To join the UN in marking International Day of Peace 2022, Initiatives of Change UK collaborated with the Little Big Peace Event, a Streatham based Festival that works to spread the idea and culture of Peace, and Celebrate Life, a Charity with a passion for the arts and combining them with a meaningful message, to host an evening reception, screening and spirited discussion that addressed the increasing rates of crime and violence breaking out on the streets of London.
During this important evening, we screened the new original film ‘Power to Change’, made by London-based Director Wendy Lewis, which follows the lives of five Londoners who have all been affected by knife crime. Since 2014, the UK has seen over an 80% increase in knife crime, with 10% of this staggeringly high number occurring in the last year alone. The film aims to uncover the source of these rising crime rates and show the resilience, hope and positive actions that people affected are taking to inspire positive change, both with immediate and longer-term impact. The film supports the work of the United Nations to create a world where compassion and empathy overcome suspicion and hatred and a world free of racism and racial discrimination.
Civic Mayor of Croydon, Councillor Alisa Flemming provided an address
Guests included peace advocates, members of Parliament and Ambassadors
Guest speakers included Civic Mayor of Croydon, Councillor Alisa Flemming, who shared how her own story of pain, resilience and peace: “For me personally, when we talk about the issues of knife crime and how it impacts families, I know first-hand about these experiences. My older brother was 17 years old when he was stabbed. He survived fortunately but that is not something every family of a victim can say. Croydon has the largest amount of young people in any London Borough and I was struck by some of the stats that came out in this film, particularly around the amount of young people involved in violence, known into the criminal justice system or in care. Croydon has, at this time, 450 young people who live locally in care and another 450 who are here seeking asylum and this brings lots of intensity and trauma that demands peace building work such as this.”
Margaret Cosens, Chair of IofC UK, welcomed guests to Greencoat Place for the first time after pandemic restrictions were lifted
MP Mike Kane, a member of the Labour Party for Wythenshawe and Sale East, gave an inspiring speech on how we must strive for relational power not coercive power
Guests also heard from the Chair of Initiatives of Change UK, Margaret Cosens, who extended a warm welcome to the first major event at Greencoat Place following covid restrictions and Councillor Mike Kane, a member of the Labour Party for Wythenshawe and Sale East and Trustee for IofC UK, who gave an inspiring speech that reminded listeners of how power is a gift from God and that we must strive for relational power not coercive power. The event was organised by Initiatives of Change UK’s Sustainable Communities Programme with the collaboration of other IofC’s programmes including: Creators of Peace UK, Refugees as Re-builders™ and Peace Begins at home.
Amina Khalid, Head of Initiatives of Change UK’s Sustainable Communities Programme and Peace Begins at Home spoke about the approach IofC UK takes to peace building: “Peace is not just the absence of war, it is a virtue, a state of mind and a disposition for justice. We are all living in a time of deep division, dis-unity and conflict in the world, on our streets, in our communities, and even in our families, and we must remember the Almighty will not change the condition of the people until they change what is in themselves. In the Q&A it was mentioned the importance of bringing young people to a space where they are able to give their own voice to be part of the strategic engagement at a local level with key stakeholders; we are creating these spaces through our Sustainable Communities Programme, bringing young people, parents, activists and those from the local government and politicians together.”
Amina Khalid, Head of Initiatives of Change UK’s Sustainable Communities Programme and Peace Begins at Home, spoke about the approach IofC UK takes to peace building
Celebrate Life’s Wallee Mc Donnell and Roni Redmond hosted the panel discussion with Wendy Lewis, Pastor Lorraine Jones-Burrell and Paul Bloomfield
Following the screening, Celebrate Life’s Wallee Mc Donnell and Roni Redmond hosted the panel discussion where panellists included: Film Director, Wendy Lewis, who detailed her experience of making the film, Pastor Lorraine Jones-Burrell who featured in the film and runs Dwaynamics Boxing Gym in honour of her son who she lost due to knife crime, and Paul Bloomfield, Global Communications and Public Relations for International Peace Advocator Prem Rawat.
Wendy Lewis, Film Director, stated: “We have attempted to tackle a very serious and sad subject but with a sense of hope, empowerment and insights into ways forward.”
Simi Solomon, Director of the Little Big Peace event, who brought along Labour MP for Streatham Bell Ribeiro-Addy and the founders of The Little Big Peace Event, provided details of the work she is part of which aims to build peace within communities: “The Little Big Peace Event is based in Streatham and invites people to come and explore a culture of peace. Not peace politically, but peace within us. Peace is different for each and every one of us and we each have the power to transform our communities. This film is coming to Streatham Odeon soon. I have also had conversation with Labour MP for Streatham, Bell Ribeiro-Addy, about how we can get this film shown in Parliament.”
MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy and Simi Solomon photographed during the reception with other Members of Parliament
Leonita Metaj, Violence Reduction Unit, Young People’s Action Group (YPAG) shared her views during the panel discussion
Councillor Michael Desmond, former Civic Mayor of Hackney, asked for the film to be shared widely
Audience members acknowledged the heartfelt stories shared
Audience members who contributed to the panel discussion and vox pop interviews during the reception included Councillor Michael Desmond, former Civic Mayor of Hackney, and Leonita Metaj from the Violence Reduction Unit, Young People’s Action Group (YPAG).
Councillor Michael Desmond stated: “My key takeaway is that kindness, tolerance and respect have to trump bitterness, hatred, fear and violence. I think we need to show this film very, very widely – specifically in places that wouldn’t normally see a film like this.”
Leonita Metaj, advocate for Young People stated: “My key takeaway is that even if someone is rude to you, don’t be rude; if someone is violent to you, don’t be violent. Have the peace mindset, not the revenge mindset. Young people need to hear more of that. We need people in Parliament to see this because they are the ones making the changes and they need to hear these first-hand accounts.”
Amina Khalid concluded the evening by stating: “This huge task ahead requires a powerful force to come together in a unified way. Alone we fall, but together we stand.”
For more information about this event, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.