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Temple 2015 | Peace and Reconciliation | Warrington to Derry~Londonderry

15/03/2015

Spring is a time that the natural world reminds us of the power of life. Trees and plants start to bud and blossom, species of animal such as sheep give birth. It is a season when the air seems clear, daylight lengthens, when we feel hope, optimism and renewal.

In 1993, Bridge Street in a northern English town, Warrington, reflected that spirit of hope. It was the day before Mothering Sunday and families were out shopping for presents. When the first bomb exploded all sense of the positivity of Spring was shattered. There was no warning. Shops evacuated, many people ran, some more curious came to look and then the second explosion came. Semtex in an enclosed bin creates a ‘grenade’ of enormous power and the shrapnel goes horizontally meaning children and lower limbs are those at greatest risk.

Johnathan Ball, aged three, died on the street. Tim Parry, aged twelve, took the full force of the blast – he didn’t stand a chance – his life support system was turned off five days later. Bronwen Vickers, a young mother had her leg in a position that shielded her four year old daughter Hannah and her 13-day-old baby, Harriet was protected by her pram. Bronwen lost her leg and over a year later her life. 54 others seriously injured and thousands affected.

The IRA activists were long gone and have never been caught. The global outcry was intense, from London to Dublin, thousands took to the streets united by a cry of ‘enough is enough,’ politicians and the protagonists couldn’t ignore it and Warrington is long remembered as a seminal moment in a peace process that continues to this day.

There was anger and confusion, but from early days there was a spirit of questioning, a search for answers and a desire not to seek revenge, justice or retribution but rather to look at how reconciliation could take place so no other person would face this experience.

That desire for reconciliation became a search for peace and the boys became a symbol of that activity, stimulating Warrington organisations from choirs to faith groups to newly formed charities to sporting clubs – joining together in a spirt of enterprise and reconciliation to forward the cause of peace.

Some 22 years on, that peace movement is now a global force. At the heart of the town, Bridge Street remains as it was but is adorned with incredible public art and street furniture sculpted with the input of children and with a central ‘River of Life’ theme and waterfall feature, acting as a memorial and sitting at the scene of the incident.

Many organisations like faith groups, the local Council and the football club actively promote peace and reconciliation.

Two kilometres from the town centre stands the incredible Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Peace Centre. A large-scale building in its own grounds, constructed of wood and shaped like a dove. The Centre is a major facility with spaces for sport and art, residential facilities, cafes, restaurants and indoor and outdoors spaces used to deliver innovative projects and conferences.

The Foundation, set up in memory of the boys, has developed to be one of Europe’s leading conflict resolution and peace building specialists operating a United Kingdom Survivors Assistance Network supporting victims, survivors and those affected by terrorism, war and political violence. The Foundation also works across all areas of prevention and resolution of such violent conflict promoting dialogue, citizenship, violence prevention through to be being at the forefront of practice in countering extremism and de-radicalisation.

The basis of this work that now tackles contemporary conflicts as well as the legacy of the past came from the tragic and horrific incident twenty-two years ago and the learning from ‘the Troubles’ on our islands. That work of reconciliation and understanding between our countries and communities must never end.

Together, we must celebrate and respect our shared lives and cultures.

On a hill overlooking the city of Derry~Londonderry stands a structure called Temple. This is no ordinary building, as until a few weeks ago it didn’t exist, and like many other aspects of Spring, this extraordinary project is growing and taking shape alongside all the the elements of life and nature itself.

The Temple is part of a radical arts project by creative producers Artichoke with ‘Burning Man’ artist David Best.

Together with people from across the local community, a beautiful shared structure is being built that will soar up high before it is ceremonially burnt. Temple turns traditional associations with bonfire burning in Northern Ireland on their head.
The build and the burn is set to bring lifelong memories for the City, but Temple has a resonance and a legacy that goes much further. The grand structure is the artists, but its detail, story and narrative will be shaped by people from across Derry~Londonderry and beyond.

The building and the burn coincides with the twenty second anniversary of the Warrington bombing and the commemoration and reflection that goes alongside our renewed seasonal hopes for reconciliation and peace.

