Peace Partners has enjoyed a wonderful third year as a UK registered charity. Our volunteer, supporter and donor base continues to grow steadily. Our appreciation to those who contribute financially to the projects we support through our Donation page is huge.
These postings from our news blog cover some of the highlights of our peace and outreach related work over the last 12 months:
Peace Education at St Mungos Recovery College (March 2019)
Read the post here
National Lottery funding award announced (March 2019)
Read the post here
Waves of Change forum workshops:
Finding peace through conflict resolution event (February 2019)
Read the post here
Inside Peace screening event in Cornwall (January 2019)
Read the post here
Peace Partners introduction event in Surrey (January 2019)
Read the post here
Interview with Max Whittle about the Kifubon project (January 2019)
Read the post here
Peace Partners introduction event in Oxford (December 2019)
Read the post here
Peace Partners introduction event in Cornwall (August 2018)
Read the post here
Waves of Change forum in Croydon
with UK premiere of 'Peace is Inevitable' (June 2018)
Read the post here
And this short clip gives a poetic flavour to our activities through to the end of 2018!
St Mungos Recovery College has an innovative new learning programme, based on the principle that personal learning can have a transformative effect on people’s lives. Set up by St Mungos, a national charity campaigning on issues of homelessness, the College has bases in London and Bristol, and is planning to expand to other areas.
The Recovery College does not focus on achieving qualifications, rather it provides an inclusive and supportive environment in which people have the opportunity to experience a range of subjects and wellbeing activities alongside peer learners and volunteer tutors and facilitators. Anyone can attend the college, St. Mungos clients and members of the public alike.
Responding to the open invitation from the Recovery College to offer ‘a topic as a course for others’ Peace Partners volunteers Juli and Chrissie thought the Peace Education Programme (PEP) would be an ideal course to offer. Partnership Manager Tracee paved the way by sending information from the Prem Rawat Foundation (TPRF), outlining the course and Chrissie went along to talk about the possibility with staff at the college.
The response was very positive, and the Recovery College went on to register and obtain a license to provide PEP Collections as a course under the heading of ‘Move on, Client support and practical skills’.
The first PEP is now half completed. The small team of volunteers who run the course is made up of St. Mungos staff in collaboration with Lola who facilitates and Chrissie from Peace Partners. The team reports that people attending have been enthusiastic and find it's a safe and comfortable environment in which to express their responses, ideas and feelings. Some of the expressions are verbalised and some are written as beautiful prose or poetry. Although numbers fluctuate from week to week, a core group has attended every session.
The particular PEP course chosen, PEP Collections, allows for a very flexible use of time and there are at least two reflection periods in each session, with a group reading at the end, which attendees and
staff seem to appreciate, and which stimulates further expression and interaction.
Taking place on Tuesday morning each session lasts up to two hours, including a break.
Some of the participants written expressions have been in the form of moving statements and poems, and we have been given the writers permission to publish some excerpts from those expressions here:
"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."
"I learnt that man may live to 25,550 days, which is equivalent to 70 years of age. When you realise how short life is it makes you appreciate that life is precious, every moment counts. You need to choose wisely how you spend your time ... try to truly enjoy yourselves. May this be the day to lead us to peace, to happiness and to Joy."
"Life is a miracle, breathing is a miracle. Take one day at a time, prepare for your life journey. Seek peace within, hold on to hope, know that within you is the strength to achieve your dreams. Be in the moment. Choose to be contented wherever you find yourself and know that you are blessed to be alive."
Chrissie reports that part of her initial motivation came from watching a news programme about homelessness; a man being interviewed said “what I really want, more than shelter food or money, is just to be treated like a human being”. She feels the PEP running at the Recovery College setting fits so well with that aspiration, one that we all share.
A reflection by Kathy Miller
Two years ago I attended an International Women's Day event at The Oval, Croydon and met three very interesting women who were there with the organiser Katie Rose. Fascinating conversations ensued.
This year there was a full line up of women from all walks of life and diverse backgrounds - approximately one hundred people crammed into the same venue.
