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

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

“You’re still on mute!”

Our flagship programme for front line professionals has gone digital, in this piece our colleague Mike Waite describes how  Holding Difficult Conversations has been adapted...

Our flagship programme for front line professionals has gone digital, in this piece our colleague Mike Waite describes how  Holding Difficult Conversations has been adapted for distanced online delivery. It’s said that one of the most-used phrases during the Covid-19 lockdown has been ‘you’re still on “mute”!’ Many workers in companies, public sector organisations, charities and voluntary groups have been doing much of their work online, using platforms like Zoom, Teams, or Skype. Read more about 'Covid 19 - Working Safely with the Peace Foundation' At the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Peace Foundation, we’ve been responding to this situation. We’ve been tracking how the Covid-19 situation has been generating new issues in cities, towns and neighbourhoods. There have been many positive examples of community activity, with volunteers and agencies supporting people who are shielding, making new links and connections, and providing crucial services like food and medicine delivery. But there have unfortunately also been new divisions, tensions and issues of contention. Some of the polarising behaviour around these takes place online, and one of the Peace Foundation’s new initiatives has been to develop our ‘Holding Difficult Conversations’ training course to take account of this. Download HOLDING DIFFICULT CONVERSATION course introduction Our online sessions continue to include a mix of interactive exercises to get people thinking and sharing perspectives; inputs on the theory of peace building and addressing disputed issues in nonviolent ways; and extended consideration of the particular challenges and issues facing teachers, youth workers, police officers, council workers, and members of voluntary sector organisations. I've helped devise and deliver online training through lock down and we’ve needed to recast our activities into a form that works online. That has meant making some aspects of them very explicit – and maybe that will feed into further development of our face to face training when we get back to that. There’s a different rhythm to running a course online than in a meeting room, but the key thing is for trainers to use a mix of styles and activities. We’ve also devised exercises which make use of the functionality of platforms like Zoom, such as practicing online conversations about current issues from #BlackLivesMatter to peoples’ views about wearing masks to protect from Covid-19. That approach means that there’s always a variety of ways that participants can take part in the sessions and engage with the issues the Peace Foundation are exploring. People say that they find the sessions useful: ‘very helpful’; ‘sensible and practical advice’ ‘well facilitated – a great training session. And there have been plenty of lively discussions – even if, sometimes, people have been halfway into the points they are making before someone has to point out to them that ‘you’re still on mute!’. Mike Waite July 2020 To find out more about how the Peace Foundation can now deliver online contact mike.waite@peace-foundation.org.uk

Family; families

How to speak to children about difficult subjects

Terrorism is indiscriminate and it is not only adults that end up as victims.  In the United Kingdom, we are focused on Covid 19, in...

Terrorism is indiscriminate and it is not only adults that end up as victims.  In the United Kingdom, we are focused on Covid 19, in certain parts of the world, violence continues.  May 2020 has seen the Taliban and Daesh committing numerous attacks across Afghanistan.  One such attack was on a maternity hospital and it killed and injured many, including newborn children.  Such an atrocity may seem geographically distant, but the grief and hurt that must be being felt in that Afghan town is very imaginable.  Three years ago today, 22nd May, young people and children were the targets of terrorism in Manchester, an appalling act that will be affecting many people with their own memories of loss, grief and hurt. At the Peace Foundation, our terrorism victim support caseworkers faced unprecedented numbers of people seeking our assistance.  Many were parents, many young people and many young children.  But how on earth do you speak to infants and primary school children about such awful matters? As party of mental health awareness week, we want to show you the method our caseworkers used. It came down to adapting a tradition from another distant part of the world. The indigenous people from the Highlands in Guatemala created Worry Dolls many generations ago as a remedy for worrying. According to legend, children tell their worries to the Worry Dolls, placing them under their pillow when they go to bed at night. By morning the dolls have gifted them with the wisdom and knowledge to eliminate their worries. Although normally aimed at younger children, Worry Dolls may be another useful resource for young people and are particularly effective when someone is experiencing high levels of anxiety. In addition to placing Worry Dolls under their pillow at night, children or young people can be encouraged to give the Worry Dolls to an adult as a way of expressing their anxiety and to prompt the adult to provide reassurance and support. In addition to the traditional Guatemalan Worry Dolls, there are other variations such as the ‘Worry Monster’ who destroys worries by eating them and the ‘Worry friend teddy bear’ who stores worries in his pouch. In our meetings with children, and their parents, our caseworkers used the worry dolls as intermediaries, to channel conversations and listen to children.  We also gave the bags of dolls to the children so the help carried on outside of our therapy. At this time, when many parents are struggling to explain the pandemic, the lock down and facing the fear of a return to a new normal and going back to school, we want to share the impact worry dolls can have, and maybe suggest to end Mental Heath Awareness Week, with the theme of kindness, that these little dolls can make a real difference. Our Mental Health Consultant, Nikki Lester, has put together a guide to making your own dolls.  You may need some craft items online - but why not try making some dolls and using them...

