Lancashire’s Community Champions meet at the Peace Centre

April 17, 2014 | Nick Taylor

On Saturday 12 April, the TIm Parry Jonathan Ball Foundation for Peace was delighted to welcome a group of Community Champions from Lancashire and members  of Lancashire Police who took part in a team building day designed to consolidate positive working relationships between a range of communities and police in the Blackburn with Darwen areas.

The day started with a session about the history of the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation and Peace Centre and how, out of terrible tragedy, a force for good has been created. The group were able to find out about the Foundation’s work and many expressed an interest in working with us in the future – some as survivors of conflicts in their own countries and others who felt the courses could further benefit friends and colleagues in their community.

The day went on to explore the topic of conflict and the methodologies that are used at the Foundation for Peace to encourage people to explore their own responses to conflict as well as learn new techniques for dealing with challenging situations. It wasn’t all serious though, there was also an abundance of laughter as people got involved in a variety of activities and laughed at trying out new ways of dealing with old situations.

We also held a ‘conversation café’ at lunch time, inviting people to eat with someone they didn’t know and choose some ‘conversational  food’ items provided on a prompt sheet,  to help develop a deeper understanding between people. The feedback about both food and chat was extremely positive, with all of us sharing something or finding out something new. One member of the Police said that he had found the conversations deeply humbling and was privileged that people had been so open about sharing their stories with him.

The day finished with an energetic consultation exercise designed to explore all the positives about Blackburn with Darwen, as well as acknowledging the challenges and the things that can hold us back in our work.

Feedback from the day was overwhelming: from marriage proposals, to love of food, to those who said it that the day had given them such a lift  that they felt they would be able to sleep well at night without needing their usual medication. The final word from one participant who said that for the first time in a long time, he had not been conscious of missing his family during the day – because he said, “we had all been like family to him” which we think sums up the power of what can be achieved in a place such as the Peace Centre.