Young advocates for peace

Young advocates for peaceIn the Lancashire mill towns of Brierfield and Nelson, International Alert is training young people in a diaspora community affected by conflict at home and abroad, to be peace advocates.

The activities are part of our EC-funded “Promoting Positive Voices in Diaspora Communities” project, which is designed to develop best practice and understanding in how to best engage diaspora communities in peacebuilding and development issues and processes in their countries of heritage.

Since January Alert’s partner, Lancashire Global Education Centre (LGEC), has been working with a group of ten girls and ten boys aged 14-15 to understand the personal, local and global aspects of conflict and development issues in both their local community in the UK and their communities of heritage in Pakistan.

After working with the local community to identify on-the-ground issues and needs, as well as the most likely audience to be able to inspire real change and action on development issues, LGEC has been working with third-generation young people from three family “biraderi” clans – in conflict in Pakistan and the UK – through global youth work activities.

In June Alert’s Lucy Holdaway participated in a course called “Deepening Understanding, Promoting Positive Change”, held at a residential outdoor activity centre high on the Lancashire moors. The course deepened learning on conflict and development issues, and trained the young people in project-leading and team-building (through activities such as trust games, night-time orienteering and canoeing), as well as in radio interviewing techniques (delivered by BBC Asian Network) and campaigning. Lucy delivered training in conflict transformation, thus starting the young people’s journey to becoming advocates for peaceful change. The participants said: ‘We learnt from Lucy the stages of aggression, how anger can be controlled, how to solve conflicts and how they can begin’.

In October this year all of the young people will be travelling to Westminster to engage in dialogue with officials from the UK’s Foreign Office and Department for International Development (DfID), and with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Conflict Issues. LGEC’s Global Youth Work Coordinator Stuart Wroe says: ‘There is a very real sense of the progression for this group, from a motivated but uninformed and inexperienced group, to local campaigners, lobbyists and global activists’.

This project is carried out with the financial assistance of the European Union. The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of International Alert and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union.