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Paths of Peace – Mediation Skills for Interpersonal Conflicts

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5 Session Course – In-person and online

April 26th – May 24th 2024

This course introduces a 5 stage process that you practise step by step. Although the focus is on transforming conflicts in churches, the skills that you learn can be used wherever there is a role, formal or informal, for mediative intervention by a third party. If you have an appetite for practical peace-making, and you want to be equipped to make a difference using mediation skills, this is the course for you.

Please visit: Events page for full Course & Booking detail

Download: Mediation Skills Course Flyer

Peace and Quiet Days

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The next Peace and Quiet days are on Friday 23rd February and Saturday 23rd March.

These days have become very popular and much appreciated by past participants. They offer an opportunity for day retreat with loads of helpful resources as well as walks, conversation, and lots of good food. Come and be cared for. Take some space to rest and reflect in the lovely surroundings. Find some peace in the chaos, and some quiet in the storm. This day will be led by Revd Nikki Jenkins, Associate Minister at Blackley. More details on our Events page.

 

Revd Dr Richard L Kidd

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We are truly saddened by the death of Richard Kidd. Richard has been a dear friend and colleague for many years and accompanied us through the creation of the Blackley Centre. From the first conversations about the Centre he and Rosemary embraced it – Richard’s infectious enthusiasm for what we were trying to do and be, enabled us to believe that we could do this. His support was not just in words – he offered to help us as a Trustee and to be our founding Treasurer. He created our publicity, our logo and our website and supported us in so many ways, generous with his time, his thoughts and his creativity. Rosemary and he have been close family friends since I was a teenager, and when we worked together at Northern he encouraged me to do more than I thought possible. We were so sad to lose Rosemary last year, and now Richard too. We give thanks for a remarkable man whose insight, creativity, adventurous thinking coming from his considerable brain, was sometimes disconcerting, frequently challenging, and constantly prompting exploration of the new. Rest well now Richard – may you know peace.

Directors Sabbatical

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Both Andy and Jo really appreciated the opportunity to take a 2 month sabbatical from Church and Centre in July and August. It was a special time of rest and restoration, visiting other retreat and training centres, learning and being inspired by others working in this area of peace and reconciliation.

Peace and Quiet Days in June and July

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Friday 17th June and Saturday 30th July

Sometimes in this world we just need to slow down and look for some Peace and Quiet. We need to take the time to pause and reflect upon our role in society and our community. As the politicians of this age seem determined to take us further and further into chaos, we need to stop and reset.

The Blackley Centre are running a series of Peace and Quiet Days both before the summer holidays and then just after, starting on the 17th June.

This is your chance to join us at your own personal retreat day. Throughout the day you are free to enjoy the Centre, Chapel and grounds, a lovely environment in which to spend a day of reflection. Resources are available for you to use to create a personal retreat, appropriate for you.

The prefect place to relax, contemplate any issues that are important to you and hopefully find a path forward.

The first day is Friday 17th June followed by Saturday the 30th July.

All are welcome and to book just call 01422 646803 or email admin@blackleycentre.co.uk.

We’d love to meet you here.

Blackley Centre and Church – the perfect environment for reflection in the Peace and Quiet

Having Difficult Conversations – An Inter Faith Dialogue

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How can we have difficult conversations and remain in good relationships in our families, faith communities and among faith communities?

In life we often find ourselves in situations where we need to discuss topics that may be sensitive to others or we may hold different views.

How can we have difficult conversations without causing offence and remain in good relationships? At the Dialogue on the 3rd of May you’ll have opportunity to draw from the wide experience of our Director for Reconciliation as we discuss together how this helps us in the situations we face.

Centre visit to the Holocaust Exhibition and Learning Centre, 16th January

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A group of fourteen of us, visited this exhibition in the Schwann Building at Huddersfield University. We were offered welcome refreshments and heard an introduction to the museum by two volunteers. Opened in 2018, it is one of the 2 Holocaust museums in the UK (the other being in London.) Cooperation between the Holocaust Survivors Friendship Association and Huddersfield University, plus funding from the Lottery and other sources, led to this remarkable exhibition. It is by no means a ‘fun’ visit but it felt to be a great privilege to share in these experiences.

The Holocaust Exhibition and Learning Centre (Huddersfield) - 2022 All You  Need to Know Before You Go (with Photos) - Huddersfield, England |  TripadvisorThe presentation is excellent, the format is very accessible and not overpowering. Against the backdrop of the politics and situations in their homelands, the individual stories of 16 children and young people from Poland Hungary, Germany, France and Lithuania were told. They had arrived as refugees to the north of England, some survivors from concentration camps, some smuggled away by their families, some on the Kindertransports of 1938/39. 

As we made our way around the exhibition we viewed explanatory text panels, touched screens of life stories, short videos, interactive displays, plus photographs and displays of artefacts and possessions. These included the yellow stars that Jews were obliged to wear in Nazi Germany. The displays were modern, instructive, and compelling. I did notice that as we went around there was very little conversation.  I think we were all so completely absorbed.

