A quarterly report by Didge Hatcher and Chris Waite, UK Community PEP Advisers
In early March 2019, Peace Partners charity received almost £10K of National Lottery funding to help work with community and youth organisations to enable them to organise and facilitate the TPRF Peace Education Programme (PEP), throughout the UK. As a result, we are making the PEP workshops more widely available to the community irrespective of religion, age, gender, race, or any issues they may be experiencing such as poor mental health or homelessness. This is in collaboration with our partners and organisations who have a similar purpose; for them to share across their networks and social media; on the Peace Partners’ website and through e-bulletins and mailings.
Peace Partners has been working closely with communities affected by gang violence in South London and this is an area where we have recently concentrated our efforts to facilitate and run the Peace Education Programme. We have appealed to members of the wider community, youth leaders and organisations working with vulnerable people and community projects, to talk to us about becoming involved and for them to find out more about setting up this programme in their own organisations. To this end, in April we ran an event in Croydon with three different workshops, of which an introduction to the PEP was one. Several representatives were invited to attend and some spoke about their own efforts in their communities, including the Tutu Foundation, Ubuntu Round Table Project and Shanika Benjamin’s Young People Insight. There was a lot of enthusiastic interest in the PEP presentation from these people and from many other representatives and attendees.
Called a Conflict Resolution Workshop, this event led on to a five-week Training PEP, held specifically for those organisations who had shown interest. Several attendees from these organisations signed up and two completed the course after attending most of the ten workshops. This training PEP was also attended by participants who were familiar with the material and wanted to be clear about how to facilitate a PEP. We are very pleased to be able to expand our PEP teams to cope with the expected demand.
St Mungos is a UK charity that has three recovery colleges, offering a wide range of courses, they cater for adults who are vulnerable to homelessness and mental health issues. The PEP collection was trialled at one of their London bases in the Spring Term and was deemed to be the most popular course at the college. A second course is now running during the summer term and we hope to continue these courses into the future. Organisers at the college are encouraging us to take the PEP to their other London base, also into their hostels. At the same time the base in Bristol is very interested in running the PEP in the Autumn term. An experienced facilitator will set up an introduction to PEP for staff and some potential students. This partly came about through a recommendation from a London based St Mungos worker. We plan to offer the PEP to other homeless charities and have already had an enthusiastic response from a branch in Croydon.
Other UK wide efforts have included reaching out to people in different areas who have put on their own PEP or would like to do so. Cornwall is notable in that a small team put in a lot of work promoting the PEP to communities in the Falmouth area by showing the film ‘Peace is Possible’ which 80 people attended, followed up with a successful Peace Education Programme with 9 regular attendees. They hope to repeat this success at Falmouth University (Combined Universities of Cornwall) later this year.
Peace Partners offers information about TPRF resources and financial support where needed. The Trustees have developed an application process for small requests for money and a more in-depth process for larger amounts, such as the grant awarded to Celebrate Life Events in May. This money supported their efforts to introduce PEPs to a younger audience in London through music, art and dance. Peace Partners have contributed smaller amounts towards PEP materials costs to individuals running PEPs in prisons and in the community such as the St Mungo’s PEP.
In May we screened ‘Peace is Inevitable’ at a small cinema in Croydon with approx. 40 attendees, some of the interested organisations from the Conflict Resolution Workshop attended. A tutor from Goldsmiths Teacher Training College saw the film and is now considering the PEP as a course for teachers, she also commented that she would let her MP know that the PEP is vital to help with knife crime. This is typical of the regular comments and enquiries we receive from many parts of the UK.
Quotes from a PEP participant from the homeless community at St Mungos:
“Life is sacred; when I realise that life is special, when I come from gratitude to be alive, I welcome every moment. I see the world differently. Life is beautiful. I realise I have a gift which needs to be cherished, this realisation is empowering. Life is worth living.”
“Today I woke up brimming with happiness; I looked forward to attending the 2nd week of the Peace Education Programme. I shared my poem with the group and it was well received.”