Saturday, 17 February 2018

Interview : Jamahl Peterkin from the Nottingham Peace Project

Humbled by the inspirational comments from Jamahl Peterkin in an interview about the Nottingham Peace Project, which is a non-profit organisation established to build positive communities. Well worth reading....

Q: What is the aim of NPP?

I aim for NPP to become a leader for Nottingham within the community sector, for teenagers and adults providing a range of positive opportunity, experience and improving mental health through Nottingham communities. Providing innovative creative workshops for all ages.

We aim to help young offenders, refugees, women of different faiths, teenagers in deprivation and children with early signs of mental health issues, behavioural disorders or emotional disorders.

We aim to provide work experience and training opportunities for students at university and in collage.

We aim to empower our communities and bring positive change to Nottingham City.

We aim at creating a range of sustainable businesses which help the community and from which profits can go back into supporting Nottingham communities.

Various NPP Events

Q : What was the spark that made you set up the Nottingham Peace Project?

A: Growing up in the deprived areas of Nottingham I know first-hand what it is like to be a teenager with lack of positive male role models, opportunity and resources. Growing up in deprived communities followed by adult health issues and traumatising life situations which lead to poor mental health, lack of self-belief and self-help skills to improve my mental health and life situations my life was spiralling downwards.

Mindfulness and positive thinking changed my life and when I learnt the science behind these life skills at the age of 30 I realised that if teenagers and adults in deprived communities learnt these basic life skills that nobody teaches us as children or in schools then they too can improve their life and well-being. Life skills including, self-love, self-awareness, mindfulness, positive thinking, confidence, self-belief. In July 2013 I was put into an induced comer for 4 weeks. After being in hospital care for 8 weeks, 2 days after being discharged my first daughter was born, I resumed full-time work and my part-time degree 3 months after being through such a traumatic experience and never received any counselling or therapy which in hind-sight was much needed.

After a couple years going by I had noticed that I had destroyed all the close relationships around me, including work relationships, family and friends. I had been suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) unaware for some time and life situations were just building on top, causing more detriment to my mental health. As a sufferer of PTSD I know first-hand how important a healthy mind is and how detrimental an unhealthy mind can be.

In April 2016 my brother passed away and situations at work and home were becoming poor. I started seeing a clinical psychologist as recommended by my doctor. In June 2016 my relationship of 7 years had broken down and I had to move away from my family home. The following months became even more difficult, after raising a grievance at work for unfair treatment I was managed out of my position in December 2016 was not paid any wages the week before Christmas.

The years of suffering with PTSD and difficult life situations had become so much I was just hoping to make it through 2016. Whilst depressed and in a very low place, I stumbled across some videos which completely changed my outlook on life and I quickly learnt how to control my negative detrimental thinking patterns. Since I had been doing counselling at the time and been introduced to mindfulness I had even more faith in what I was watching as it reminded me of what I had already been taught so I followed my instincts and tried something new. This lead to training in life coaching and mindfulness.

Turning my own life around after losing my brother, my family, being in a coma, losing my job made me realise that we need to do more for communities who are not properly equipped with these life skills.

I had an overwhelming urge to create a way I can help communities of Nottingham. Instead of getting back into full-time work and staying depressed I decided to create ‘Nottingham Peace Project’ to bring life coaching and positive opportunity to Nottingham communities.

NPP Poetry Calender

Q: What was the biggest challenge in getting the project started?

A: Funding and being taken seriously. For months I worked voluntarily. Even now I earn significantly less than what I did when working in management and what I could earn going out and getting a job which uses my skill set. The tremendous success we achieved in 2017 now makes us get taken seriously and hopefully more funding and support will open. Our annual activity report can be downloaded at:

Anti Knife Crime event

Q: Which NPP activity do you think has had the most impact?

Music in the park.

Individual and Family Level:

New skill of being able to play keyboard. Including ‘Mary had a little lamb’ ‘Old McDonald’ ‘Fur Elise’ ‘London Bridge’ and learnt how to operate a keyboard and show creative interest in the keyboard. Learn how to play the keyboard on 2 scales.

This has an impact on not only them but also their family and friends, the skills they learn are transferable and may have been discussed with their family and friends. The workshops provide a form a therapy which allows them time to express and vent. The sessions improve their creativity and skill set which they naturally will use through their life. The workshops have provided safe spaces during evenings which promotes positive community social inclusion and diverts away from offending and anti-social behaviour.

Improved confidence, expression and improved creative ability to write poetry, some children had learning difficulties and learnt letters whilst learning to play the keyboard. Learn how to play the drums. Children and families where out in the park getting fresh air for 2 hours.

Community and Social Level:

The family fun days and music in the park keyboard stations in green spaces have brought communities together improving community cohesion and inclusion in the area. Families have been travelling to different areas and parks to take part and positive creative engagement provided for all. Over 20 families have provided email address and signed up to future music in the park activities. Social inclusion and meeting new people. Total number attended over duration of project 204. Average 29 per session.

The community is more musical minded but now towards playing instruments. The project has helped many families in the community teach their children how to play instruments. The community appreciate keyboards and instruments more.

Organisational Level:

Showing organisation in Nottingham that youth work, community work and music can be brought to outdoor spaces for all to get involved. This saves money on room hire and allows more people to get involved. We have seen many local organisations take events and workshops to the parks and outdoor spaces since we have done this and encouraged others to do so.

Letting Nottingham see that these events should be for all and everybody. Not exclusively people who know about the event through a friend and sign up and return every week. Everybody in the community should have the opportunity to engage in Park Live events. We inspire Nottingham to make opportunities accessible to deprived areas of the community.

Levels of Impact

Q: What single government policy change would do the most to help young people?

A: The young people in our city are the future of our city. The government need to understand to improve life in the city or the country they need to start investing more into young people. Policies to make schools more accountable for quality and not quantity. Qualitative schooling not based on quantitative exam results.

Young people become criminals or low achievers because of lack of self-belief, love and positive role models. Putting them in prison or detention or exclusion only further exasperates this issue.

NPP Music Events

Q: Anything else you particularly want to get across?
The council have supported me and so have local funding streams however grass roots organisations are made to jump through hoop after hoop after hoop to a degrading and demoralising length to get support to help the community. This leads to competition and disarray throughout the voluntary sector. Incorrect distribution of resources to large organisations that are not at grass root level in the community making an impact like the smaller organisations who really care about helping the community.

Mindfullness Events

Q: What the dreams and hopes of NPP looking forwards?

A: We dream of establishing a chain of Nottingham Peace Project ethos organisations to further support the community.

Alternative Provision for excluded teenagers – We hope to open a creative learning experience for excluded children and teenagers and help them improve their social and emotional well-being, life skills and get them back into education or develop them to go on to further education and be empowered.

Health and Well-being centre – We dream of opening a NPP health and well-being centre in the heart of deprived communities which is affordable and free to those who need to improve their emotional resilience and health and well-being.

Care home – We dream of opening a NPP residential home for children in care, with creative and therapeutic themes and activities at its core.

Box Smart - a very popular scheme

Special Question : What do you think is the best thing about the UK?

A: In all fairness regardless of the cuts, poverty and the state doing the best they can to keep people of JSA and benefits in the most repugnant manner - the welfare system, NHS and democracy of UK is most definitely what keeps us above the rest. Which is why it does not make sense for the government to want to cut these areas as this is what makes UK great. Taking care of its people in need, having a democracy and a welfare state. This is what makes a country great, a state that supports and cares for its citizens.