Advocacy Services Report

Today the Commission for Victims and Survivors of Northern Ireland (CVSNI) and Ulster University (INCORE & TJI) launched the Advocacy Services Report focusing on advocacy and dealing with the past. The report was authored by Dr Maire Braniff, Professor Brandon Hamber, Dr Catherine O’Rourke, Dr Philip McCready and Dr John Bell.

Professor Brandon Hamber, the John Hume and Thomas P. O’Neill Chair, speaking at the launch

The Report found that while the needs of victims and survivors are not homogenous there are core principles that underpin effective service provision. Essentially they should be victim-led, build trust, not create dependency, be compassionate and empathetic and value the lived experience and perspective of the individual. The groups offering advocacy were led by such principles. Further provision for dealing with the past should draw on and learn from the scale, diversity and experience of advocacy practice to date.

Equally, however, our research found that this was challenging work. There was unanimity amongst all service users and service providers that the biggest challenge was the systemic delay and the slow nature of legacy investigation and information recovery. The biggest scope for improvement in advocacy services was the accessibility of information and more streamlined and quicker responses from statutory agencies.

Psychosocial: UN State Consultation

On 29 April 2020, at the request of the Stabilisation and Humanitarian Aid Department of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Chair participated in an international Member State Consultation focusing on psychosocial issues and peacebuilding.

The event was aimed at enhancing the psychosocial focus on peacebuilding as part of the current 2020 Review of the UN Peacebuilding Architecture. The Chair is currently working on a working group with the Dutch government on their submission for the review. At the Member State Consultation, the Chair presented a paper entitled “Mind the past to build the future: Systematic attention for Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) in peacebuilding efforts”. The paper provides a basic introduction to the psychosocial dynamics that need to be analysed and addressed when working on the peace-conflict continuum, and the value-added of Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) in peacebuilding efforts.

To download the paper, click here.

Screening Violence: Indonesia

The lastest screenings “Screening Violence: A Transnational Study of Post-Conflict Imaginaries” took place in Dungannon on 16 January 2020, with the support of the Dungannon Film Club, showing two Indonesian films followed by a discussion with participants. The films were Sowan (The Visit) which documents the friendship of two young women, Mien and Murti, who end up on different sides of the political troubles of the mid-1960s. The second film Provocator Damai (Peace Provocateur) is short documentary charts the experiences of Christians and Muslims residing with families of the opposite faith. The second film, in particular, raised an important discussion about the impact of cross-community work in Northern Ireland, with a range of divergent views.

The AHRC Project “Screening Violence: A Transnational Study of Post-Conflict Imaginaries” is undertaken with partners in Newcastle and Bristol University, and works with co-investigators and partners in Algeria, Argentina, Colombia, Northern Ireland and Indonesia.

Scene from The Visit (Sowan)

Screening Violence: Argentina

The Chair has continued work on AHRC Project “Screening Violence: A Transnational Study of Post-Conflict Imaginaries” with partners in Newcastle and Bristol University, and works with co-investigators and partners in Algeria, Argentina, Colombia, Northern Ireland and Indonesia. The lastest screenings took place in Dungannon on 7 November 2019, with the support of the Dungannon Film Club, showing two Argentinian films followed by a discussion with participants.

The films shown were “Padre/Father” (Director Santiago Bou Grasso), a short stop motion animation piece that portrays the day-to-day life of a woman who looks after her bedridden military father. The second film was “Who am I?/Quién soy yo?”(Director Estela Bravo), a documentary about the stolen babies of the 1976-83 military dictatorship in Argentina who have recovered their true identity. Needless to say, the films provoked an interesting discussion.

The Argentinian animation can see below, and if you further questions on the project or want to participate contact Professor Brandon Hamber.

Hidden Barriers in Belfast

Last week David Coyles, Dr Adrian Grant and Professor Brandon Hamber presented research findings to a Knowledge Exchange Seminar Series (KESS) at Stormont on “Hidden barriers and divisive architecture: the case of Belfast”. The research notes that “peace-walls” are particularly symbolic of the role that architecture plays in separating residential communities and a comprehensive scholarship continues to assess their effects, but the research focuses on other barriers in the city. The presentation outlines original findings from a three-year multi-disciplinary academic research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), which extends this current understanding of physical and social division. It reveals new evidence of a distinct and important, yet largely unrecognised, body of divisive architecture; an extensive range of ‘hidden barriers’ embedded in various architectural forms across Belfast’s residential communities. You can download the Policy Brief, click here.