13/08/2020 – The latest edition of the Fight for Peace Alliance training component took place while the UK was in lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. This meant adaptation of the normally face to face interactive training programme to an online format.

The training programme is the first point of contact for organisations joining the Fight for Peace Alliance and an important first step in new partners being immersed in and understanding the Fight for Peace methodology. Significantly, as a recent external evaluation points out, it creates a strong bond both with and between new members. We asked Fight for Peace Alliance Programme Manager, Bali Khuman, to talk us through the challenge of delivering Alliance training online, the outcomes of the programme and what’s next for the newest group of Alliance members.

“The training programme is and always has been a really crucial component of the Fight for Peace Alliance. It is where organisations come together for the first time, really understand in an immersive way Fight for Peace’s work and  create strong bonds which translate into future collaboration and knowledge sharing. Being physically in the same space is a big part of this process. Ordinarily, new Alliance partner organisations spend a week with us at the Fight for Peace London Academy, meeting young people and staff, taking part in combat sports training and programme delivery and interacting and getting to know one another. Adapting this for online delivery was unchartered territory for us.

Despite the circumstances, we got on with it, and while we would have to conclude that the interactive and physically immersive elements of the programme were sadly missing, we ended the programme extremely pleased with the results and optimistic for this latest group’s entry into the Fight for Peace Alliance.

There was none of the handshakes and physical contact that usually comes with the start of each day of the course, and which are some of the building blocks to a tight knit group, indeed the first barrier we had to overcome was that some of us, myself included, were meeting each other in person for the first time. We adapted, conscious throughout that interaction and engagement are more challenging through digital mediums, but no less important.

The normal intensive week-long course was changed to a six week programme with partners attending online for two hours a week. Some course content, which includes exploration of the Fight for Peace methodology as well as discussion of the other operational elements that make up Fight for Peace, was also adapted with fewer Fight for Peace staff than normal delivering, and some modules reserved for future delivery. It was important for us to retain as much interaction as possible between participants, as this is the essence of the Alliance – collaboration for all of us to grow and develop as organisations.

And there were some fantastic outcomes and advantages to this remote style of delivery. In total nine organisations from areas across the UK, including Cardiff, Birmingham, Liverpool, London and Lancashire, completed the programme – the highest number of new partners from the UK ever to do this. Course feedback suggests that some people really enjoy an online presenting style, where they can sit back and absorb content and receive resources in terms of slides that they can save and refer to later.

The weekly spotlight presentations of participating organisations, including a fantastic video presentation, gave a tremendous insight into the organisations and their work, while the participation of young people on the course alongside organisation leads was a rich and very welcome addition, as it has been in previous courses.

And my co-trainers and deliverers from Fight for Peace – Sol, Ari, Richard and Belisa – did a wonderful job as ever in presenting and unpacking the work of Fight for Peace. For me, face to face training for this particular programme is always preferable to online delivery, but, having done it, I am confident that you can deliver it remotely in an effective and engaging way, and that is very heartening. 

We of course want to meet as a group as soon as we are safely able to, for our new Alliance partners to experience our Fight for Peace spaces and for organisations to strengthen the initial bonds they have created through the online course. But the work of the Alliance for these new partners is in motion, with some organisations already in touch with Fight for Peace staff with the aim of growing and developing their own programmes and service to young people. This is a fantastic and very promising sign.

Collaboration and sharing with the aim of making us all stronger is what the Alliance exists to do, and so it is extremely pleasing and promising to see this process begin and unfold. We look forward to working closely with our newest additions to the Alliance and see them collaborate with their new partners in the UK and across the world.” 

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