Fight for Peace Alliance member organisations from around the UK were able to return to normality earlier this month with the staging of a face to face meet in Wales. The focus was to bring organisations together to exchange thoughts and knowledge, and to look at potential collaboration in the delivery of projects for young people.

Youth organisations from the north of England, the Midlands, and south Wales all came together to share expertise over a two day period, the power of the relationships and bonds built between these organisations creating a fertile space for learning and development. We talked with one of the event’s participants, Jack Sunderland – Founder of the Training Cave in West Yorkshire, England – about the power of collaboration, how relationships are built and what he took away from the weekend. 

“It came at a perfect time for us because as an organisation we are looking at the next steps in terms of getting a bigger building and talking on more staff”, said Jack. “I came away with a lot of advice from the other organisations on what to do and we were able to bounce ideas off each other. I came back fired up and looking forward to the next one.”

One of the key parts of the weekend, which was brilliantly hosted by Swansea Bay ABC, was the extra activities that accompanied the exchange workshops that allowed participants to get to know each other on a deeper level. This weekend’s activities included a hike up the highest mountain in southern Britain, Pen-y-Fan, trips to local waterfalls, and a ride in a limousine!

“We spent as much time together as we possibly could, you just pick a lot up from each other”, explained Jack. “[The other organisations] are all doing projects that I might have been thinking about doing, then it’s motivated me to do it or the other way around. And sometimes there are ideas I had never even thought about so that is how it is impacting our young people. I am using the stories from the other organisations and putting it into practice now when we come back.” 

The central concept of the weekend was for organisations to present programmes or activities that they are interested in running for young people, and in turn receive advice and guidance from fellow Alliance members on how to best develop the ideas. A big part of this, of course, is the solidarity and partnership that is generated among Alliance member organisations and the strength that comes from collaboration, and facing the same experience and challenges.

This is something that Jack highlighted as a key benefit of the Alliance:

“When you are there with members of the Alliance, it is nice to spend time together with other like minded people that are going through the same struggles as you and all trying to do something that has a positive impact on our communities. I always come away from a weekend with the Alliance just fired up and ready to go.”

Another important element of the dynamic at exchange events such as this is working with peers and organisations that are at different stages of their development. This provides the opportunity for mentoring and guidance from those with more experience in the sector. In Jack’s case, this mentoring role is filled by Seb Glazer, Founder of Hull-based Vulcan Learning Centre, a fellow Fight for Peace Alliance member organisation. Seb was present at this latest event to support facilitation and the exchanges, having been involved with Fight for Peace via the Alliance since 2015.

“My relationship with Seb is a really good one”, explained Jack, “if it wasn’t for Seb, our gym wouldn’t be in the position it is in right now. I can ring him any time or message him any time and he’s always there to help me. I think he has really helped to push us on and when we were at the meet this time I felt like I was in a position to advise other organisations – and that’s because of what we have learned from Fight for Peace and Vulcan.”

It is wonderful to see a return to face to face meetings among Alliance member organisations in the UK, and this event epitomised the strength of collaboration and growing and developing together.

A massive thank you goes to Swansea Bay ABC for hosting a fantastic Alliance event, and thank you also to all of the organisations that participated and made it such a success.

Participating at the event were: Carl Betty Martial Arts, Cwm Taf Youth Offending Service, Burnage Academy for Boys, InPower Academy CIC, Swansea Bay ABC, Training Cave and Vulcan Learning Centre. 

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