Our work with the Somali diaspora has been in partnership with Somali Initiatives for Dialogue and Democracy and Initiatives of Change and has involved running a series of intergenerational dialogues for the community based in Finsbury Park, North London.
This programme of dialogues stemmed from consultations with the Somali community across the UK, and realising that one of the biggest divides faced by the community is intergenerational, with 2nd generational Somalis in London more invested in their lives here, speaking English and facing the economic and social challenges familiar to many young people in Britain. Older Somalis are less invested in British society, with lower levels of English and many still hoping to return home at some point in the future.
These challenges cause conflicting identities across generations. There is a lack of understanding across generations of the challenges faced in daily life. Often these conflicts remain unaddressed in families, affecting both younger and older Somalis. These challenges could be addressed in a safe and secure space of facilitated dialogue, giving opportunity for new ways of communicating, and focusing on building empathy and fresh understanding across age groups.
The dialogues included sharing personal stories both within and between generations and sharing case studies of intergenerational reconciliation; separate facilitated groups of older and younger participants, creating a list of concerns to deliver to the other generation, facilitated mixed-generation groups to brainstorm ideas for working on these concerns together and a chance to share these concerns with political and community representatives, including Islington Borough Council and Jeremy Corbyn MP.
The second strand of our work with the Somali diaspora has involved supporting a new group that has emerged from the Agenda for Reconciliation network of Initiatives of Change, Nabad Curiye (Creators of Peace in Somali). Their aim is to grow peacebuilding and conflict transformation skills among both the Somali diaspora in London and back home in Somalia. Our support to Nabad Curiye has included pro-bono trauma training, with a chance to ask questions about facing trauma within communities, how it can be recognized and acknowledged and both the challenges and the possibilities for transferring skills across cultures.