Can you dream of a peaceful future for an inner London neighbourhood that, frankly, has its problems – and more than a few? But also has a big heart?
Some people can and International Alert, the organisation that I head, has been working with them. The result is a peace mosaic on our outside wall. This film tells you about it and why it’s there.
I have written before about the impact that the 7/7 London bombings in 2005 and the police killing of Jean Charles de Menezes two weeks later had on International Alert. Part of the impact was, of course, because Alert’s head office is in London; the impact on us was the same as for millions of others. But there were two further aspects to it.
The events got us thinking about taking what we know about peacebuilding in other countries and seeing if we could use it to help in the UK. And what made it so immediate for us is that De Menezes, wrongly identified as a terror suspect, was killed at Stockwell underground station, just five minutes’ walk from the office.
So in time we started working in our own neighbourhood, linking up with the Stockwell Partnership, which has been going since 1999. As part of that work we also cooperated with a community arts organisation, Art4Space, that also got going in 1999. They came up with the idea of working with young people to help them produce a mosaic to express a joint vision of their community and its possibilities – a dream of Stockwell.
Jean Charles de Menezes has been commemorated by a mosaic at the station.
It is of fundamental and enduring importance that we remember that tragedy and how it came about so the like may never happen again.
It is also important to dreams and hopes for a better future. So today there is a second mosaic. It is on our building, not far from de Menezes’ memorial. It is a mosaic that stands for the idea of a peace in our communities.
Dan Smith, Secretary General