On Monday 16th March, a small delegation from Warrington will travel to the Temple. The delegation will consist of Warrington faith and community leaders, representatives of the Peace Centre and Harriet Vickers, the daughter of Bronwen and no longer the 13-day-old baby that survived the Warrington bombing, but a young woman now working full time for peace and reconciliation. They will carry with them a symbol of peace to place inside the structure and to represent our collective desire for peace. The symbol will combine two elements of life – water and earth. The earth represented by a frame made of branch cuttings taken from the Peace Tree. The tree was planted at the tenth anniversary of the Warrington bombing and every year on the anniversary day, water is brought from the River of Life memorial to the tree to coincide with the beginning of Spring and as the tree buds reflecting our renewed hopes. In the frame will be a picture of the Centre, set up in memory of the boys, and the home of inspirational work for peace globally; and also the continuing east west dimension of ‘the Troubles’ peace process. Water from the River of Life will be brought to Temple and mixed with water from Northern Ireland to symbolise how at our basic elements we are all as one of the same. These two symbols of hope and life – water and earth will be left in the Temple and then air and fire, the other two elements, will be added at the burn to create a symbolic desire for peace on our islands and beyond. The artists hope that the vision of Temple is that the combined experience of all inputs to Temple, and the thousands of hours that local volunteers will put into building it, creates a moving space for thought, reflection and contemplation.

When it burns all is renewed and revitalised in a shared experience for the City and beyond. Our visit and peace symbols of earth, water, fire and air, will be a part of that.

On the day of the burn our team will be working for peace in County Donegal, Ireland; leading an exercise with people from across our islands who have experienced severe trauma due to violent conflict. The group of about thirty people will attend the burn to act as witness to our hopes FOR PEACE.

Nick Taylor | March 2015 | additional words Artichoke

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Mankind: misnomer or call for action

15/03/2015

I was listening to the radio when I heard documentary-maker Leslee Udwin talk about her film ‘India’s Daughter’ and her decision to leave India.

The film, made to be screened on International Women’s Day – #womensday – reported on a violent and horrifying rape of a student that led to her death from the appalling internal injuries she suffered.

In it, one of those involved, Mukesh Singh suggests his victim would not have been killed if she had not fought back against her attackers and appears to blame her for not behaving like “a decent girl”.

He says: “When being raped, she shouldn’t fight back. She should just be silent and allow the rape. Then they’d have dropped her off after ‘doing her’, and only hit the boy.”

If ever a radio interview stopped me from moving and took my breath away it was this.

But there was worse, the lawyer defending this man defended and even promoted his actions by saying: “In our culture, there is no place for a woman.” The other lawyer said if his daughter or sister engaged in pre-marital activities he would take them to his farmhouse, and in front of my entire family, I would put petrol on her and set her alight.

All of this in India, a nation that likes to think of itself as civilised, a democracy and fast developing and accepted for the like of our business and investment. The response from the Indian Government – to ban the film, to silence the matter and to enforce the female documentary maker to flee the country for fear of arrest.

There are no words to describe how this made me feel. Words like horror, shame, anger and any other just don’t do justice to the brutality and evil being perpetrated by some men against women.

Leslee Edwin perhaps describes it best by saying: “My encounter with Singh and four other rapists left me feeling like my soul had been dipped in tar, and there were no cleaning agents in the world that could remove the indelible stain.”

The one word it did get me thinking about was ‘mankind.’ That word is a noun that is about human beings considered collectively – the human race and researching its synonyms throws up: the human race, man, humanity, human beings, humans, Homo sapiens, humankind, the human species, people, men and women.

In a past archaic form the word did also mean men, as distinct from women. But break the term down and you have two distinct and interesting words: ‘man’ and ‘kind.’ The latter used as an adjective means ‘having or showing a friendly, generous, and considerate nature.’

International Women’s Day is a celebration of women and their achievements. It is also a time when the injustice from the ‘glass ceiling’ and cases of inequality will come to the fore, where the terrible crimes against women can be highlighted but also the incredible ‘voice’ and roles women hold distinct from men.

