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Meet the Peace Centre team
12:00pm Thursday 21st March 2013 in News
FOR 13 years the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace in Great Sankey has provided a symbol of peace and hope for residents.
Built in 2000 after 12-year-old Tim Parry and three-year-old Johnathan Ball were killed in an IRA bomb attack seven years before, the centre is unique in the UK supporting victims of terrorism and their families.
The Warrington Guardian went to meet the team who have helped more than 25,000 people through their programmes and strives to prove good can come from evil.
Victims work team Ann Beswick, aged 50, programme worker “My role is to work with different groups of adults on a variety of programmes we run including Sharing Experiences.
“It gives people the opportunity to talk about things that have happened to them and meet people in similar situations.
“Alot of people who have experienced conflict or terrorism think they’re going mad because of their reaction but we can show them that’s not the case.
“It’s very rewarding seeing people coming to terms with things that have happened in the past.”
Rebecca McCartney, aged 22, programme assistant helped write the report for the cost of terrorism conference on Wednesday and supports programme preparation.
She said: “I’ve had a lot of exposure to the Peace Centre having previously been involved with youth activities and feel very lucky to be able to work here full time.”
Jo Dover, aged 39, programme manager and worked at the centre since it opened.
“I oversee work with people who have been bereaved, injured or witnessed conflict or terrorism and support people to do something positive with that experience.
“We bring people together who might have been enemies as well as helping emergency responders.
“When we first started we were helping people in Britain affected by the Northern Ireland conflict but soon after we opened there was 9/11, the Bali bombing in 2002, Iraq and Afghanistan and then the London bombing changed things for us as a country and as a centre.
“Colin and Wendy choosing to build this place has inspired people to do something different and it’s the reason a lot of people come here from all over the country.
“Often they have never met someone else whose been in a bombing or lost someone that way so coming here means they can connect.
One of her highlights was going for a meal after a programme with a former IRA member, Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and British soldier.
Jo added: “They walked down Bridge Street together afterwards to get to their hotel whereas 30 years ago they would have probably wanted to kill each other.
“To see them chatting and walking down the street which was the reason we are here was a really special moment.”
Prevention and good relations team Kelly Simcock, aged 34, programme manager for 10 years and works on preventing conflict.
“It’s about trying to help people resolve problems before the point it erupts into violence.
“We support those who work with young people and groups who can be drawn into the far right and recently our work has been focussed in west Yorkshire, Lancashire and Greater Manchester.
“But it’s also been on a European level as well with the Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN) which I’m chair of.
“It prevents violent extremism among young people and it’s about bringing people together to discuss issues and tensions.
“One of my highlights was working with a group of Palestinian and Israeli youngsters who didn’t want to look at each other initially and by the end of the week they were skipping and dancing together.”
Kerry Gibson, aged 33, programme worker for more than eight years She works with young children in schools around conflict, resolution and managing emotions.
She said: “Sometimes teachers feel ill-equipped to deal with five-year-olds who have racist attitudes so we help them have the confidence to deal with it.
“It’s the individual successes you remember like helping a pupil who was really angry and getting kicked out of school and after a course he told me he didn’t want to be like that anymore.”
Lynn Hitchen, operations manager and Karen McManus, building manager, have been at the centre since it opened and said it was a dream to be involved.
Lynn added: “It’s nice to be somewhere where you’re making such a difference to people’s lives rather than thinking about making a profit.”
Business development and fundraising team Wendy Parry, aged 55, fundraiser and events co-ordinator “When we started we only had one programme, the Tim Parry scholarship, and people say ‘you must be so proud of what you have achieved since then’.
“But it’s all down to the brilliant staff who work so hard.
“People seem to find it hard to understand what we do and don’t realise how big the building is and the residential space.
“3,700 people were killed during the trouble in Northern Ireland but 47,000 were injured and most of those people have never had the help they need.
“It’s harder than it’s ever been to fundraise due to the economic climate and I think people feel terrorism or conflict will never touch them but we are living proof that it does.
“We’re an ordinary family in an ordinary town who have suffered through terrorism.
“It can affect anyone at anytime.”
Pam White, aged 54, community fundraiser since August last year The former police officer knows all too well about the work of the Peace Centre having been on one of the programmes after an IRA car bomb exploded in Harrods while she was on duty.
Among the dead were two police officers including a colleague who was stood alongside Pam in December 1983.
Pam, who is assisted by Anna Connelly, aged 22, intern community fundraiser, said: “It’s a really enjoyable job but we really need more volunteers at the moment, even if you can just spare one or two hours.
“Anybody who wants to take part in sponsored events to raise cash for the charity would be really welcome or bake a cake for the Peace of Cake fundraiser.”
Terry O’Hara, aged 48, will be working alongside chief executive Nick Taylor on developing programmes.
He added: “It’s important the foundation doesn’t stand still which is why we’re here.”