WYSSS Belfast Launch – CONVERSATION – IT’S KEY TO NEW PEACE PROJECT
04 December 2009
A major cross-community project to help people discuss the legacy of the conflict in and about Northern Ireland was launched by Healing Through Remembering (HTR) in Belfast today.
The outreach programme, called ‘Whatever you say, say something’, will offer individuals and groups the chance over the next two years to begin difficult conversations with the help of a trained facilitator who will aid the dialogue. The aim is that individuals and groups will find it easier to engage on issues relating to the conflict.
Speaking about the new initiative, Kate Turner, director of Healing Through Remembering, said: “This project offers a new opportunity for individuals and groups to meet and discuss the difficult issues around how we deal with the past. Most importantly, it offers this opportunity in a safe environment, where people can ask questions and debate the issues that matter to them.
Healing Through Remembering’s Conversation Guide on Dealing with the Past, will be available to interested groups as a resource.
Ms Turner said: “The dialogue that takes place within the local communities, as part of this project, is important, not just for those participating, but also for all of society. How we deal with the past shapes the future, not only of this generation but also of those to come.
“This is why we’re encouraging people to take this opportunity to be part of facilitated discussions that meet their own local needs related to dealing with the past and remembering.”
Trained facilitators include: Joe Blake, who has worked in the voluntary and community sector for over 20 years; Will Glendinning, who has been involved in community relations and reconciliation work since the 1970s and Martin Snoddon, who has worked in a number of conflict zones throughout the world including the Balkans, Central America, Middle East and South Africa.
Mr Blake said: “These conversations will allow the difficulties of living through conflict to be acknowledged and for experiences to be shared. Some people have blocked out experiences, even everyday ones and have difficulty in discussing them, despite a desire to do so.
“Many feel that others are not interested in what happened to them. Dealing with the past allows their experiences to be shared with and acknowledged by others.”
The discussion groups and workshops will offer a platform for any groups and/or organisations – to feed their views into existing HTR projects as the organisation considers how society can build a more peaceful future.
Speaking about the existing projects and how this new initiative will help to shape the future, HTR board member Alan Wardle: “Healing Through Remembering has always said that there is no single treatment for the healing process in Northern Ireland, but we see this Peace III-funded project as forming an integral part of the process of remembering, reflecting, informing and educating.
“We are also meeting with political leaders, and key institutions and organisations including victims’ groups, NGOs, political parties, religious organisations, statutory bodies, ex-combatants, security forces, artists and performers.
“Links will also be developed with international organisations. This is a new opportunity for every voice to be heard and we are delighted to be launching the project today.”
For more information on the outreach programme, please contact Angus Lambkin at Healing Through Remembering on 028 9023 8844.
For a PDF version of the press release which includes notes to editors please click here.