This is a follow up on a meeting CRIS held two weeks ago in response to community tensions and street conflict over the Easter period. We were deeply concerned and wished to take a proactive response in order to hear how your school communities were impacted and to consider if CRIS might be of support.
An invitation to the meeting was sent to all schools whom CRIS has a direct working relationship, and we were pleased that so many of you responded. Here we will summarise briefly some of what we learned over the course of the meeting to report back and consider actions CRIS might take based on what we heard. As you know, such issues are multi-faceted and reflect dimensions of a systemic nature which are not easily or quickly addressed or resolved. However, we were heartened that a collective desire was expressed not just to accept, ‘nothing can be done’ or to become a bystander when we may have some opportunity to support positive change.
Here you will find a summary (written to ensure anonymity) from the meeting describing how school communities have been impacted in both immediate ways (i.e. emotionally, and physically), as well and in the longer-term (i.e., impact to shared education initiatives, or families with loved ones facing legal proceedings as a result). Concerns were also shared that localities which already suffer from stigma and multiple disadvantages, yet again, become associated with a ‘single story’ about perceived sectarianism, rioting, and violence.
Bearing in mind it is a small charity, CRIS wants to maximise its role and consider ways it could be supportive. We believe there are several distinctive options which emerged out of the meeting and we wish to seek your input prior to proceeding. We recognise the unique context each school may find itself in relations to such sensitive and nuanced matters and therefore would like to offer a few possibilities of support.