Peace Partners has been supporting screenings of the Peace Education Programme (PEP) documentary ‘Inside Peace’, both through our own forum in central London and more recently through a series of university presentations. We are pleased to include a report by Alan Plummer on a screening that took place on the 7th February in Falmouth, Cornwall .
On a wet and stormy night in February more than 80 people from all over Cornwall came to the Poly Arts Centre in Falmouth to watch a screening of the multi-award winning film Inside Peace. The film very movingly documents the transformation taking place in the lives of some of the inmates in a Texas Prison as they experience The Peace Education Program (PEP) and begin to make positive choices in their lives
Following the screening there was an opportunity during the break for people to pop into an exhibition showing how a PEP works, to ask questions and to register an interest in attending a PEP, or in having one facilitated for their organisation. A healthy interest was also taken in the well-stocked cake stall, which did a roaring trade!
Two volunteers, Liz Norris and Andrew Spiers, who have been running PEPs in a prison setting, and Pauline Cook, representing Peace Partners, very kindly drove down from Somerset and Devon to form a panel of speakers for the Question and Answer session which followed the break. This was a really lively session and, as well as focusing on PEP in a prison setting, there were questions raised about the possibilities for PEP being supported in other settings, such as with young people. In fact so animated was the discussion that it had to be drawn to a close to prevent us all being locked in the Poly for the night!
A number of individuals, and at least one organisation working with troubled younger people, expressed their interest in having a PEP facilitated. This interest will be followed up by the local Peace Education Cornwall team with a view to making it happen in the very near future.
As well as being an enjoyable 'movie' experience in itself, the evening was a perfect introduction to the Peace Education Programme for people who have never come across it before. On a personal note I would recommend anybody to watch this film: Inside Peace. I was moved and so impressed by the intelligence and the insight shown by the inmates profiled, and by the warm human responses evoked in such an uncompromising situation.
Watch some responses to the screening:
On Sunday 3rd. February, at the Friends Meeting House in Reigate, a presentation about the work of Peace Partners was successfully hosted by local supporters of The Prem Rawat Foundation (TPRF)
Thirty people, including several Peace Partners volunteers, attended the two and a half hour event, which featured a number of short video films about TPRF initiatives Food for People and The Peace Education Programme, both of which Peace Partners are supporting.
The fundraising segment included an interesting short talk by financial adviser David Windsor about the potential of gift aided donations, and there was an opportunity to donate on the day towards the TPRF initiatives. There were some truly generous donors, in total an amazing £1171 was raised (and this excludes several regular monthly pledge amounts). Many people mentioned afterwards how much they had enjoyed the event.
We would like to say thank you to all the team involved in organising the event, and to everyone who attended what was a wonderful afternoon, which concluded with an extra round of applause for our MC and presenter Barbara André and her very informative, thoughtful and heartfelt approach!
Members of the Peace Partners team attended the Westminster Insight Tackling Gangs and Youth Crime Conference in central London on the 23rd January. This a a report by one of the attendees, Barbara André.
What a day! I hadn’t thought a lot about this conference, and hadn’t even looked at the website beforehand to find out more as I knew that I wouldn’t know any of the speakers anyway.
I expected this to be a very long and possibly tiring day, and I was surprised how fast the time went by because the contributions were very interesting. The speakers were from different backgrounds and also viewpoints on the subject, as they are working for completely different organisations or public services, but one can say that all of them were incredibly passionate about it. They were personally engaged, and some even had personal experiences in this field and had been involved in gangs themselves at some point in time during their lives. We heard touching stories of how they were able to eventually turn their lives completely around.
Some of the contributions were rather shocking, opening our eyes to the extent of this situation and the ever more growing areas in the UK where gangs are becoming a problem. It is far from being solely a London issue any more; on the contrary the existing gangs are currently now targeting specific rural areas. Their tactics are nothing short of shocking. Something else which was frightening: the way the gang members exhibit their violence is becoming more and more brutal.
It was also interesting to hear that this is no longer mainly a problem concerning boys or young male adults, but many girls and woman are being ‘sucked into’ gang activities, and are consequently suffering in multiple ways. The age range of gang members seems to be shifting more and more to ever younger kids. Another myth which was exploded was that it is only kids born into a poor family who are prone to get involved with gangs, nowadays it is often middle-class children. Many of the speakers pointed out what a huge role social media is playing in helping gangs to expand in size at an alarming rate. It was made clear that it seems incredibly difficult, or even impossible, for a gang member to leave the gang for good, especially as social media is ever present.
I personally was particularly interested in the reasons why a young person would want to join a gang. One reason which was mentioned by everyone was when a boy or girl gets banned from school; another big reason is too little attention given by the parents; the geographical area where the kids get brought up; poverty; and the well thought out tactics of the gang leaders to entice a young person to get on board, be it by offering drugs for free, making promises that they will become rich and earn lots of money, or blackmailing them in some other way.
It was certainly a very insightful day. The only thing I missed was a discussion on how this malady could be stopped, or at least limited.