The past six weeks have gone by really quickly. We are now in the seventh week with just three weeks remaining until the completion of our Dialogue Studies MA placement. The internship so far has taught me how to engage in practical dialogue in an intercultural society essentially helping reduce misunderstandings and prejudice between different cultures. The Dialogue Society has welcomed me into a very warm and friendly environment and I would like to thank every single person who has assisted me thus so far.
This week we were invited to a presentation by Justine Huxley at St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and peace. Justine spoke about “dialogue facilitation techniques” and we explored as a group how to create safe spaces for dialogue and how to manage divisions and conflict. It was a highly interactive training workshop for all of us.
The highlight of the week for me was the final delivery of the Dialogue’s Apprentice project we have been planning and preparing in our groups for several weeks. It was the first event to be organised by us, the Dialogue Studies MA students and therefore there was much anticipation and nervousness during the run up to the big day. We had worked extremely hard in preparation for the event and finally that day had come.
The event was held at the Mevlana Rumi Centre in Edmonton and the topic of the event concerned was “knife and crime“. The Rumi Mosque and Methodist Church were the partner bodies in the project. The Mevlana Rumi Centre and Methodist Church attached considerable importance to the event, as they had high expectations from the event, which could help reduce knife crime. The aim of the event was to facilitate a platform for parents and young people to gain knowledge and advice on how to help prevent knife crime. Members of different religions and ethnic groups were present.
Nick de Bois, Conservative Party MP for Enfield North was invited to give a speech about “Knife and Crime” and he mentioned local problems and government strategy regarding this issue. Hazel Nelson from the Nelson William Foundation also presented her thoughts on the issue being an active enthusiast on knife crime prevention. Hazel highlighted the importance of children’s safety and parents’ key role in discouraging their children from carrying a knife. Karl Morris was invited from the local police station who talked about the legal aspect of the subject.
Following the event, Nick de Bois MP said: “It’s fantastic to see such a large group of people coming together with the sole aim of preventing more of our young people becoming involved with gang and knife crime. Such problems cannot be solved alone by the police or the Government but solutions must involve communities working together and showing young people that they have other options – rather than carrying a knife.”
It was encouraging to hear Nick de Bois MP reflect upon the community event we had put together and highlight how this dialogic gathering could help prevent more young people becoming involved in knife crime. People from all ethnic groups, parents and children attended and were fully engaged, asking questions and discussing possible solutions. Not only did this successful dialogue event provide knowledge and insight, it also taught us about the practical dialogue techniques required in planning a community event.
*The ideas expressed in this column are solely the opinions of the author and not necessarily of the Dialogue Society