It struck me that these women who had embraced causes in their lives, overcoming unbelievable adversity in the case of some, were all really special.
Music, choir and poetry were also celebrated with the stories of performers.
And that is what we all do really - tell our story. Maybe we do not do so in such a formal way but those from Peace Partners who attended enjoyed the variety and the positivity explored at such a stimulating event.
Women (and they embraced men too) who see a need in their communities and get on with what needs to be done, stand up for what they believe and share their achievements. We can say there is no direct correlation with peace in movements here and there but if you are fulfilled, share good fortune, inspire others to tell their stories, nurture new ideas and transform lives - does that not lead to a kind of peace?
International Women's Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.
The Prem Rawat Foundation provides clean water for children in need
Today, 2.1 billion people are still living without safe drinking water at home. In 2010, the UN recognised ‘the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights.’
The Prem Rawat Foundation runs the Food for People project which provides consistent, daily nourishment for children and infirm adults living in Nepal, Ghana and India. Basic hygiene lessons, including washing hands, combined with clean water and nutritious meals, make a big impact on children's health.
World Water Day 2019: Leaving no one behind
UN World Water Day, 22nd March, is about tackling the water crisis by addressing the reasons why so many people are being left behind. Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6) aims to ensure availability and sustainable management of water for all by 2030.
One in four primary schools have no drinking water service, with pupils using unprotected sources or going thirsty. Around 159 million people collect their drinking water from surface water, such as ponds and streams.
The Prem Rawat Foundation’s Food for People project has been running since 2006 and vast improvements are happening in those communities. School enrolment and attendance has improved, children no longer need to work all day for food or leave school hungry, and standards of hygiene have risen both at school and in the home.
Find out more on The Prem Rawat Foundation’s website here.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
12th March 2019
PEACE PARTNERS CHARITY WELCOMES LOTTERY FUNDING TO HELP WITH PEACE PROJECTS
Peace Partners charity is pleased to announce that it has received almost £10,000 of National Lottery funding for its Peace Education Project.
The money will be used to work with community and youth organisations to run Peace Education Programme (PEP) workshops. The objectives of these interactive workshops are for participants to understand the possibility of personal peace, to become aware of their own inner resources such as hope and choice and to recognise their innate value. The themes of the workshops are: Peace, Appreciation, Inner Strength, Self-Awareness, Clarity, Understanding, Dignity, Choice, Hope and Contentment.
The PEP has been running at Thameside Prison since 2015 and a frequent comment from course participants is that it should be more widely available. “If I had known about this when I was younger, I might never have ended up here.” Peace Partners wants to make the workshops available to individuals in the wider community irrespective of religion, age, gender, or any particular issues they may be experiencing, eg. homelessness, imprisonment, poor mental health.
Peace Partners aims to run at least 3 PEP courses (30 Workshops) partnering with other organisations, including Celebrate Life Events who have recent experience in this area. There have been several community pilots of the PEP including the Sutton Adult Education College, Matthews Yard Community Centre, Croydon and the Angell Town Community Centre in Brixton “This is exactly the solution to the problem in our community.” (Mary - Angell Town Community Centre, Brixton) “Excellent programme, highly recommend it.” (Jacqueline - Angell Town Community Centre, Brixton).
Juli Hammersley, Director of Peace Partners says: “We are absolutely delighted that the Lottery have awarded us these funds. This is excellent news for our charity, and will allow us to plan, deliver and expand the Peace Education Programme throughout the UK. We are very grateful to National Lottery Players for this award, which will help us to develop the scheme and reach more people. Peace Partners has been working closely with communities affected by gang violence in South London and this is an area where we’d particularly like to facilitate and run the Peace Education Programme. I’d also like to appeal to members of the wider community, youth leaders and organisations working with vulnerable and community projects, to talk to us about becoming involved, and find out more about setting up this programme. The funding will enable us to create activities that will reach into communities and make a real difference to people’s lives".
