‘Towards Understanding and Healing’ is a project that focuses on the needs of the individual by creating a space for reflection and recognition of individual experience and supporting individuals to share their stories. Because Northern Ireland is the way that it is, no one person can tell the story and this project emphasises the need to hear all the disparate narrative in order to open minds to other possibilities. There is also a reality that, within the field of conflict resolution and peace building, there has been little focus on individual and community trauma as a result of over three decades of violence - ‘Towards Understanding and Healing’ offers a space for people to begin to articulate and share personal stories and also listen to other stories or ‘truths’ in a way that does not diminish their own personal experience.Towards Understanding and Healing has a multi-tiered approach:
- Residential gatherings attended by diverse groups of people; former British soldiers, parents of soldiers killed, people injured/bereaved (in NI and UK), ex-combatants, ex-security forces, community leaders etc.
- A long-term project to raise awareness and understanding of the difficulties facing a society which has suffered a protracted, low intensity conflict and which has encountered both individual and collective trauma.
- Encounters in schools and community, providing a wide range of voices and perspectives that aren’t always accessible to particular groupings, communities.
- Workshops, seminars and discussions addressing unresolved issues of the past.
- Creative methodologies to engage people with their own lived experience and story.