For me, there is one thing everyone can do today – male and female – that is to reflect on what kindness to our fellow humans means and consider how best we can always be kind in its truest sense. It may appear a naive notion to hope that a nation state like India and its lawyers and Police and judiciary learn this, but its a sentiment we must work for, and there are examples of what can be done.

The organisation I work for, the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace, is undertaking a project called Women Building Peace. The project will today celebrate International Women’s Day by bringing together women from across the world, many of whom have faced violent conflict in their countries, communities and themselves personally. We will be helping them to ‘raise their voices for peace.’ It is only through all of mankind joining together to raise our voices and take action that we will bring about change.

Documentary maker Leslee Udwin is a brave woman that has done just that. She has used her film making skill at great personal cost to raise her voice and by doing so has done a great favour to women of the world in highlighting barbaric actions and attitudes of a number of males whilst also shaming those in power who sit impotent or worse condone such acts by their inactivity and cover ups.

Today, I will be part of International Women’s Day and my intention will be to display kindness as I want to show that the men that Leslee encountered will not win through and that we must challenge and stop this sort of attitude and behaviour.

If we all did just one thing for International Women’s Day then it would help immensely – maybe by just tweeting or putting an item on your Facebook you could help and use the hashtag #womenwagingpeace or maybe you want to do more – on our website is a donate page for just £10 we will provide a woman with our Language for Peace Handbook. If you e-mail my colleague jonathan.levy@foundation4peace.org expressing support then we will send you a special memento of this day.

Please support International Women’s Day and #womenwagingpeace

Nick

Nick Taylor is Chief Executive of the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace and on International Women’s Day will attend an event to support 40 women on the Women Bulding peace Project in looking at ‘raising their voices for peace.’ The views expressed in this article are that of the author only.

