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

Random Acts of Kindness

Random Acts of Kindness - make a difference every day a contribution to Mental Health Awareness Week 2020 The Peace Foundation was founded in 1995...

Random Acts of Kindness - make a difference every day a contribution to Mental Health Awareness Week 2020 The Peace Foundation was founded in 1995 following a terrorist attack in 1993 as part of a thirty year conflict we call 'the troubles' on our islands.  In the aftermath of the bombing that killed children, two of many killed as part of the conflict, the parents of one of the boys, Tim Parry, decided to act, not in anger or hatred, but with kindness, to seek to try and ensure no other parent went thorough what they did. They set up a charity and to this date, the charity works to stop terrorism and support those affected by violent conflict. The Peace Foundation is at the forefront of helping improve people's mental health in a variety of ways.  One of those ways is by promoting kindness.  Kindness to yourself and kindness to others.  The process of reconciliation on our islands continues and the Peace Foundation is funded by the Northern Ireland Victims and Survivors Service to provide health and welfare support to people in Great Britain affected by the troubles. Since the start of the Covid 19 crisis, we have been providing additional support, along with VSS providers across Northern Ireland. Today, along with VSS, we are asking people to think about being kind to themselves and others.  Peter Topping, who is a case manager in the Victims and Survivors Service has asked us to watch a short film and penned these words: "Staying positive, motivated and active during these uncertain times is difficult and can be a struggle. "As we take time this week to reflect during Mental Health Awareness Week I wanted to share with you a short film and talk on how to stay young, healthier, motivated and have a greater sense of feeling empowered to face the challenges ahead. "The theme of the talk is “one small act of kindness”.  Acts like the appreciation of key workers/ NHS staff on a Thursday evening, fundraising challenges, food bank donations and family and neighbours supporting each other. "That act of giving and being kind, allows us to support others but it also helps to improve our self-esteem, self-worth, energy and a sense of wellbeing. It allows us to feel good about ourselves knowing that the “one small act of kindness” has made a difference and helped someone else either smile, laugh, eat, sleep or just improved their day. "My wife is an ICU nurse working in the Belfast Nightingale City Hospital at present and she has  told me about the multiple acts of kindness from patients families, friends and strangers and how it has made a massive difference to the mental health and wellbeing of all the NHS staff members. "The work you are doing everyday within your organisations is life changing for many - the extra phone call, the food package, the delivery of a prescription is holding the most vulnerable in our communities together, building stronger relationships....

Peace – Prosperity – Friendship

Peace Prosperity Friendship Among the red and blue lights, flags, cakes, roast beef and Yorkshire pudding canapes and various departing tropes being trailed around the...

Peace Prosperity Friendship Among the red and blue lights, flags, cakes, roast beef and Yorkshire pudding canapes and various departing tropes being trailed around the United Kingdom today, is a charming little 50p coin with the inscription. “Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations” and today’s date, January 31. Now, before we start, yes there is the matter of a missing comma, but, leaving that aside (see my solution at the end of this post), the words on the coin, are powerful, particularly that word peace. There is no real way of predicting what impact our leaving the European Union will mean for a lasting peace, but, whilst trade agreements and other highly political positioning will dominate, we need to commit ourselves to the pursuit of sustainable peace. Those that use violence, the extremists who seek to destabilise society and the terrorists, have no respect for borders.  In many of the recent incidents of violence, people impacted have come from all parts of the UK, Europe and beyond.  Terrorism is not a crime against individuals or locality, it is one against society. Our work in preventing terrorism, and supporting people affected, has a truly international dimension.  Our reconciliation efforts and some of the health and well being support is funded by the European Commission, sharing of best practice comes from membership of pan European networks, and the European Commission has just announced the award of a seven figure Euro contract to a consortium to create the European centre of expertise for victims of terrorism.  It is unclear what, if any, role we will now play in that. Isolation is not the answer, and neither is clamming together as a homogenous group.  We need cognitive diversity and collective effort to achieve peace. The Peace Foundation will work to keep promoting peace at all levels: individual, family, neighbourhood, regional, national and international.  We will seek to continue our active role across the European continent.  We will also ask for your support to do this. The missing Oxford comma is perhaps not the most pressing matter today as three million coins hit the streets, with a further seven million to follow.  There are also three versions of the coin available to buy from the Mint - an uncirculated cupro-nickle version for £10, a silver proof for £60 and a gold proof for £945.  The most expensive coins have now all been reserved but the cheaper two are still available to purchase.  But, if any of our supporters or donors are struggling with the grammar, then we would be delighted to take them off you or receive coins as a donation.  With your Gift Aid agreement, we could increase the value and make that engraved word of peace a reality! TO DONATE CLICK HERE

Northern Ireland’s ‘Troubles’ are never far away for many

The challenges faced by the people of Northern Ireland have been prominent in the press lately. With the widely-reported border issues related to the Brexit...

The challenges faced by the people of Northern Ireland have been prominent in the press lately. With the widely-reported border issues related to the Brexit process, the breakdown of the Northern Ireland Executive and frequent reports of consultations to address the legacy of the ‘Troubles’ that blighted the region for decades, it seems that once again Northern Ireland and its historical conflict is in the public consciousness in a way not seen for 20 years. I grew up in England in the 1990’s and I can honestly say that I had little knowledge of the pain and the suffering caused by the ‘Troubles’. From speaking to friends and peers, it seems this is not unusual. For a long time, the problems that the people of Northern Ireland faced were just not talked about to any great degree on this side of the water. I’m sure, however, if you are a survivor or victim of the ‘Troubles’, if someone you love was killed, if you were injured or received psychological injuries as a result of a ‘Troubles’ related incident, then your awareness of the legacy of that time is inordinately painful and not something that will ever leave you. There are some amazing services in Northern Ireland offering support to some of the people mentioned above. The Victims and Survivors Service in Northern Ireland commissions a wide range of organisations to provide psychosocial and clinical interventions for people who have been affected by the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland. Organisations such as Wave Trauma Care offer a specialist approach to supporting victims and survivors, and offer training to individuals and organisations in Trauma Informed Practice. Whilst the above is much needed and expertly delivered, the Stormont House Agreement (2014) recognises the needs of victims who do not live in Northern Ireland. 622 people from the Island of Britain were killed during the ‘Troubles’, and it is believed that thousands of people received physical or psychological injuries as a direct result of their experiences of a ‘Troubles-related incident’. In addition to this, according to a Northern Ireland Assembly report, Northern Ireland lost approximately 20,000 people from its population during the years correlating with the ‘Troubles’. So, we can assume that a large proportion of the Northern Irish diaspora living in England, Scotland or Wales are also in need of services – given that we know the associated injuries can be lifelong. A new service for victims and survivors in England, Scotland and Wales In 2003, The Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Peace Foundation was commissioned to produce a report which made recommendations for supporting survivors and victims of the ‘Troubles’ who live in England, Scotland and Wales. Since then,we have campaigned for services to be commissioned to meet these recommendations. In 2017, we were finally successful in our campaign and the Victims and Survivors Service in Northern Ireland commissioned two Health and Wellbeing Caseworkers to provide services on the island of Great Britain. We now have a full-time member of staff offering health and...