The science of kindness

It is Mental Health Awareness Week and our colleagues from the Northern Ireland Victims and Survivors Service have been working to promote techniques to support...

It is Mental Health Awareness Week and our colleagues from the Northern Ireland Victims and Survivors Service have been working to promote techniques to support positive health and well being. In this blog, Nicola Nugent who is a Health and Wellbeing Case Manager with the Victims and Survivors Service. shares with you six science-backed ways to improve your health through kindness. Science shows that as children, we’re biologically wired to be kind and we can further develop this trait with practice and repetition. Sometimes, however, due to outside influences and the stress of our day-to-day lives, we can lose this inherent ability. Kindness and empathy help us relate to other people and have more positive relationships with friends, family, and even strangers we encounter in our daily lives. As well as improving personal relationships, kindness can actually make us healthier. Here are six science-backed ways to improve your health through kindness. Kindness releases feel-good hormones Doing nice things for others boosts your serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of satisfaction and well-being. Like exercise, altruism also releases endorphins, a phenomenon known as a “helper’s high.” Kindness eases anxiety A recent study on happiness from the University of British Columbia (UBC) found that, “social anxiety is associated with low positive affect (PA), a factor that can significantly affect psychological well-being and adaptive functioning.” Positive affect refers to an individual’s experience of positive moods such as joy, interest, and alertness. The UBC researchers found that participants who engaged in kind acts displayed significant increases in PA that were sustained over the four weeks of the study. So, the next time you’re feeling a little anxious, look for opportunities to help others. Even a small gesture can make a big difference. Kindness is good for your heart Making others feel good can “warm” your heart, but being nice to others can also affect the actual chemical balance of your heart. Kindness releases the hormone oxytocin. According to Dr. David Hamilton, “oxytocin causes the release of a chemical called nitric oxide in blood vessels, which dilates (expands) the blood vessels. This reduces blood pressure and therefore oxytocin is known as a ‘cardioprotective’ hormone because it protects the heart (by lowering blood pressure).” It can help you live longer According to Health.com, you’re at a greater risk of heart disease if you don’t have a strong network of family and friends. When you’re kind to others, you develop strong, meaningful relationships and friendships. It reduces stress According to a study on the effects of prosocial behaviour on stress, “affiliative behaviour may be an important component of coping with stress and indicate that engaging in prosocial behaviour (action intended to help others) may be an effective strategy for reducing the impact of stress on emotional functioning.” Kindness prevents illness Inflammation in the body is associated with all sorts of health problems such as diabetes, cancer, chronic pain, obesity, and migraines. According to a study of adults aged 57-85, “volunteering manifested the strongest association with lower levels...

Being Connected

Being connected A Peace Foundation contribution to Mental Health Awareness Week One of the unique aspects of what the Peace Foundation does is predicated on...

Being connected A Peace Foundation contribution to Mental Health Awareness Week One of the unique aspects of what the Peace Foundation does is predicated on social connection.  Most issues related to violent conflict is about opposites and division and the creation of an ‘us’ and ‘them.’  Trying to stop the perception that there is an ‘other’ and preventing the fear and even hating that ‘other’ is key to stopping what sometimes leads to violence. So, our work is often highly connected and using techniques of games and connecting people.  Our caseworker service is also about being connected and ensuring those affected by violent conflict are given social support to promote health and well being. So, Covid 19 has driven an unexpected and huge challenge to that.  At its worse Covid 19 can take somebody’s life, it can create illness on a continuum from mild to severe, but it has also been a huge divide across society and even across the globe.  From the US and China at global level, to political spats here, to within families there are hundreds of examples of division.  The often-repeated mantra of ‘we are all in this together’ is somewhat disingenuous as we are divided by many factors. Currently, more than most we need connections and a coming together. Aulona Ulqinaku, from the University of Leeds, writing in the Conversation (20th May 2020) says: “The growing pool of research into the psychological impact of COVID-19 on mental well being indicates that many are concerned and frustrated at best, fearful and lonely at worst. One study in China found the coronavirus led to heightened anxiety, depression, and indignation, as well as sensitivity to social risks. "Being isolated at home for weeks on end has left many feeling what psychologists call socially excluded. Research shows this can affect people in different ways. It can damage your caring instincts and make you less empathetic. It can also increase your need for emotional connection to help you cope." The Peace Foundation is adapting fast. Our Peace Centre is now ‘bio-secure’ and working with the NHS to support their efforts in Warrington.  Our team are safe and are working in a different way, and when we re-enter education and communities we will be first class in ‘bio-secure’ practice.  And, most importantly, our caseworkers supporting people affected by violence are working at pace to ensure everybody feels connected and supported.  We have had to adopt new methods of contact. We have providing additional support to those in most need and been working to decrease any feelings of isolation and loneliness.  One such effort is in helping people deal with any boredom they may be feeling.  Our boredom busters and supportive advice is a real boost to well being.  The boredom buster graphics are provided to those who need or want help in discovering new activities. Today, as part of Mental Health Awareness week we share them with all of you – please feel free to share and use them. There are...