2014 a year in review

31/12/2014
Foundation for Peace Chief Executive, Nick Taylor reviews 2014
A year ago when I published a similar review of 2013, I could not have conceived of the sheer horror that violent conflict would bring to the world in the preceding twelve months.
The acronyms ISIL or is it ISIS or is it perhaps two words ‘Islamic State’ had not entered our public lexicon and places such as Syria, Iraq, Israel, Palestine and the Ukraine hardly gained a mention.  In fact, reading the list of the 53 US designated ‘foreign terrorist organisations’ issued in January, none of the above warranted a reference, demonstrating how fast the world of terrorism, war and political violence evolves.  2014 has changed so much in the global landscape and taken violent conflict to new levels not seen since the end of World War II.
The 2013 statistical index, documents 9,707 attacks worldwide. It was  8,400 in 2012. One every hour now one every 55 minutes.  These attacks resulted in more than 17,800 deaths (5,400 in 2012 so huge increase in fatalities) and 32,500 injuries.  The figures for 2014 will be worse still and many of the incidents will defy the statisticians.
There are constant reminders that our world is affected by violent conflict – as the year ends we are confronted by daily examples from a ‘lone’ attack on a coffee shop in Australia to mass killings of school children in Pakistan.  Brutal executions undertaken using the full power of social media to spread extreme ideologies had led to an upsurge in far-right politics and a test of tolerance of those who express more moderate views.
For the Foundation, we faced a far different challenge. Actually, proving our worth and continuing the existence of a key project became our focus.  Against the global background, how on earth could this be so?
We have no doubt our need is proven – this is a world in which conflict, often violent, is a real risk not just to human life, but to the very fabric of society in upholding freedom and democracy and in creating a stable economic and safe environment. Prejudice and discrimination needs to be challenged whether in our communities, schools, universities and prisons. There is no place for extremism or those who seek to radicalise vulnerable people. Our heath, social and welfare systems should not have to look after those affected, and the human cost – well that is just not something that we cannot tolerate.
In 2014, the Foundation has worked to address these very issues through our unique ‘For Peace’ programme that deals with the prevention, resolution and response to violent conflict – before, during and after.
Our year started mired in politics as we tried to save our flagship project, Survivors for Peace.  A unique offering assisting UK victims, survivors and those affected by terrorism.  It was many of these people who came to our aid to speak out and politicians from all sides of the political divide united to our support with questions being raised in the House of Commons and at Prime Minister’s Question Time.
In March, in the Chancellor’s budget statement, the Government agreed to fund the project for a year and George Osborne said: “I commit to finding for you a lasting solution to your funding issues.”  Survivors for Peace continues and the number of increased referrals, and all of our events this year over subscribed, confirm the great need for this work.  At the time of writing (31 December 2014) funding is not in place beyond March 2015, but the Prime Minister and Chancellor have offered their personal support and so it is hoped that in early 2015this vital project will be funded on a sustainable basis.  In addition, our great supporter the Irish Government, has commissioned work for us to look at the ‘east-west’ dimension of the continuing peace process on our islands.
We also put in place a new ‘Survivors’ team and have entered into other ventures such as a sponsored PhD collaborative studentship held by the Department of Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology at the University of Liverpool.  This three year studentship will focus on the consequences of terrorism for survivors of critical incidents.
We are not an organisation that just works with victims or to a specific agenda such as the pursuit of justice or aligned to a cause such as faith – we offer programmes and services that address violent conflict before, during and after. Our dimensions of work are prevention, resolution and response. But even that description does not demonstrate the uniqueness of our approach as it is in the ‘interface’ areas between those three dimensions that we make the real difference. For example, the bringing together of victims with ex-perpetrators, the use of dialogue not just as a process to help people recover but also in challenging communities to make positive changes and the use of leadership techniques in all areas of prevention and response – victims empowered to challenge and enable change. Our strategy provides an exciting vision and presents a unique ‘public benefit’ making a real difference to society.
Our Founders, Colin and Wendy remain active within the charity set up in memory of their son, and although Johnathan’s parents are no longer with us it was good to see his family involved in a number of our events.
We were visited by many people including the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Shadow Secretary of State for Health, the First Secretary to the Treasury and politicians from many of the political parties. We continue to co-Chair the European Union’s Radicalisation Awareness Network related to the PREVENT agenda (PREVENT is part of the EU and Government’s counter terrorism strategy). We continued to attend a number of EU representative bodies and groups and our team worked in many countries such as Somalia, the Lebanon, Canada, the United States, Ireland and across Europe. Politicians united in praise and the Prime Minister paid tribute to our work in the House of Commons.
We are grateful to many in the political sphere who worked hard for us not least David Mowat MP, Nick Bent, Ivan Lewis MP and Tessa Jowell MP.  And, in Northern Ireland, to the executive parties DUP, UUP, Sinn Fein, SDLP and the Alliance, who all came together in support of our work.  We also put on note our thanks to Secretary of State Theresa Villiers for convening a meeting which agreed in principle to remove jurisdictional funding barriers.
Our team increased in size from nine at the end of 2012 to 18 at the end of 2014.  Our charity is financially stable but the elusive goal of remaining sustainable is still a target we seek to achieve.
