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

If you don’t enjoy Bonfire Night, this may help

With Hallowe’en last night and Bonfire Night on 5th November just around the corner, this time of year is often especially challenging for people who,...

With Hallowe’en last night and Bonfire Night on 5th November just around the corner, this time of year is often especially challenging for people who, like many of the people our SAN team work with, have experienced an acute stress reaction or live with PTSD. It’s important to recognise that you or those around you might find the sudden bangs and flashes distressing and to consider how you are going to prepare for this period, or respond if something unexpected happens. There are a number of good advice resources available online to help you cope during this period, including this one from MIND. Many people find using ‘Grounding’ or ‘Mindfulness’ helpful. Grounding techniques can keep you in the here-and-now and help you avoid feelings, memories, flashbacks or intrusive thoughts that you don't feel able to cope with yet. They work by focussing on the sensations you are feeling right now: Listen to other sounds around you like birdsong, or music Notice the feel of your clothes against your body; the wind against your face and the ground beneath your feet; wrapping yourself in a blanket and feeling it around you Touch something or sniff something with a strong smell like perfume or something nice to eat You might find it helpful to keep a box of things with different textures and smells (for example perfume, a blanket and some smooth stones) ready for when you need it. Consider earphones for listening to music or noise-cancelling ones to minimise the sound. It might be helpful to plan for the coming period and to consider where you will be on Bonfire Night. It could be particularly helpful to mention to family and friends how you are feeling. In the worst-case scenario, consider having an emergency plan so that people know how best to help you. With luck, all of this will prove to be unnecessary, but please take care of yourselves during this noisy time. If you would like to speak to a member of the Survivors Assistance Network team at the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Peace Foundation about this or anything else, please email us or ring 01925 581 240. (SAN is not a 24/7 service, but all voice messages and emails left out of office hours will be responded to the next working day. If your need is urgent, please ring 111 or 999 as appropriate). by Terry O'Hara - Survivors Assistance Network Manager

Blog: Sticks and stones can break your bones but…

Before you read this blog you need to make a decision. You need to decide whether you want to read an explicit statement made by...

Before you read this blog you need to make a decision. You need to decide whether you want to read an explicit statement made by a six-year-old boy. Because, as you will see, words can hurt and they do. A few weeks ago, a colleague from the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Peace Foundation was delivering one of our programmes. During the programme she spent time talking with young children, those at key stage one, starting out on their education, how people are always different from each other. She showed some material that demonstrated this, where people had built physical walls to divide different communities. And, she asked the children what they would do if they met somebody who is different to them – that is someone who could be considered as the other. The answer a six-year-old boy gave was - and here you need to decide whether to read on or not and whether you can deal with the next statement - “I would blow their hand off with a grenade.” Just pause for a moment. Just reflect. This was a six-year-old, not in some inner-city school as stereotypes may dictate, but in a leafy suburb in a well-to-do area The lesson moved on to look at why and how such of a view was being formed and this may not surprise you. Our world of modern technology, including gaming and social media, and access to the World Wide Web, has brought unprecedented information to many people, including young children. When questioned further, we found another major surprise.  That is the number of children who are watching television programmes that we would normally class as being after the watershed. The fact that six-year-olds are watching programs like BBC’s Bodyguard, one of the biggest TV experiences of the year, and experiencing prolonged and explicit violence, including terrorism, aspects of violent extremism and simulated sex involving fictional senior politicians, is something we all need to pause and think about.  With so much information available, the sheer number of words and, often words that cause harm, that are reaching children is phenomenal. The ability of young children to absorb such information and words, the process them all, and apply critical thinking to deal with such material, is being sorely tested.  The impact on their knowledge and wisdom is not fully quantified, but for some could it be the start of a path that may lead to radicalisation and even violent extremism.  I refer you to the solution our six-year-old gave.  Playful naivety or something that could lead to something far more sinister? We, at the Peace Foundation, believe that words matter, and over the past few weeks we have been working with survivors of terror and violent conflict to understand the impact words used by the media and those in public life, has on them, and also the impact the words are having on those that may use violence to harm others. It is a frightening and daunting picture. And we have...