London’s annual 7 / 7 commemoration ceremony at funding risk
February 22, 2014 | Nick Taylor
The annual commemoration ceremony that takes place at each anniversary of the London 7/7 attacks is at risk due to Government and local authorities unwillingness to fund the event.
Every year, families and survivors gather at the Hyde Park memorial to commemorate the anniversary of the 7th July 2005 (7/7) London bombings.
The ceremony brings together people from the city and beyond for a commemoration including readings from those affected, the laying of flowers and a minutes silence observed in memory of those who lost their lives, those injured and those affected by the bombings.
The ceremony is organised by the Foundation for Peace but the charity has been unable to get a department of state to take accountability to fund support for victims of terrorism and to help sponsor such an event. The charity also experienced a similar lack of support from the Mayor of London’s office.
Nick Taylor, Chief Executive of the Foundation is urging Prime Minister, David Cameron and the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson to personally intervene: “All of the support structures such as the Humanitarian Assistance Unit, the bereavement service, social media groups provided in the wake of the London bombings have now closed down and only the Foundation is continuing its support.
“Commemorations are a vital aspect in helping those affected recover and cope and the City of London must never forget this tragic event and the consequences it still has on the lives of hundreds of people.
“Other global cities such as Madrid and New York are leading the way in this regard and as a world capital city, London must take immediate action to ensure it looks after the victims and not let them become lost within social, welfare and health care.”
The Foundation met with Sir Edward Lister, a deputy Mayor, but was told that as a ‘forward thinking city’ London needed to ‘move on’ and look forward rather than back. Whilst we agree with the need for London to be a leading global city, the city has a duty of care to those who were caught up in the horrific incidents in July 2005. Many are still suffering with at least two having had serious operations in recent months relating to their physical injuries and deep psychological effects still apparent in many people nearly nine years on.
Last year, 2013, the Mayor paid for flowers to be laid at the memorial but the Foundation is asking that a Government department is given accountability to fund the ongoing work of the Foundation and that the Mayor of London commits resources to support future commemoration ceremonies. It has written to both leaders to ask for an urgent meeting and for funding to be identified.
The Foundation for Peace The charity was founded nearly 19 years ago by Colin and Wendy Parry following the Warrington bombing that killed 12-year-old Tim and three-year-old Jonathan. In the early days the charity delivered two programmes in Johnathan and Tim’s memory which were basically about fostering understanding between young people particularly with an emphasis between Ireland, Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
The dream to create a ‘living memorial’ was realised in 2000 with the creation of the international Peace Centre in Warrington, Cheshire.
In 2001, the Government (Northern Ireland Office – NIO) commissioned a study and the Foundation was asked to deliver this working with other Non Governmental Organisation’s (NGOs) and the likes of the NHS. The study looks at the consequences of the Northern Ireland (NI) ‘Troubles’ on GB victims. The report was adopted by Government in 2003 with six years of funding provided by the NIO, to commission the Foundation to develop a programme (Survivors for Peace) for those victims.
Following 9/11 and 7/7 and other incidents impacting UK citizens, the ‘Survivors’ programme was expanded to support victims of global terrorism regardless of conflict.
It is the only programme service of its like in GB and attracts worldwide attention. The Survivors work employs three people and operates from the Peace Centre in Warrington, Cheshire as well as in localities (e.g. London to support 7/7 victim community).
We hold about 500 people on our database at any one time. Funding ceases at the end of March 2014 and we have been unable to persuade Government or funders that this vital work should continue. We have issued redundancy notices to the employees (12 weeks until the end of April 2014) and this is publicly announced.
We have launched a public appeal although in a crowded ‘third sector’ this type of work is not the normal type of ‘charity’ and ‘good cause’ that attracts public giving – it is seen as a function of Government.
The cost of the programme is £150k per annum (£12k per month) which in an age of austerity is a challenge but is actually a very cost effective charitable programme and is providing a direct benefit to Government in directing those affected by terrorism and political violence away from health, social and welfare with indirect savings to ‘the Exchequer’ and in enhancing Government reputation.
Our biggest referrals are coming from the 7/7 attacks some nine years on – many of who are suffering terribly. Two back on operating tables as I write. One who learnt to walk after losing a limb now back in a wheelchair. Some suffering terribly with the psychological impacts. There is no other help other than ourselves and fall back onto society (NHS, welfare benefits, social care – at a cost of thousands).
New incidents. Last year 5400 citizens were killed in 8400 attacks around the globe – there is a terrorist incident on average once an hour. And our citizens are being killed, hurt or bereaved. Seven families lost loved ones in Algeria last January, six in Kenya in autumn. They are already approaching us asking for our assistance.
What we do for victims 1. Referrals come from many sources and we normally undertake some form of 1:1 initiation. 2. We form a ‘community of consequence’ network connecting people and often supporting them in advocacy or sign posting them to services such as those dealing with trauma or welfare. In essence we reduce social isolation, increase social participation and dealing with trauma therefore helping people reach their ‘normal’ lives and often helping them reduce dependency on expensive Government financed welfare, health and social services. 3. Assistance through a series of programme interventions that can range from storytelling, looking at aspects of conflict such as trauma, dialogue processes even through to creative activities. 4. Co-ordinating approaches to the likes of memorials and commemoration events (e.g. we handle the 7/7 annual event in the Royal Parks). 5. We also train emergency responders and other professionals in critical incident management. We are unique and we work with all sides including ex-combatants, the military, victims, survivors and those affected by any terrorism, war and/or political violence incident.
We pursue no cause such as justice, we are not faith or politically aligned and thus we are totally independent and work with all sides. We deliver nationally but also have use of our £3m residential and bespoke Peace Centre.
The Ceremony -Members of the public are invited to join the families where, after a minute’s silence various survivors speak about their experiences. Like in New York, the names of all those who died in the bombings are read aloud. A150-strong Rock Choir performs songs at the event. The ceremony closes with the laying of flowers. Speakers in 2013 (8th anniversary): John Taylor, father of Carrie Taylor from the Aldgate train, Thelma Stober, survivor from the Aldgate train, Janne van Wulffte-Palthe, survivor from the Edgware Road train, Tim Coulson, known as the ‘Angel of Edgware Road’ To find out more about the work of the Foundation log onto www.foundation4peace.org