Young people across Birmingham will be exploring some of the influential peace campaigns that were active in the city, during and after World World 1 in a new project by leading arts & heritage organisation Sampad.
Funded by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund, “Words of Peace” is encouraging a new generation to take part in open discussions and debates on the themes of war and peace, as they uncover information about people and places associated with local pacifist movements.
The project has also received support from the Harry Payne Fund, administered by Heart of England Community Foundation. The Fund was set up in 1939 by Harry Payne, a Birmingham businessman with a strong faith, whose pacifist beliefs led to him being imprisoned during the First World War as a conscientious objector.
Sampad is recruiting and training community volunteers who will gain special access to First World War archive materials at the Library of Birmingham, working with curator Dr Siân Roberts to explore their significance.
The information gathered will be used as a basis for creative workshops for young people in local primary, secondary and sixth form groups with the aim of inspiring them to produce their own modern-day ‘Pledges for Peace’ to be shared at a special celebration event later in the year.
Sampad took their inspiration for the project from the globally renowned Indian writer Rabindranath Tagore, the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Tagore was moved to respond to an international peace manifesto called ‘Declaration of the Independence of the Spirit’ which was published by fellow Nobel Prize winner Romain Rolland in 1919. The declaration implored people to pause for thought after one of the most violent periods in history and consider a collective way forward to foster future world peace.
Commenting on the award, Katy Wade, Sampad’s Project Coordinator said:
“We are thrilled to have received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund for this inspirational project that will encourage the next generation to consider the complex legacy and inheritance of war. We hope to inspire them to respond with their personal messages of hope for a peaceful future, which can be shared with new generations down the years”.
Vanessa Harbar, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund West Midlands, adds:
“The impact of the First World War was far reaching, touching and shaping every corner of the UK and beyond. The Heritage Lottery Fund has invested in projects – large and small – that are marking this Centenary. Our new small grants programme is enabling even more communities like those involved in ‘Words of Peace’ to explore the continuing legacy of this conflict and help local young people in particular to broaden their understanding of how it has shaped our modern world.”
Photo: Janette Bushell