The Ubuntu Roundtable Project aims to help young people meet with local police officers to discuss issues of concern in their area. ‘Ubuntu’ is a traditional Southern African philosophy that emphasises our common humanity, our connectedness and interdependence as fellow human beings. Here Nick Crabb talks to Mark Murray, Blair Adderley and Kheron Kenardo about this unique project and their reflections from it on gang culture and knife crime in the UK today.
What made you start the Unbuntu Roundtable Project?
Mark: My brother, my friend Blair and me were walking through Brixton one night, where we grew up, when police officers jump suddenly jumped out of a van, man handled and slammed us against the wall. I just remember this horrific, negative feeling of oppression, like I was a victim or a target. They'd stopped us us for various reasons, and none of them added up. The way they talked to and treated us was horrific as well. I couldn't understand why I was treated this way, because I don't act in a rash or a negative way. This got me thinking about how many other young people go through this regularly and young people don't like the police. However, I also knew that not all police officers acted this way, or pushed negative agendas or abused their power. So I thought there needed to be some way of showing that not all police officers are hostile, and that not all young people are criminals. I wanted to find a way to teach this to both sides, and in turn enable both sides to learn from each other.
Kheron: I've also felt wrongly accused and tense towards the police. I've also been around a lot of other people with similar feelings, including law-abiding young people who have gone to school and done everything right, yet still hate the police. I was grateful to be part of this project and the conversation about why this tension exists and what we can do about it.
What did you hope to achieve with Roundtable Project?
Mark: For it to be a place where people are on an equal footing, can meet and learn about each other and have their thoughts and views represented. We wanted it to be a place of experience-based learning and knowledge sharing.
Kheron: To break down the social barriers between young people and police officers, break down the tension, and make a more cohesive and calm community. We also wanted to strip away the layers of prejudice from young people and police officers, and for them to have human-to-human conversations.
Blair: To create a sense of unity between young people and police officers, so they can see each other as people. Hopefully, this will reduce the incidence of crime and alleged police brutality. Also, for young people know their rights when dealing with the police, and to transfer this project to different walks of life, such as education.
How did the project start, and where is it now?
Mark: Our first Roundtable was at a youth club in Camberwell. There were young people from the community and police officers sat together for the first time. The tension in the room was incredible. The young people were so open and didn't hold back. The police officers were told some astounding things that night, and they knew they were there to learn and not enforce. Similarly, the young people felt they were in a situation where they could talk to and understand the police officers.
Blair: At first, the Roundtable was more of meeting to discuss the viewpoints of young people and police officers. Now, the Roundtable is a programme consisting of training sessions and two Roundtable sessions. It's become more structured, and we do a range of exercises to pull opinions out of young people and police officers.
Mark: The Tutu Foundation also became involved, which helped the Unbuntu Rountable Project take shape. Now, we first meet police officers and youth service providers, such as youth clubs and schools, and explain the programme and process. We then get people to sign-up, set a date and explain the Unbuntu core values. There are then two Roundtable meetings. The first is more hard hitting and focused on confronting the key issues in an area. The second is more relaxed and focused on bonding, with role-plays and drama. We then follow up after three months and run more roundtables if needed. These workshops have moved out ten boroughs in London, involving many different young people, police officers and issues. We are now expanding to the Midlands.
What have the outcomes of the Roundtable Project been so far?
Kheron: What people take away tends to be interpersonal and varies from person to person. Most people say they've learnt something new. It has shown that younger people can teach older people, such as police officers saying they now understand the stigma currently facing young people. Similarly, young people have said that they would now like to be police officers. Young people also have learnt that they have a voice and the power to change their communities.
Mark: The project has provided a safe space where young people and police officers can have an enriching conversation. Police officers have begun to understand that young people may enter crime due to peer pressure, family circumstances, not having parents at home, and then take a more measured and mindful approach. The project has also made young people think about their sense of responsibility in the community and encouraged them to co-operate with police officers. This has strengthened the relationship between police officers, young people and youth service providers.