NOTES FOR EDITORS:
• Peace Partners website is available at: www.peacepartners.co.uk
• You can find our more about the PEP here: www.peacepartners.co.uk/peaceducationprogramme
• The Angell Town PEP video is located at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Y3OJODrcZs
• Peace Partners also works with The Prem Rawat Foundation (TPRF) on a Food for People (FFP) programme and works on humanitarian projects such as clean water and hygiene education for affected communities.
** FURTHER VIDEO CLIPS WILL BE POSTED HERE AS THEY BECOME AVAILABLE **
This event was a follow-up to the Waves of Change event (held at last summer's Festival of Peace) and took place in Croydon, on Saturday 23rd February 2019. It provided an opportunity for young people, community workers, those interested in the Peace Education Programme, and various local organisations to come together collaboratively to move forward to establish peace in their lives and the lives of those they work with.
This collective, insightful and thought-provoking event included a keynote address by Shaniqua Benjamin, the local founder of ‘Youth Insight’, who spoke about her work with youths in her community; an introductory workshop about the Peace Education Programme; a workshop with the Bedrocks Books Reading Group and a workshop run by young community leaders Mark Murray and Kheron, from ‘Ubuntu Roundtables project’, who work with young people at a youth centre in Camberwell, London.
Opening poem (4mins) Full keynote address (15mins)
Interview with attendee from Soroptimist UK Errol McGlashan presentation
Bedrock Books workshop Interview with Ella Matheson, Tutu Foundation UK
Youth Futures Workshop part 1 Youth Futures Workshop part 2
.Interview with Shaniqua Benjamin, founder of Young Peoples Insight
Some Responses from Event Attendees
"Wonderful day - very inspiring - thank you"
"Thank you for bringing your enthusiasm, care, compassion to the event. You are doing great work." (on Tutu/Youth Futures)
"It was an exceptional day and the two young men running this workshop were awesome, in the true sense of the word...." (on Tutu/Youth Futures)
"It was a wonderful day - Bedrock Books was great - big thank you to you and Lesley."
"Really enjoyed the Bedrock Books reading group today at Peace Partners."
"It is really encouraging to see how passionate you are about bringing such a vibrant community together. I am still buzzing from the event and all the positive contributions. Absolutely a day to remember for time to come."
"Thank you to all our guest speakers, workshop facilitators, MC, guests, volunteers who made this event so inspiring, humorous, informative, touching, kind, compassionate and insightful. A great day for peace and bringing about change! Thank you to: Shaniqua Benjamin, Youth Futures, Tutu Foundation UK, Lesley Cooper, Project B, Mary Dalgleish, Wallee McDonnell"
Juli Hammersley, Director Peace Partners
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.
Nick Crabb, a Peace Partners volunteer living in Japan, recently interviewed Max Whittle, an integral member of the Kifubon project since its inception. We are very pleased to present Nick’s interview in full. Following the interview is some information about Kifubon in the UK.
To help create a culture of empathy and compassion, the Kifubon Project has now donated over 15,000 books to a variety of settings in Japan and the rest of the world. I spoke to Max Whittle about the Kifubon Project, how it is run and the challenges it has faced.
Hi Max, what does "kifubon" mean? And what does it mean to you?
Well, "kifubon" can be translated into the sharing of books in a society, and I suppose the theme of the Kifubon Project is the sharing of knowledge that's of value to humanity as a whole. Bunya publishing, who run the project, have the motto of "books for 100 years". The project therefore focuses on books with long-lasting messages of peace that people will still want to read even as times and technologies change. The project takes books that have value and creates a system for sharing them. People who enjoy one of the project's books can pay for one or several books to be donated to schools, hospitals, prisons etc., and help spread the book's message of peace. One book can stay where it's donated for decades and have a huge reach. For example, over 15,000 books have been donated in total, with about 30 to 40 people reading them, so hundreds of thousands of people have benefited from these books.
Could you tell us about the author of these books?
