1.1 As a positive legacy of the Coventry Blitz, Coventry is proud to be known as the City of Peace and Reconciliation and of the welcome it offers to people from all over the world. Today, Coventry has more people than ever who, as refugees or migrants escaping from serious conflict in their own countries of origin, have brought a rich cultural heritage to the city and Coventry is now a City of Sanctuary. This heritage is not always not celebrated or understood, and sometimes mistrusted. To foster unity between people of different cultures, faiths and generations, there has never been a greater need to explore and explain this rich heritage. As Coventry bids to become City of Culture 2021, what better place to start than amongst young people, who are the next generation.
1.2 History books can be dull and we can all become immune to media reports of conflict from around the world. Hearing from real people about how they survived conflict and hardship can be inspiring. Learning about their culture and heritage can be enriching. This project gives Coventry young people the chance to hear first-hand stories of conflict and hardship from refugees and migrants who have settled in Coventry and who may have been profoundly affected by world events – stories that are now embedded in Coventry as part of our human heritage. It’s also a chance for those from different traditions to share unique aspects of their culture with young people. The project will bring recent history alive, bring home the impact of conflict in seemingly distant lands, kindle young people’s interest in the past, celebrate Coventry’s increasingly rich cultural heritage and inspire a generation of peace makers.
1.3 Since 2013, Coventry charity Normandy Day UK (NDUK) has been working with Coventry and Warwickshire schools to bring young people, veterans and New Arrivals from different parts of the world together to promote an understanding of peace and conflict, promote harmony between people of different generations and traditions and give a context to history lessons. Sessional artists have worked with groups of students to represent stories of peace and conflict in graffiti or poetry. Some Coventry and Warwickshire schools were involved in the making of a peace education film to mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day in 2014, which was premiered in Coventry Cathedral on 6th June 2014. Other schools were part of our 2015 Peace Anniversaries project.
1.4 Working off-timetable, and funded entirely from small grants, thousands of young people have been inspired by the stories they have heard and learned new skills from the workshops they have taken part in. Feedback from participating schools suggests it has been well-received by staff and made a lasting impression on the young people.
1.5 As the number of New Arrivals continues to rise, the rich pool of cultural heritage is blooming. Coventry now hosts the annual international Rising peace conference and is bidding to become 2021 City of Culture. We believe the time is right to engage on a bigger scale with the young people of Coventry, creating a generation of people who appreciate the richness and friendship of those who share a different heritage, but the same city.
To create a movement of young people in Coventry schools who understand Coventry’s history of conflict and peace and multi-cultural heritage and are inspired to strive for peace and unity.
- Bring alive for young people historical events involving conflict through those who have lived through them
- Build peace, unity and cohesion in schools
- Learn new skills while expressing and embedding impressions of historical and world events
- Bring generations and cultures together to celebrate Coventry’s multi-cultural heritage
- Raise awareness of people who have made sacrifices as a result of war and conflict
- Celebrate the lives of those who have survived serious conflict and are now contributing to life in Coventry
- Provide volunteer opportunities for refugees, migrants and young people
- Encourage the establishment of Peace & Justice groups in secondary schools and a network of young peacemakers.
4.0 The Model
4.1 Spread over two years, the project will involve participating schools, refugees, migrants and partners in a launch conference to plan the programme, then a closing conference to celebrate the learning and the legacy. In between, each participating secondary school (and some Year 6 Primary school groups) will welcome refugees, migrants and artists to year groups, class groups and extra-curriculum workshops to share and interpret their stories and heritage. The model has been tested successfully by Cardinal Newman School and Community College, NDUK’s main school partner and the UK’s first designated Beacon School of Peace.
- A launch conference (e.g. at The Herbert) involving representatives of all participant groups: schools, young people migrants &refugees and project partners
- A group of migrant and refugee speakers will be identified who are prepared to share their stories
- Schools will select an area of the world or an era of conflict and a former migrant or refugees will matched to each school to share their experiences in assemblies, classes, workshops or special events
- A small groups of young people in each school will research the background to the conflict or the speaker’s country of origin and present this to a wide audience at each school
- A pool of sessional artists will be assembled to run off-timetable workshops with groups of 20-30 students (e.g. poetry, drama, dance, film, graffiti). Schools will select their preferred media and the artist will work with each group in off-timetable workshops to interpret and embed the images, feelings, heritage or culture presented by the speaker
- Schools will be invited to film interviews, workshops and other project components to maintain a record/ legacy
- A sessional film maker will be appointed to train schools and edit the film into a final cut
- Schools will decide how to embed this work in their schools and local communities e.g. exhibitions, Peace and Justice Groups, multi-cultural events, arranging sessions in feeder Primary schools
- A final conference (e.g. at Coventry Cathedral) at the end of Year 2 to celebrate achievements, show the final film and artworks and display the work to the wider Coventry community.
5.0 Case Study
Cardinal Newman School and Community College was one of the schools who worked with NDUK, a filmmaker and a graffiti artist on our Ingredients for Peace film project. The filmmaker trained a group of students in film, oral history and graffiti art. As a result of the project, led by the Faculty Leader of Humanities, the students have started a Peace and Justice group of Year 11 to 13 students who have shared their interest with the whole school and, in doing so, developed confidence and communication skills. The group has researched past events, planted a Peace and Prayer Garden at the school, attended a conference organised by the British Organisation for People of Asian Origin about the Commonwealth contribution to the First World War, joined Prince Charles and David Cameron at St Paul’s Cathedral to mark Waterloo 200, organised a D-Day peace picnic at the school and organised a D-Day anniversary speaker and graffiti workshop themselves for a feeder primary school without any input from a professional artist.
Normandy Day UK (lead)
Cardinal Newman Schools and Community College
Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre
Coventry University (Centre for Peace, Trust and Reconciliation)
Hebert Art Gallery and Museum
Rising Global Peace Forum
UK City of Culture Trust
Faculty Leader of Humanities and Peace and Justice Coordinator
Cardinal Newman Catholic School
Coventry, CV6 2FR
Tel: 02476 332382
Fax: 02476 335626