Blair: We've had police officers say that they didn't know how hard it is being a young person today, and how scared they are. While we've heard young people say that they didn't realize police officers are real people. We've had young people who didn't even want to be in the same room as police officers, saying that they'd like to join the police. A greater understanding is the greatest outcome you can ask for. We also did a Roundtable session in a school and teachers said they now want to hold similar sessions between students and teachers.
Has the Roundtable Project encountered any challenges?
Blair: The main challenge is getting young people who've offended and who don't like the police to come. We also have to get young people to talk anecdotally, so they don't incriminate themselves. We also have to stop police officers from asking certain questions, remind them that this isn't an investigation and get them to hand their authority to the facilitator.
Kheron: I'd say mitigating both parties' preconceptions, and having an uncomfortable conversation about prejudice and the effect it's had on us over the years. As lot of this prejudice is based on the news, stories and what people have heard from others rather that our own experience. One of the greatest challenges was to create open-mindedness between the two parties.
How did you solve these challenges?
Mark: We have a series of activities that help people open up, breakdown their barriers and bond by discussing local issues and topics. An example is "speak and truth", where everyone has to take off their young-person's or professional's hat and be honest. We have seen police officers disagreeing with each other and agreeing with young people and vice versa. When people have to stand with whom they agree, you often see young people and police officers standing next to each other on either side of the room. So people are compartmentalized by their commonality instead of their prejudice.
Blair: We have youth facilitators, who we incentivise by giving them a paid apprenticeship and responsibility. These young people really want to seize this opportunity, more than older people, and they do an outstanding job.
Kheron: The youth facilitators have been trained in the Unbuntu values, such as listen to understand and don't listen to respond, respect everyone and treat them like a human being, allow everyone to have a say, take responsibility, challenge anything inappropriate and to hold others to account. These values are important in establishing that this is not an arena where we attack anybody. So the youth facilitators challenge the young people over their language and the police officers over their approach or way of conveying a message. In turn, young people then correct other young people and police officers do the same, stripping away any "us versus them" mentality.
Mark: Participants have also offered their own solutions to diffusing tension. From smiling more and being mindful that your facial expression that may be based on a negative, preconceived ideas, to having events to celebrate the achievements of young people and police officers, community events and games between young people and police officers.
What are your hopes for the Roundtable project?
Mark: We'd like to get to a point where the project is self-sustaining. So we can train young people and communities to set-up and run the Roundtable sessions themselves around the country. We also have the goal of making this international and bringing it to places like the US, where there are serious issues with policing.
Based on your experience with the Roundtable project, what are your reflections on gang culture and knife crime in the UK today?
Mark: I have mixed feelings, knowing friends and family who grew up in gangs and and seeing the consequences. Sometimes, it's never as black and white as "don't be in a gang". Sometimes, if you're not in a gang, you're still a victim of gang crime. I want to tell young people to not join gangs and focus on school, but that's not the reality. The reality is that when you leave your house you can be a victim or a target. It's very unfortunate the state we're in and that young people do the things that they do. But telling young people not do it isn't the solution. We need to incentivise young people not to join gangs.
A huge part of the problem is of course financial. Growing up in an environment where you don't have a lot is going to make you more likely to end up in a gang. Living standards are key, and a huge part of gang culture for me is poverty. Another part of the problem is the media. There are a lot of young people doing positive things in their community that isn't reported. The media focuses too much on the negative aspects of young people, so they don't believe that there are good things out there for them. If the media focused more on the positive, then it may encourage young people to take part in positive activities in their communities.
We need to focus on a positive agenda more. Taking things away, like their music, just gives young people another reason to be angry at the world. We need to create more ways to help young people develop. In Sweden, they're closing down prisons, because they've focused on reforming and helping people. I think we're lacking this in our society. It's easier to say they're a criminal and throw them in jail than to say they're someone who needs help.