Some of the background information about conditions and treatment was very disturbing, but there was a positivity about this exhibition because it dealt with survivors who gained a new life locally and a chance of recovery. Elland people in particular will remember Lady Margaret Kagan, a Lithuanian who went into a concentration camp and eventually made a new life in the West Riding. It was heartening to read that the country of Denmark managed to evacuate nearly all its Jewish population to Sweden early on in the war. Also Albanian Muslims, including their civil authorities, refused to co-operate with the Nazis in any persecution of their Jewish population.

One lovely little story was of a young boy unable to speak any English who arrived by train in Leeds. His few possessions were put into left luggage and he was taken off by bus, ending up watching Leeds United playing Everton. The match was a draw, 1-1, but on that day he became a lifelong Leeds fan. Apparently when he was in his 90’s he was invited onto the pitch to meet all the team.

The exhibition finished with a short film and the final speaker said he was still alive only because he had been saved by the actions of a Gestapo Doctor. So there is hope in the darkest situations. I felt that despite the demonstrable horrors of the Holocaust there was a lack of bitterness in the exhibition. It is well worth a visit, open Monday – Thursday. Lots of information on the website, and appropriate for young people aged 14 and over. We intend to make sure our grandchildren go to see it. It will soon pass out of living memory and so these stories must be preserved.’

Jean Whitworth

Mediation Skills Training Programme Spring 2022

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“Absolutely inspirational! A truly engaging, enjoyable course”

This was said of the Accredited Mediation Training Course recently run for Volunteer Mediators with Smile Mediation Burnley. The course begins with an exploration of the ‘landscape’ thinking about why and how conflict and disagreement happen and how in far too many situations it becomes negative, discouraging and destructive. Participants then learn of the role and place of mediation in working in conflict situations, creating opportunities for positive and mutual ways of resolving disagreements and disputes, through creative and curious communication strategies and skills. Key to the training is an understanding of a core mediation process, which participants are encouraged to know, use and develop, being mindful of their own experience, innate skills and abilities.

“During the training course I went on a journey, not only to learn about mediation but also about myself”

A key objective of the training is development in self-awareness and confidence at handling difficult and challenging conversations. Part of this is being more aware of the impact we can have on others, through our behaviour, and communication, helping participants to understand how we can be part of a positive response through the way we manage ourselves. It was brilliant to see people really engage with this and grow in confidence.

“It has given me the confidence and the process to feel I can implement it in the workplace”

The training takes place over 6 weeks – a combination of in person days, half day zoom sessions, pre-recorded webinars which people can watch in their own time and can come back to, as well as a full in depth manual. 

“Thank you so much for being such a good trainer – you have the absolute perfect blend of information from methodology to empathy and I feel very fortunate to be on your course. Thank you and I promise I will work on the areas of development you’ve suggested together with the areas I find difficult.”

A key part of the training is to have opportunities for skills practice, gradually building skills and understanding, interspersing them with content. There are feedback opportunities via voice calls on WhatsApp, as well as written observations of practice and a final one-to-one trainer/trainee tutorial.

“I’m so glad the training is fantastic (if on zoom) and much more organised than the volunteering I’m trying to do elsewhere. Feel excited at the potential of it.”

Smile Mediation offers this training to recruit volunteers of a high calibre to work for the service, offering mediation and conflict coaching in communities and workplaces. They work hard to support their volunteers, providing networking and supervision opportunities, and refresher training events. We are delighted that a new cohort of mediators have now been trained.

Relating to Sikhs and Sikhism – Review from the 5th February 2022

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We gathered at the Blackley Centre for a brief introduction to Sikhism and to clarify arrangements for our visit to the gurdwara. Then we set out for the Guru Nanak Gurdwara in Huddersfield where we were made very welcome by Jas, the Education Officer. Our visit started with a visit to the Punjabi School which is held each Saturday morning. We met three young people who each gave a brief presentation about different aspects of what it meant for them to be Sikhs. It was great to chat with them and we had some interesting discussion about baptism in Sikhism and Christianity. It was a high point of the day. Then we toured round the school meeting three different classes of children and their teachers. We visited the large prayer hall where we saw the Sikh sacred scripture, which is the Guru Granth Sahib, which was on a low platform covered by a canopy. There are no chairs and worshippers sit on the beautifully carpeted floor.

We had a lovely lunch provided for us in the large kitchen and dining area, where quite a few Sikhs were also eating. This was followed by a powerpoint presentation on Sikhism with many questions and much discussion with Jas before concluding the visit. It had certainly fulfilled the aim of enabling us to understand Sikh beliefs and practices and understand the role of the Gurdwara. Those on the visit all found it very helpful, commenting, ‘it was fun and informative’, ‘an eye opener’ and ‘enlightening’.