Yee Liu Williams
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10 February, 2016

The Corbyn challenge: Spend time with your family

Speakers at the Peace Begins at Home intergenerational dialogue workshop

Jeremy Corbyn MP, Leader of the Opposition and leader of the Labour Party, was a guest speaker at a Somali Intergenerational Dialogue workshop in Islington, north London

The Peace Begins at Home intergenerational dialogue workshop, organised by Somali Initiative for Dialogue and Democracy (SIDD) in partnership with St Ethelburga's Centre for Reconciliation and Peace, Initiatives of Change and Search for Common Ground, took place at the Andover Community Centre on Saturday, 30 January 2016. It was the first of three one-day workshops and involved over 50 participants from across the generations.

Jeremy Corbyn, MP for Islington North since 1983, acknowledged the contribution Somalis have made to Islington's business and life in the community. ‘The contribution that Somalis have made is absolutely fantastic - the businesses you have opened, the community you have developed and the support you have given to young people.’

Other guest speakers were Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, Cllr Asima Shaikh, Islington Council Executive Member for Economic and Community Development and Cllr Michael Desmond, former Speaker of Hackney Council.

The organisers say that one of the biggest challenges faced by the Somali, and other diaspora communities in London, is inter-generational. When there is lack of communication, it can often result in unspoken conflict which remains unaddressed and affects both older and younger members.

Corbyn challenged the young people of London to turn away from mobile phones, TVs and computers for an hour a week and spend time with their parents to encourage family dialogue.

Through the power of dialogue and storytelling, the Peace Begins at Home project aims to build relationships and understanding across the generations as key in building trust and peace at home, and thereby in the community. As younger people attempt to integrate into school life, follow a career or find their place in society, conflict at home can potentially have a damaging and lasting effect.

The first day of the dialogues focussed on identifying key intergenerational challenges, including different identities across the generations, communication, religion and culture, parenting and language. The second day of the dialogues moved to explore next steps and practical actions to respond to these challenges in mixed generation groups. The third day, to be held on 20February, will include conflict transformation training and reflections on further community dialogues.

By bringing the generations together to explore these challenges together, the dialogues have enabled new conversations to be had and fresh perspectives to be heard across age groups. The hope is that these workshops are the beginning of a longer term programme of dialogue workshops in Islington over the coming months.

Report and filming by Yee Liu Williams
Photographs by Sophie Coxon