The media coverage throughout the year continued as they realised our expertise and ability to give independent and intelligent commentary on emerging events and significant issues.  We also increased our use of social media and will be making many changes and developments to our presence on the web in 2015 – all of our coverage was beneficial and factual.
For the second year running, in summer, we sponsored a young man called Scott who lost his dad in the attack on In Amenas in Algeria – he joined other people from around the world in New York to take part in a new programme aimed at young victims of terrorism.
The Mayor of London commissioned us to mange the commemoration of the ninth anniversary of the London bombings in Hyde Park.
Throughout the year we were supported by local fund raisers and volunteers who did everything from sponsored challenges to helping run aspects of the Peace Centre.  We also moved away from local fund raising to more nurturing of regular supporters and donors and launched a new society lottery and many other methods such as donations from retailers every time our supporters bought their shopping online.  The Centre received a makeover and huge support through the main north west John Lewis stores, their partner teams and supplier Halo.
Our international Peace Centre took in more bookings than ever with numerous groups using the facilities for residential stays, teaching and learning to conferences and seminars. National like-minded organisations such as Restless Development and the YMCA hosted events. Our local partner, Warrington Youth Club, continued to increase participation at their events and are a major contributor to the delivery of our charitable public benefit. And the NSPCC, co-owners of our building, celebrated their second year of operating from a new Service Centre in the building.
We launched two major projects.  Women Building Peace, funded by the European Integration Fund, started work in Blackburn, Oldham and Nelson and provides accredited qualifications for ‘third country national’ women in conflict resolution and peace building.
THINK is a project we launched in Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester working with young people, aged 14-19, who are potential young leaders.  The project helps them shape ‘thinking’ and influence their peers to prevent extremism.  Given the numbers of young people being influenced by the poison of extremism and the preventative nature of this project, we believe this could be a major pillar of peace building.  The project is financed by the Royal Bank of Scotland Group.
Our position of independence and neutrality means we received a number of commissions to work to facilitate dialogue in many communities.
All of these commissions  accelerated our work to a new level and the impact we make.
However, against this great progress, this has been a year of turmoil for the world.  The country threat level was raised and the Government has reacted by pushing a new Counter Terrorism and Security Bill through Parliament, that will most likely receive Royal accent in the coming weeks.  The bill is predicated on many security and punitive measures.  We have been vocal in our agenda that ‘prevention is better than cure’ and our campaign ‘for peace’ will become more pressing in 2015.
The media and politics is responding. This year was the European Elections and whilst the far right in this country, through the British National Party (BNP) and the English Defence League (EDL), lost their way, in Europe the emergent response to ‘Islamism” and the actions of the likes of ISIS, was to turn more to the right.  The emerging threat was from the agenda being captured by certain aspects of mainstream ‘tabloid’ media and UKIP, and others expressing views through a growing anti-immigrant line put forward by the main political parties as a response.
In the next few weeks we will publish our manifesto, not because we are changing our independent stance, but that we need to campaign ‘for peace’ in a far more robust way.  We have many answers to the questions being posed and it is time people understood that we can tackle pernicious agendas of radicalisation, extremism and violent conflict.  But it needs proper investment and support.
The end of the year signified an important development in Northern Ireland – it is exactly eleven years since we published ‘The Legacy – a study of the needs of GB Victims and Survivors of the Northern Ireland Troubles.’ The study concluded with 18 recommendations, many for Government – none of which were implemented and still remain ‘live’ issues. The needs of GB victims and survivors are ignored with a ‘hand off’ and ‘pass the ball’ approach between the British Government and Northern Ireland Assembly.
Last year on New Years Eve 2013 there was a lack of any conclusive outcome from the ‘dealing with the past’ talks after six months of work. This year the NI executive parties, Irish and British Governments did reach an accord via the ‘Stormont House Agreement.’  This document, yet to be fully studied, shows that progress to counter violent conflict and create peace can be made.  It also, significantly, contains two small sentences that show the Foundation is being heard and responded to.
Violent conflict is changing with our citizens at risk from global incidents and the Foundation is fast adapting to provide the new level of service that is needed. Again, there is no overall ‘owner’ and therefore a lack of accountability in Government.  There is no direct funding for our work or sustainability of such funds.
It is this challenge that takes us into 2015 – a New Year that we will hope will be peaceful and prosperous but in reality will continue to need our work to prevent, resolve and respond to violent conflict.  Please join us FOR PEACE.
Nick Taylor – Chief Executive
31 December 2014 – the Foundation for Peace in memory of Tim and Johnathan
peace, violence, conflict resolution, 2014, 2015, New Year, New Years Day, New Years Eve, year, year in review, politics, media, Government, Northern Ireland, Syria, Iraq, Ireland, Great Britain, GB, ISIS, ISIL, Islamic State, Far Right, UKIP, Labour, Conservative, SDLP, Sinn Fein, UUP, DUP, Alliance, coalition, manifesto, Stormont, EU, radicalisation, radicalisation, US, Canada, Somalia, victims, survivors, education, prisons, charity, charities, Foundation, accountability, service, funding, fund raising, BNP, EDL, Manchester, Liverpool, Blackburn, Nelson, Leeds, London, Mayor of London, London 7/7, Nick Taylor, CEO, Colin Parry, Wendy Parry, Tim Parry, Johnathan Ball, Peace Centre, Warrington, David Mowat, George Osborne, Nick Bent, Ivan Lewis, Tessa Jowell, MP, Great Sankey, EU elections

