A diverse group from English, Scottish, Pakistani and Chinese roots met in Newcastle upon Tyne to experience the 10-step Peace Circle process. Barbara Down reports.
For several years now I had been hoping to have a Peace Circle in Newcastle and at the end of September that wish came true. A few months ago, having explained to my friend Ruth Hewett what Creators of Peace was all about, we approached one of the facilitators to see what was possible. Su Riddell and Karen Ridley kindly agreed to come to Newcastle for a few days to facilitate the Peace Circle.
We were a diverse group from English, Scottish, Pakistani and Chinese roots, with experience of being a city councillor, an Anglican church minister, a journalist, a university recruiter, a counsellor, a teacher, a social worker and a HR manager.
Karen Ridley, who took a ferry and train all the way from Iona to be with us, writes, ‘I was delighted to hear that Newcastle upon Tyne was hosting a Creators of Peace Circle and knew that I wanted to be a part of it. I asked if I could attend but found that someone had a better idea and I was pleased to be able to join Su Riddell, Barbara Down and Ruth Hewett in co-facilitating the first Peace Circle in Newcastle, after several years of lower profile participation in Oxford, due to work commitments. We planned on-line and met at Ruth’s home on the eve of this three–day event.
‘It was great to meet such a lovely and diverse group of women on the first day, I felt welcomed, supported and welcoming. The Gathering Points rolled out and the stories that were shared touched my heart and enabled us all to know and understand each other a little better. Ruth and Barbara had worked hard to co-ordinate tea breaks and lunches, all very important, so that we could seamlessly eat together and make progress with the programme. I felt that these women were breaking new ground together, in Newcastle. I felt truly honoured to be a part of the event, to meet such great, open-hearted women and I hope that I will be able to work together with the Newcastle team again in the future, as plans for further Peace Circle work in the area develop. Thank you all.’
We have agreed to meet up again soon to continue supporting each other and learning more about peacebuilding together.
Having gained so much from the Peace Circle, we will be hosting more Peace Circles in Newcastle in 2020 and beyond. Barbara and Ruth both plan on training to be facilitators in the near future.
Women who took part shared the impact of the Creators of Peace Circle for their life:
‘These three days made me think about what peace making is. It’s about an awareness of a need that we should all work together in this big family (world) for a shared vision and a common and sustaining interest.’
‘I have been excited and encouraged to meet other women of different faiths and backgrounds who are amazing, resilient, resourceful and hoping to consolidate all these values to affect change in themselves, their communities and the world.’
‘The Peace Circle has helped me realise that rather than my life reacting to events and people, I can take responsibility for the direction it is meant to take. In that process, I can also include others who want to make a difference, but who doubt their own ability.’
‘I am reminded and reassured that my values are my best guide. So simple. So reassuring.’
‘The Peace Circle made me think about myself, and where I was destroying the peace and how I can do better to build peace. To me forgiveness is the key of peace building at all levels.’
‘As well as going to the heart of the matter – I now feel motivated to find ‘my team’ to work with, to care for my community a little more.’
‘The Peace Circle was a wonderful experience. I wish I had done this, years ago. It has made me realise the strength of forgiveness and the power in each woman’s story.’