Blair: As you know, we have a huge knife crime epidemic in the UK right now. People dying left, right and centre, and I don't think it's being dealt with correctly. In the government's eyes, the answer to more people carrying knifes is more police officers carrying guns. To create a police presence when the police are already understaffed, instead of preventative measures. Glasgow had a huge problem with knife crime, and they treated it as a problem related to health, not only crime. They used early rehabilitation, created more opportunities for people to find work and looked at education, mental health and the circumstances of each individual. A lot of the problems we're facing now are down to a lack of financial opportunity. I have a lot of friends who are now either not with us or in prison. Many have never had the opportunity to get out. Many feel like London is now a war zone. What you see now is that innocent friends or family who are in the same photo as a gang member are being targeted via social media, hunted down and stabbed. Similarly, you hear about people who've left their location on or were live streaming falling victim to stabbing attacks.
Knife crime in Glasgow was labeled as a community problem, but in London it's a black problem. I find this hard to stomach, and for me it's mostly a financial problem. It now takes six months to get referred to mental health services on the NHS in London. Wealthier people can obviously pay for private health care. Universal credit and benefits makes this problem even worse. Giving people a month's worth of money and expecting them to manage it when they've not received a monthly salary for years, if ever. It's like throwing meat in a lion's den and telling the Lion the meat has to last them a whole month. Rented council houses are another problem, why would you rent to someone who is struggling to pay rent when you can sell with London house prices? I understand the economic arguments, but there are humanitarian issues at stake. It all hinges on lack of opportunity. If we focused on preventing the real causes of gang culture and knife crime then we'd really solve the problem and we wouldn't have to spend tax payers' money on trying to treat the symptoms.
If you are interested in the Ubuntu Roundtable Project, then please visit:
Video excerpts about the project from Peace Partners' recent Waves of Change Workshop:
Several Peace Partners volunteers attended the Summit. This is a personal report by one of them:
Earlier this month I was very pleased to be invited to the Fourth Annual Desmond Tutu International Peace Summit, a day long conference and forum held on a sunny spring day in the beautiful oasis of the Regent’s University campus, situated in London’s lovely Regents Park, though just a stone’s throw from the full hustle and bustle of the UK capital.
The Summit’s theme was ‘’Hate: causes , consequences and cures”. The introductory keynote was a conversation between Michael Palin, documentary maker and member of the Monty Python comedy team, and the broadcaster Carole Stone. Michael remarked on the unfailing generosity of ordinary people in North Korea, where he had travelled recently. The contrast between this grassroots reality and the current political tensions associated with the country could not have been more stark. Each themed session, two in the morning and two in the afternoon, consisted of a chairperson and three or four panellists, with each panellist then giving a short talk, with a final period for questions and discussion from the floor. The talks were from a variety of well informed professionals, academics and activists, including Peter Taylor, well known for his reporting on Northern Ireland, the MP Andrew Mitchell, and Nomatemba Tambo, the South African High Commissioner to the UK. The closing keynote was given by Shaun Bailey, who as Conservative candidate for the next Mayor of London election is aiming to be the city’s first black Mayor.
I had attended last year’s Summit and remembered how inspired that day had left me feeling. What on the surface could have been a serious and dreary debate (about providing mediation in severe conflict situations), became something much more enlightening: if the principles of conflict resolution can be understood at a person to person level, why can they not be applied at collective and social levels as well. Again this year I felt the same way. The conference seems to be uniquely valuable in addressing how public crisis and conflict situations, such as those today in Syria and the Middle East and in parts of Africa, are also personal crises where the level of anger and hate spills over into a violence that is catastrophic for both its victims and perpetrators.
I was especially inspired by the second session in the afternoon 'Youth and Gang Gun and Knife Violence - Hate Crimes'. The contributions from Natalia Morgan - an eloquent 17 year old - and Mark Murray from Youth Futures spoke powerfully from their own experience of knife crime, and their naturally urgent response seemed to speak directly to the audience, many of whom commended the personal initiatives taken by these two young people. Without expressly trying to achieve it they seemed to articulate clearly the very human message of Ubuntu espoused by Desmond Tutu.
