Jo Broadwood and Nicola Sugden, two of Talk for a Change’s directors, attended the Conflict Research Society conference in Coventry last week. We presented our recent publication We need to talk about ..can discussing controversial issues strengthen community relations? and entered useful debate with other practitioners. The main topics of debate were how best to use the contact hypothesis, the importance of focussing on differences as well as similarities when in dialogue with conflicting groups, and the pros and cons of local and national organisational set ups for working on good relations in the UK at present.
We were delighted to hear from Isabel Phillips, currently doing a PhD at Bradford, about the potential for skill sharing and practice improvement between the commercial and community mediation fields; to hear from Rachel Julian about progress in impact measurement in good relations work, and from Phil Champain of International Alert about their research into four Diaspora Communities in the UK. We hope very much to use these moving stories in our community good relations work in the near future.
A real bonus was hearing Angi Lederach and John Paul Lederach speak about their new book, “When Blood and Bones Cry Out: Journeys Through the Soundscape of Healing and Reconciliation.” In our field, where gender awareness is sometimes less attended to than it needs to be, Angi’s work with women experiencing sexual violence and her learning from it, is a most welcome contribution.
Tomorrow Nicola speaks at the Thinkspace organised by Lisa Cummings at Programme for a Peaceful City, Bradford and is hoping for a detailed and robust debate with other skilled and experienced practitioners.