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.
You may also be interested in this news item about an article in Homeless Diamonds Magazine.
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