Prem Rawat, who is a peace activist that has addressed international audiences of over 15 million people and who's talks have been translated into over 75 languages. Prem's message has touched me personally and had a positive effect on my life. He has been travelling for more than 50 years, and I have travelled with him and seen how busy his schedule is. It has been Prem's quest to educate people about peace and how it's a daily choice we each have to make so we can all live in a kinder world. The Kifubon Project is another avenue for Prem to spread his message.
What are these books about?
Splitting the Arrow, which is titled "Peace is Possible" in the UK, was the first book Bunya publishing produced with Prem. This book contains short quotes and stories, and teachings from Prem's addresses through the years. The opening short story is called the Pot with the Hole, which was so popular it became a standalone book and animation.Of course everyone has their own interpretation, but for me, the core message of these books is that peace is not about countries coming together and signing a treaty etc. Instead, peace is something that manifests within a person. When this happens, the person needs an understanding and awareness that they are experiencing a feeling of well-being, of harmony and of things being right. However, this only sets them up, and they still have to choose to be more kind to others. Making this choice allows them to share their peace, not by them preaching, but by their mood and their positive effect on other people. If you scale this up, then hopefully you achieve more harmonious schools, workplaces, societies, countries and even planet. You cannot start from the planet and scale down with treaties. In the times we are living in, achieving peace of any kind can seem impossible, so we need to concentrate on ourselves and what we can do to bring ourselves to a peaceful and harmonious state. This is not an easy task, but it's not an impossible one.
How can people donate money to the Kifubon Project? How does the process work in Japan?
Originally, Bunya publishing received donations mainly from within Japan, but also from outside, via the Kifubon homepage. There are now other Kifubon projects that have taken up the mantle in different countries.
In Japan, books are donated to hospitals, prisons and orphanages, as well as nurseries, schools, high schools and universities. In particular, boards of education have ordered large numbers of books, as they consider the messages of empathy, compassion and mutual understanding to be part of their curriculum. Further, bullying is a huge problem in Japan, with bullies and those bullied lacking a level of comfort and respect for themselves. We have sent books to schools across Japan, and in many cases received messages of thanks from them.
Sending books to so many places sounds like a massive undertaking. How is the project structured and run?
The set-up is simple with Bunya publishing running a website for the two books, Splitting the Arrow and the Pot with the Hole. People can then donate the books to institutions, as well as suggest new institutions or avenues for the project. Bunya have a warehouse for storage and an internal communication network to send books where they are needed. Bunya publishing also have a PR representative when sending the books to new places or institutions.
What kind of challenges has the Kifubon Project faced?
At the beginning of the project, there was a lot of red tape. Of course you cannot just send books into an education system or prison. You need permission, at the very least from the people running the institution and sometimes from the government itself. In Japan, our PR representative visited the board of education and those running prisons in the government to get approval. We've since used this process for all the institutions that we send books to. Once in place, the process is relatively simple.
Another challenge is that Bunya publishing has to package and send thousands of books, while also making a profit and ends meet. However, we receive letters thanking us for the books. We received one such letter from a person in prison, who could not see a way out and had lost hope and the will to live. They saw a blue book in the library and took it from the shelf. As they read the book, they became filled with hope. They then signed up for an Inner Peace class, where, by coincidence, they saw a video of Prem Rawat giving teachings on peace. For the first time in a long time, they breathed some hope. Letters like these are our reward for the whole system working, and make everything worthwhile.
That's a very moving story, and I'm glad that some of the peace comes back to you and the great work you do. Thank you very much for your time Max.
In the UK the Kifubon project is called Bedrock Books. So far nearly a thousand books have been donated to prisons, family refuges and children's hospitals in the UK. The new title 'Peace is Possible' (an English language version of Splitting the Arrow) will be published in the UK in the summer of 2019. Prior to publication and once published, there will be several ways to support the UK Kifubon project. To find out more write to email@example.com.
If you would like to donate one or more copies of this forthcoming book via the Kifubon project, you can do so now as Bedrock Books will be pre-ordering copies of the new title. Please go to the funding page for Bedrock Books.
Find out more about UK Kifubon projects here.