At lunchtime in the courtyard the sun was still beating down, it must have been one of the warmest days of the year to date. I was able to meet up with my fellow volunteers from Peace Partners who were attending, and a very enjoyable and inspiring lunch ensued, including spending some time with Ella Matheson, one of the trustees of the Tutu Foundation, and someone closely involved with the Ubuntu Roundtable project (highlighted in Peace Partners' recent Waves of Change Workshop).
The Tutu Foundation UK was set up to use and promote the idea of Ubuntu in the UK because “Ubuntu encourages us to recognise our common humanity, our connectedness and inter-dependence as fellow human beings. It emphasises what we have in common rather than our differences." ... " Desmond Tutu explains it like this ‘We believe that a person is a person through another person, that my humanity is caught up, bound up, inextricably, with yours. When I dehumanise you, I inexorably dehumanise myself.' “
Walking through the surrounding park on my way home the sun was still shining. I found myself reflecting on the truth of Ubuntu, and feeling that to be an effective actor on any level: personal, communal or wider, I really needed to know my own humanity; only then could I recognise the humanity in others. Some will take this as a simple truism, but in my view it contains the kernel of a real wisdom. In a different tradition, and many years ago, Socrates taught that a city state could only be truly governed wisely when the governors themselves possessed wisdom! The personal work to reject anger and accept tolerance can be challenging, and is ongoing, but the rewards are wonderful: being able to see and connect with someone else just as yourself, an individual person. This message has an incredible potential.
To say it again, I was extremely appreciative of the invitation to attend this year’s Peace Summit. Although it had been quite a long and tiring day I wasn’t concerned: for now the most important kind of sunshine was shining, the sunshine in my life and in my heart.
Written by Robin Watkins
On a chilly evening in late March, twenty two people from all over West Cornwall came along to the first of the PEP workshops held in Penryn, near Falmouth. For most of the attendees this would be their first opportunity to hear Prem Rawat speak.
Following the very successful screening of the documentary film, `Inside Peace` in February, attended by more than sixty people, the local team had been busy planning and arranging a follow up PEP. It was decided to hold the workshops at the Fish Factory, Community Arts Space, which is frequently used to host other events and which has a strong local following. In addition to advertising the PEP by the usual means of leafleting and posting, it was also promoted on the Eventbrite local event-hosting platform which, it was hoped, would attract the attention of a much wider audience.
This proved to be a positive move, and almost fifty people registered an interest in attending the workshops. As with all advertised `free` events it is never clear until the day how many will actually turn up, but the team were delighted to see so many enthusiastic people arriving.
Despite the unexpected intrusion of noise from a Zumba dance class two floors above, there was a real buzz after the first workshop and people stayed afterwards to chat and have coffee. There were comments such as: ‘I wish I had known about this years ago, I’m surprised I haven’t come across it before now,’ and ‘I’d like to listen to him every day when I wake up in the morning, it would set me up for the day!’
After an explanation, the woman running the dance class upstairs kindly agreed to hold her class earlier so that it did not interfere with people’s enjoyment and ability to concentrate. In fact, she was interested enough to offer to promote the PEP through her own classes.
Numbers attending the PEP have declined, as happens for a variety of reasons, but a core of enthusiastic attendees have continued their regular attendance. One of these regulars has expressed an interest in putting on the PEP for her employees as part of the `health and wellness` programme in her company.
The team had this heartening response by email from another attendee:“ I so enjoyed the evening. The videos were absolutely amazing and the way they followed on from each other introducing Prem's work was great. The PEP people obviously worked extremely hard to get it right”.
The PEP workshops will continue weekly on Wednesday evenings until the end of May.
written by Alan Plummer
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: