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

We come in Peace

Today is International Youth Day, a day dedicated to recognising and celebrating the contributions young people make to our communities and across the world. Today...

Today is International Youth Day, a day dedicated to recognising and celebrating the contributions young people make to our communities and across the world. Today we want to share a new and exciting project we’ve been working on over the past few months with young people. You might have seen us introducing some new intergalactic friends on our Twitter and Facebook pages recently. Have you figured out what on earth we’re doing this for? Well, let’s start from the beginning. It feels very much like stating the obvious, but Covid-19 has had and will continue to have long-lasting effects on society. We know in particular that it will be young people who are affected for many years to come. We also know that to support young people and societies to flourish and prevent conflict, we have to respond early and be proactive. For us, that means working with young people to develop key skills to support them in their healthy future development. Lockdowns and covid restrictions have affected children’s and young people’s socialisation, educational, cognitive, and emotional development. With nearly 9 months out of the school environment and disruptions to their learning through the collapse of ‘bubbles’, young people’s access to school has been highly inequitable. Add to this the variety of different situations young people face outside of school, such as poverty, instability, and violence in the home. Whilst these issues are not new, the very sad fact is that young people throughout lockdowns have been forced to endure prolonged exposure to awful conditions. From violence and abuse to hunger, through to limited interaction with their peers and access to learning materials. Evidence states that “Children who feel threatened or unsafe may develop physiological responses and coping behaviours that are attuned to the harsh conditions they are experiencing at the time, at the long-term expense of physical and mental well-being, self-regulation, and effective learning.” [https://developingchild.harvard.edu/resources/connecting-the-brain-to-the-rest-of-the-body-early-childhood-development-and-lifelong-health-are-deeply-intertwined/] Intervention to support children in these formative years is incredibly important to their future development. Schools and other community initiatives have done incredible things to support young people and their families over the past 18 months and continue to do amazing things. Schools we have been working with have expressed all of this and more in their care of their young people. One of the areas affected greatly by restrictions was the Liverpool City Region. We have long had strong relationships with primary schools in the region. So when schools returned to face-to-face learning staff realised that their young people needed additional support to reacclimatise to classrooms, and so we launched the Steps Programme. As part of the Steps programme, we deliver our Tiny Steps and Small Steps for Peace projects, which aim to support primary aged students, as young as 6, to develop healthy social and emotional skills, as a way of creating a healthy foundation for their educational, cultural, and health attainment in later life. These projects support young people to understand and express their emotions positively, learn problem-solving skills, and develop...

Is it worse to be a victim of terrorism than...

Is it worse to be a victim of terrorism than any other violent crime? What is so different about being a victim or survivor of terrorism? Should the state response...

Is it worse to be a victim of terrorism than any other violent crime? What is so different about being a victim or survivor of terrorism? Should the state response for victims of terrorism be different to that for other crime?  The short answers are, ‘No’, ‘It’s complicated’, and ‘Yes (maybe).   The issues surrounding these questions lie at the heart of our work with victims and survivors of terrorism at the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Peace Foundation, founded by Colin and Wendy Parry, the parents of 12-year-old Tim, who was killed, along with 3-year-old Johnathan Ball, in IRA bomb attack on Warrington Town Centre in 1993. Since then, the Peace Foundation has become a leading international Peacebuilding and Conflict Resolution organisation and has, for many years, provided support for victims and survivors of terrorism.   Is it worse to be a victim of terrorism than any other violent crime? From speaking to many people, I do not think anyone who has been directly or indirectly impacted by terrorism would say that their experience was especially ‘worse’ than that of a victim of any other violent crime, but it is different in many ways. Each victim’s experience (and this is true any crime) is unique but victims of terrorism face additional challenges. For example, they may find themselves in the midst of a global conflict they had no previous part of. A media storm blows up around them that takes no heed of their wellbeing, privacy, or other needs. Their names may be brought up to further political causes they may not agree with. I could go on.  What is so different about being a victim or survivor of terrorism? When an act of terrorism is carried out, generally speaking, the victims were not the focus. Society at large, a way of life, all of ‘us’ – was the target. Individual victims become almost incidental and emerge as footnotes in their own story, and this adds to the feeling of being out of control of events and overwhelmed by the tragedy. Fortunately, despite the current threat levels, terrorism in GB is rare and the chances of any of us being affected by terrorism are vanishingly small, but this compounds the feeling of isolation and that nobody understands what they have been through.  Should the state response for victims of terrorism be different? One argument is that, as society at large, was the target, the state has an additional responsibility to the victims and survivors. This is a national, not a local issue. If someone visiting Sunderland from Somerset, Strabane, Stornoway, or Swansea, was injured in a terrorist attack, which local authority or Police and Crime Commissioner should be responsible for the aftercare? In short, the answer is a combination of local and national services. People need quality and timely support that meets their needs and is delivered locally but nationally coordinated and funded in a sustainable way that recognises the need for continuity and recognises the long-term needs of victims and survivors of terrorism.   In my presentation at Edge Hill University on Friday 2nd July, I will discuss some other issues relating to the needs of victims and survivors of terrorism, but I am hopeful that the new ‘Support to UK Victims of Terrorism’ service (the Peace Foundation in partnership with the South London & Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, Victim Support and Cruse) that has been funded by the Home Office, Victims of Terrorism Unit will go some way to meeting these needs.     Terry O’Hara 

The team take part in the Virtual Trauma Recovery Summit...

The Peace Foundation has a skilled and experienced team of caseworkers who provide peer support and psychosocial support for victims and survivors of terrorism throughout...

The Peace Foundation has a skilled and experienced team of caseworkers who provide peer support and psychosocial support for victims and survivors of terrorism throughout the UK. Making sure they are up to date with the latest knowledge and understanding about trauma and trauma recovery so that they can integrate this into their work is one of my key responsibilities as manager of the team. This week, the team have been attending the 'Virtual Trauma Recovery Summit 2021'. This 3-day event, run by 'Trauma Action', is being hosted live from Belfast's Titanic centre and brings together world-leading experts with over 600 practitioners from around the globe working in the field of trauma recovery. Sessions have included the ‘Trauma-Informed Approach’; Mindfulness; the use of EMDR; adapting to Online Therapy; and many other topics. Clare North, the Peace Foundation's Health and Wellbeing Caseworker for victims and survivors of the Northern Ireland Troubles, took part in a workshop on Art Therapy and shared a brilliant ‘time lapse’ video of the session. A key message of the summit, and one that we have always promoted in our work with clients and in our training for professionals, is the importance of the Trauma-Informed Approach’. This means a consistent emphasis on Safety (both for the client and the practitioner); Choice (restoring choice and control); Facilitating connections; Supporting coping; Responding to identity and context; and Building strengths. The good news is that, in general, people are resilient and, with the right support – provided at the right time, the chances of someone having a healthy outcome from their traumatic experience are good. There are several interventions that are known to be effective including EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitising Reprocessing) and Trauma-focused CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). Although we are not a clinical service, our caseworkers understand what is available and can help you make informed choices about your support. I have really enjoyed (virtually) coming together with practitioners from all over the world and hearing speakers such as Bessel van der Kolk (one of the world’s foremost experts on trauma and author of the seminal book ‘The Body keeps The Score’) speak about the latest thinking about treatments for trauma but it has been wonderful engaging with other practitioners in the various forums and breakout groups. It is reassuring to see so many people committed to making life better for those affected by trauma. Our casework team is funded by the Home Office, Victims of Terrorism Unit to provide peer support for victims and survivors of terrorism and by the Northern Ireland Victims and Survivors Service for a health and wellbeing caseworker for victims and survivors of the Northern Ireland Troubles living in GB. To contact the team for support or to learn more about our work, please email support@peace-foundation.org.uk. If you have been affected by the Troubles / Conflict, please email: clare.north@peace-foundation.org.uk or call our office on 01925 581215 (answerphone) or 07957 245685.   By Terry O'hara

No Man is an Island

'No Man is an Island' No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the...

'No Man is an Island' No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main…any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. Extracts from - MEDITATION XVII - Devotions upon Emergent Occasions - John Donne The announcement by the United Kingdom Government to reduce international aid from £14.5bn (about $20bn) last year to £10bn this year ($14bn) because of the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, has major implications.  The Foreign Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that the UK Government will reduce its aid expenditure as a proportion of national income, and therefore decrease aid expenditure from 0.7% to 0.5% based on the UK’s GNI. Yet, such a decision that could be catastrophic in terms of geopolitics and the world’s need to achieve its sustainable development targets, is hardly getting a mention in the press, and certainly nothing like the attention of the Prime Minister’s flat decorations in Downing Street. For the past year, the Peace Foundation has been working with a partner organisation, the Lebanese Foundation for Permanent Peace, to develop a ground-breaking programme that would see techniques we have developed in conflict resolution and preventing extreme violence; deployed across Lebanon. We have spent hours, sleepless nights in fact, and years, building the relationships and trust, credentials, and credibility to undertake this work.  The UK Aid funding application took days, weeks, months to complete and is hugely involved and the cost of the process is huge.  We are not alone, there are numerous similar projects in development, using the UK’s strong global position to provide solutions to some of the world’s biggest problems. The decision to cut UK international aid has wiped out the programme.  Following such a huge effort, the letter from the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) consisted of a few sentences.  This one brought the bad news: “Unfortunately, we are having to make reductions in our programmes, including UK Aid Direct. The funding available to UK Aid Direct has been significantly reduced and we have had to make the difficult decision to not progress with UK Aid Direct Round 5 of the programme, which means your application for a grant will not be progressed.” For us, it is not game over, as, even if our Government does not support our programme, we will try and seek help from others such as opening talks with the US State Department and the European Commission.  For others, the decision is terrible.  Two UN agencies announced huge funding cuts of more than 80%. The UN Population Fund, which now calls itself the UN’s sexual and reproductive health agency, said it had been informed that its flagship family planning program was being cut from £154m ($211m) to around £23m ($32m). In addition, it said £12m ($17m) is being cut from its core operating funds.  UNAIDS, which unites the work of 11 UN organisations trying to reduce HIV infections and deaths to zero, said its...

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