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Spanish journalist Jonathan Lopez talks to Karen Ridley as she leads a workshop on 'what does change look like'.
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Jonathan López
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30 April, 2012

Alex Martins hosted the day
Alex Martins hosted the day
‘Anyone can take initiatives of change’ was the theme of a public event that took place on Saturday 21 April at the Initiatives of Change centre in London. The event included three presentations and three workshops providing practical experience on how to develop good skills to promote changes which can benefit oneself and the community.

A touching and noble initiative of change was revealed through a short documentary film called ‘Hayan’. The film, produced by IofC intern Dominic Weakley, told the story of Abdi Gure, who was present in person.

Don de Silva, Head of Programmes for IofC-UK, and Abdi Gure (right), Somali founder of the Hayaan Mental Health Project in Harrow
Don de Silva, Head of Programmes for IofC-UK, and Abdi Gure (right), Somali founder of the Hayaan Mental Health Project in Harrow
Gure who lives in North London’s Harrow is of Somali origin and he took action by helping his compatriots with mental health issues. Most are political refugees who have arrived in the UK traumatised by the war which has devastated their country in the last 20 years.

The unemployment rate among his community in Harrow stands at 80 per cent, he said, and families get broken by a difficult past and a complicated present, not to mention a sombre future. Mental health, then, becomes the first health problem, aggravated by the stigma which goes with it. He explained that in traditional Somali culture, people with mental health issues were shunned, and that no one believed that a cure was possible.

The interactive theatre exercise was designed to help define what is meant by 'change' in non-verbal ways
The interactive theatre exercise was designed to help define what is meant by 'change' in non-verbal ways
Firstly with the Somali Mental Health Advocacy Project, and now with the Somali Hayaan Project (‘Hayaan’ meaning ‘Moving on to a better place’ within the nomadic communities of his country), Gure has been setting up sessions, professional help and other activities which have gradually produced results.

Patrick Colquhoun, who founded the charity Medical Support in Romania and fights against corruption in the health system in Romania, shared his initiatives of change and how we can improve the environment around us by taking others into consideration.

Colquhoun spoke about the importance of acting as a catalyst for others to find change in their lives. 'In some ways it is the

Mary Lean summarizes the feedback from the workshop on'What blocks change? what brings change?'
Mary Lean summarizes the feedback from the workshop on'What blocks change? what brings change?'
most unsatisfying work in the world,' he said, 'because it is not me that does the work but the Almighty.' The thing about a catalyst, he pointed out, is that it is essential to make a chemical reaction happen but it is not in itself part of the reaction.

Fiona Daukes delivered a deep and emotional speech on how to find inspiration. Where does the inspiration to take initiatives of change come from?

She told how her inspiration comes from her parents, who always tried to help the others even in the most difficult situations. Her father, a naval chaplain during World War II had sacrificed his life so that he could pray with men who were

Spanish journalist Jonathan Lopez talks to Karen Ridley as she leads a workshop on 'what does change look like'
Spanish journalist Jonathan Lopez talks to Karen Ridley as she leads a workshop on 'what does change look like'
trapped in a torpedoed ship. With their example, she said, self-attention becomes secondary. Her talk was followed by a period for silent reflection.

The day concluded with three workshops, organised by Alex Martins from Creators of Peace, who is also the Communications Director for the Caux Forum for Human Security. ‘Good listening for a change’, ‘What blocks change? What brings change?’ and ‘What does change look like?’ were the three sessions in which the attendees got to practice what change feels like, how we represent it in our minds.

The workshop on 'What blocks change? what brings change?'
The workshop on 'What blocks change? what brings change?'
At the end of the day, all attendees were invited to post their thoughts about the day on a big board. The written reflections gave a good indication of how the event had gone. Two of the notes were: “In order to really make a difference and create positive change I need to believe in myself more” and “Fear is a liar”. Even if just one of the proposals exposed on those boards becomes reality, the event will have been worth-while.

Photos by Howard Grace

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