research undertaken by Nichola Rew at the University of Portsmouth following an extensive study. The results demonstrated an overwhelming preference by those affected by terrorism to seek support through peers who have experienced the same event, as opposed to seeking support through professional, established victim support organisations. The research found that those survivors of terror attacks who took part in the study generally had negative experiences of official channels of support. One of the main barriers to accessing formal support was not the stigma of seeking help, but the lack of joint working between agencies resulting in delayed treatment times. In the last few weeks, the Home Office Victims of Terrorism Unit has established a new network of four organisations to combine formal statutory and non-statutory support alongside commissioning the Peace Foundation to enhance its peer-to-peer support service. The Peace Foundation is facilitating a variety of peer support online and offline networks alongside specialists who can offer individual and group support and host relevant events. If you want to know more or seek access to support, then contact the Peace Foundation at support@peace-foundation.org.uk The full paper can be accessed here Supporting the survivors: Experiences and perceptions of peer support offered to UK terrorist survivors Nichola Emma Jalfon Rew First Published October 28, 2020 Research Article Abstract Recent terror incidents in the UK, including the targeting of concert attendees in Manchester, to individuals socialising and working in central London, highlight the public’s vulnerability and that attacks can be indiscriminate, resulting in any individual becoming a victim to this fearful crime. As a consequence of these and other attacks, including those overseas, media reporting within the UK has increasingly focused on the inadequate levels of support offered to survivors from official agencies. However, little evaluation has been conducted regarding the benefits of support networks and online support groups created directly by those individuals affected by terror attacks. Quantitative research findings obtained through a self-administered online questionnaire, completed by 81 survivors of terrorist attacks who are members of different peer support networks in the UK, endorsed that while victims feel that adequate professional support is lacking, significant positive experiences have been achieved through peer support, particularly through the internet. This first independent academic study found that it was these methods of support that had the most resonance with individuals and offers several recommendations, based on findings, which could enhance and improve support for survivors of terrorism in the future. Access the report here  

the need for a community wealth fund

Peace Foundation Chief Executive Nick Taylor is an external member of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for 'Left behind Communities.' In this blog Nick...

Peace Foundation Chief Executive Nick Taylor is an external member of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for 'Left behind Communities.' In this blog Nick sets out the need for a community wealth fund and asking for you to support a cross-party call upon the Prime Minister to establish a fund for long-term investment. Our communities need investment in their social fabric as well as hard infrastructure. A Community Wealth Fund would provide ‘left behind’ communities the opportunity to improve where they live. A letter has been signed by 41 MPs and peers from across the political divide and calls on the Prime Minister and Chancellor to ensure that 225 ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods in England do not miss out on benefiting from the government’s mission to level up the country.    The cross-party group is asking the government to commit funds from the next wave of dormant assets, to rebuild the social fabric of neighbourhoods which have seen the loss of vital community infrastructure in recent decades, and to give local people control over funding.  The intervention follows the Chancellor’s announcement of a £4 billion Levelling Up Fund in the Autumn Spending Review. Members of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods are calling on the Government to go further by implementing a series of specific proposals put forward by the Conservative MP, Danny Kruger, in his recent report ‘Levelling up our communities: proposals for a new social covenant’. Among the recommendations to receive the backing of MPs is a plan to use £2 billion of dormant assets earmarked for local projects to create a new Community Wealth Fund targeted specifically at ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods. It forms the centre piece of a new social contract in which local people are properly supported and empowered to play an active role in reinvigorating their own communities.  The letter cites recent research showing people living in these neighbourhoods – deprived communities also lacking places to meet, active local civic organisations and poor connectivity – experience significantly worse outcomes across education, health and employment than other equally deprived places, and England as a whole. Often located on the periphery of towns and cities, these areas have missed out on past funding and regeneration, and many are facing economic hardship exacerbated by the pandemic.   The 41 signatories make the case for placing this new wave of dormant assets in an independent endowment, tasked with investing over the long term in rebuilding the foundations of local civic life in ‘left behind’ areas through:  Investment at a neighbourhood level   Long-term, patient funding provided over a ten–to–fifteen–year period   Community-led decision making to set local priorities  Appropriate support provided to build community confidence, capacity and skills  This proposal is also backed by the Community Wealth Fund Alliance, a group of over 340 civil society, public and private sector organisations including the Salvation Army, NCVO, YMCA and 21 local authorities. The Peace Foundation work in communities is showing urgent action is required and we are adding our support to this call. You can find out more about our work by clicking here - Community Action for Peace If you are working at community level, for example a local authority or police and crime commissioner, you can find out more about how we enter communities with our taking the temperature approach. For more information contact info@peace-foundation.org.uk

Think About It | People Like Us

Think About It | What does it take to make it in modern Britain? Ask a politician, and they will tell you it is hard...

Think About It | What does it take to make it in modern Britain? Ask a politician, and they will tell you it is hard work. Ask a millionaire, and they will tell you it is talent. Ask a CEO and they will tell you it is dedication. But what if none of those things is enough? THINK for Peace is the Peace Foundations’ programme for young people at senior school that helps them build character developing skills like critical thinking, reasoning, compassion, courage, citizenship, and community awareness.  It also prompts young people to develop confidence and determination, motivation, and perseverance, leading to resilience. Think About It is a ‘spin off;’ from our main THINK programme and helps develop thinking through creative pursuits such as the arts, sport, health and well-being and literature. For many young people who get caught up into a cycle that can lead to conflict and possibly violence; it is important to find a strong sense of direction and a ‘road map’ to move towards further and higher education or employment.  That pathway is hard, especially for some more than others, especially around the subject of employability and in finding a job. We live in a society where the single greatest indicator of what your job will be is the job of your parents. Where power and privilege are concentrated among the 7% of the population who were privately educated. Where, if your name sounds black or Asian, you will need to send out twice as many job applications as your white neighbour. Raised on benefits, barrister Hashi Mohamed knows something about social mobility. And as part of our latest Think About It initiative here, we introduce you to his book People Like Us, here he shares what he has learned: from the stark statistics that reveal the depth of the problem to the failures of imagination, education and confidence that compound it. Wherever you are on the social spectrum, this is an essential investigation into our society’s most intractable problem. We have more power than we realise to change things for the better. Hashi Mohamed Hashi arrived in Britain at the age of nine as a child refugee and is now a barrister at No5 Chambers in London. He is also a broadcaster, having appeared on BBC Radio 4, and presented Adventures in Social Mobility (April 2017) and Macpherson: What Happened Next (2019). He is also a contributor to the Guardian, The Times and Prospect. He mentors many young people at various stages of their career and is also a trustee of Big Education, a trust which oversees three inspirational schools in London and the South East. Think About it – People Like Us Notes to teachers, youth workers and all young people The book is published by Profile Books and is widely available through all good book sellers such as Waterstones, Goodreads, Book Depository or Amazon.  It is available as an Audible audiobook, in hardcover and paperback and as a Kindle edition.  You may...

World Children’s Day 2020 and the Peace Foundation

It is world children's day - across the world the nongovernmental organisation UNICEF is promoting action to ensure that the voice of children is heard...

It is world children's day - across the world the nongovernmental organisation UNICEF is promoting action to ensure that the voice of children is heard in trying to create a better world for the future. This year has been one like no other, we know in many parts of our society that children were already facing huge challenges, that of poverty, that of dealing with the modern world that presents real issues around safeguarding, uncertainty, and fear, and then there is the pandemic . It has changed many of our lives.  We now have to keep distance from each other, wear protective face coverings, the hygiene standards we have to adopt, but also in the isolation, the worry, and the concern that it creates; this is being most felt by children. In this country their education has been disrupted.  So have their social structures and ability to thrive in our world. World Children’s day gives us the chance to reflect on what we can do next to make this a better and more positive world and future for all our children. The Peace Foundation is very much about creating that positive future and giving children and young people the skills and abilities, they need to cope and thrive in contemporary society.   The programmes we run in schools aim to enhance traditional education and teaching in subjects like maths, English, modern science, languages, and history.  We deliver experiential learning, that is experiences that they can use to develop the wisdom they will need to navigate the modern world.  We have had to adapt all programmes to the challenges of 2020 and have done so. In primary schools we offer our ‘steps’ programmes. Tiny steps for those younger children to understand aspects like friendship, compassion, kindness to themselves, and kindness to others.  In upper primary we offer our Small Steps for peace which begins to look at the more serious issues and challenges in the world; and prepares those children for transition to senior school. In senior schools, we start to look at aspects such as identity, image, and belonging. We also start to look aspects like safeguarding, radicalisation, and extremism. We discover how to resolve conflict, without resorting to violence, and in positioning those young people to become adults and the future leaders in society. In further and higher education, and working with teachers, and other similar professionals, we assist them to provide the guidance to our children and young people, by developing their skills to hold difficult conversations. The work we undertake throughout education is vital and on World Children's day we are realigning ourselves to do even more in the future. We need your support, and we need everybody at this time to think of our children and what we can do to help them make a better future for themselves and for others. If you would like to find out more about our programmes then contact us now and we can discuss what we can do to help...

Now is the time to take the temperature in our...

Time to take the temperature in our communities Nick Taylor, Peace Foundation Chief Executive calls for urgent work in communities to ‘take the temperature’ and...

Time to take the temperature in our communities Nick Taylor, Peace Foundation Chief Executive calls for urgent work in communities to ‘take the temperature’ and respond with actions to ensure we address the impact of Covid 19. I was listening to a language course presented by the well-known teacher Michel Thomas.  A pupil asked him why the French word for please had evolved to be a conflation of four different words from a single word in the past (answers on a postcard).  His answer has stuck with me: “people change and language changes with people.” Modern language is a myriad of changes, the pandemic has added to the language with lockdown, new normal, self-isolating, unprecedented being used constantly. It is the same in work within communities: hard to reach, the red wall, Workington man, left behind all being used. Modern society and democracy should surely struggle with having communities that are left behind, but unfortunately we have not been able to address that we broadly experience a society that includes those that ‘have’ and those that ‘have not’ creating an ‘us’ and ‘them.’ Covid 19 attracted some language about us ‘all being in it together’ and ‘all in the same boat.’  Unfortunately, we are not – far from it.  Covid 19 has been a real divider, just take the language – key workers, furlough workers, shielded, vulnerable, heroes – all of it based on identity and division. It was no surprise that on 22nd April the Guardian newspaper dropped less a pebble into the pond and more a great big boulder when its headline ran - ‘Ethnic minorities dying of Covid-19 at higher rate, analysis shows.’ The analysis found that of 12,593 patients who died in hospital up to 19 April, 19% were Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) even though these groups make up only 15% of the general population in England.  And it revealed that three London boroughs with high BAME populations - Harrow, Brent, and Barnet – were also among the five local authorities with the highest death rates in hospitals and the community. While it is not yet clear why communities with proportionally higher number of BAME inhabitants appear to be dying at higher rates, one expert on public and ethnic health said that social deprivation was the strongest indicator for mortality due to an increased underlying burden of disease. Earlier this year, a spin-out research consultancy from the Social Disadvantage Research Centre at the University of Oxford, the Oxford Consultants for Social Inclusion (OCSI) produced a report looking at the indicators within ‘left behind areas.’ They concluded that there are notably fewer job opportunities locally when compared against other deprived areas, and high levels of unemployment This poor performance is reflected in other socio-economic trends, for example 'Left-behind' areas are falling behind other deprived areas in terms of achieving reductions in levels of child poverty, with just under one-in-three children in the 'Left-behind' areas living in poverty. There are many people with no formal qualifications,...

THINK project Peace Foundation

Tim Parry’s 40th birthday – Jon Nicholas reflects

This blog is authored by Jon Nicholas - Jon is the Peace Foundation practice adviser and our most senior associate.  His experience from working in...

This blog is authored by Jon Nicholas - Jon is the Peace Foundation practice adviser and our most senior associate.  His experience from working in conflict zones across the world and in helping devise the incredible approaches we have to working with children, young people, and adults is what helps make the Peace Foundation learning very special.  These are Jon's words: Today would have been the 40th Birthday of Tim Parry, who along with Johnathan Ball lost his life due to an IRA bomb in Warrington in 1993.  Important dates are bound to prompt reflection about what could have been had hate and fate not taken a precious son away.  What hopes and dreams would have been achieved? What challenges and potentials met, and what laughs and loves shared? These sadly can only ever be guessed. What is not open to speculation though is the activity power and legacy of the Foundation and centre that bears Tim’s name. For over twenty years the work has helped people of all ages, professions and groups strengthen their personal and community peace building capacities. It has also been there to help people recover from the violence of extremism which robbed the world of Tim. Many young people return to school this week opening new chapters up in their lives in what are genuinely challenging times. The Tim Parry and Johnathan Ball Peace Foundation continues to equip those it meets with the confidence and skills to break cycles of prejudice and pain. It does so with determination and a serious sense of and fun and compassion. Difficult conversations are held, recovery is made, and new friendships are formed. The vital work of the Foundation must be allowed to continue and develop. Please find out how to help and support here  https://www.peace-foundation.org.uk/ Happy Birthday Tim, rest assured, you are not and never will be forgotten, your name means so much to thousands of people you never met. It means challenge, it means hope it means change, it means in big and small ways that cooperation and aspiration make better futures. It means peace. Jon Nicholas 1st September 2020