Appearance on BBC Sunday Politics

04/02/2012

I will be appearing on BBC Sunday Politics (North West) as a studio guest to promote Halite Energy Group’s plans to create the UKs biggest underground natural gas facility.

This project will be a major contributor to energy security but faces local objections.  I’d be interested to know what members of this group think as the project supports the national need and national planning energy/gas infrastructure policies, it also attracts major environmental enhancements in the area and has benefits for the local community and economy but, inevitably faces local protests.   Let me know your views (Watch BBC1 North West 11:00 GMT Sunday 5th February the regional section of this network programme transmits about half way through – please note BBC1 HD does not carry the regional output – if you are outside the region watch again via the BBC iPlayer)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b019cdpcImage

Shocking viral pulls no punches

22/09/2009

The NHS are pushing every boundary in adopting what must be one of the most graphic and shocking viral marketing campaigns in their quest to help people stop smoking.

WARNING – you should view this with caution as the images are disturbing.

read more and see the film at http://www.guardian.co.uk/users/bodyproject/clippings

‘Lamentable’ communication failures

03/05/2009

“…YouTube is no substitute for knocking on doors…”

Hazel Blears UK Communities Secertary

The Government’s communities secretary Hazel Blears has found herself in the headlines for describing the government’s communication efforts as lamentable.

Of course, Gordon Brown has been constantly lambasted whilst in office, often unfairly, and at times about his communication abilities.

I have had the pleasure of meeting both politicians. Gordon Brown was guest of honour at a dinner at a local further education college. This was prior to him being in government. He is a wonderful orator, demonstrated a very warm and funny character and the thing I always remember is how he engaged with the young people (catering students) and I hold him in the highest respect for that. Hazel chaired a meeting I arranged to discuss anti-social behaviour and again she was wonderfully engaging, came forward with incredible ideas and was very impressive.

So why is such a failure of leadership occurring?

Well my view is that the failures reflect two styles of leadership and that often under valued skills are in play, that of humility and the ability to put in place the right team. Often the most effective leaders are not the bold, egotistical confident characters that they portray. The best are those that are uncertain, need reassurance and will look for help.

I once worked with a leader who had psychological profiles undertaken on each of his directors and then those that differed from his were replaced. I know because I was one of those shown the door. Of course this then leads to a downfall as surrounding yourself with like types means that you get what you want to hear and you don’t get to hear what you need to as information is filtered. He lost his job within a short time.

Tony Blair personified the opposite and surrounded himself with very different types of characters and constantly looked for their opinion, reassurance. Alistair Campbell’s diaries highlight this type of leadership. The problem with Gordon is he sways between the two being a natural command and controlling type but also knowing he needs to flex this behaviour.

Hazel Blears is right but what will be interesting is how Gordon responds?

To find out how Bodyproject works as a ‘critical friend’ with business leaders to ensure performance, reputation and growth contact nicktaylor@bodyproject.co.uk

Catch It Bin It Kill It

01/05/2009

“…To prevent the spread of flu, when you cough or sneeze, catch it in a clean tissue, bin it and kill it by washing your hands as soon as you can…”

Advice from the Department of Health 2009

Bodyproject endorses seven rules of communication and has at rule one the age old saying actions speak louder than words. The Government’s new campaign, that responds to the emerging flu virus that is now nearing classification as a pandemic, utilises another rule – the rule of three with the clear message for action – catch it bin it kill it.

The campaign is huge appearing on multiple outlets from a mass door drop to all points advertising and any other channels available.  

This blog supports the initiative not just because of its serious intent but also that it is an exemplary communication with a clear and concise set of three messages that aim to provoke behavioural change and real action.

So please encourage everybody you know to catch it bin it kill it.

To find out more about the seven rules of communication contact Bodyproject.