David Moorhead, Head of RE, Sacred Heart Catholic College, Liverpool.
” Jo Berry has visited Sacred Heart Catholic College in Liverpool. She gave talks to Year 11 in 2014 and then did a day’s workshop with Year 12 and 13 in 2017. I was very impressed by her as a person, a public speaker and the positive effect she had on the students. Jo begins each session with her own retelling of the events that led to the death of her father and how she then met his killer and started working with him to form a peace charity. It is an incredibly moving account that is very honest, calm and presented in language that all the students could follow. The students and staff were very moved and acknowledged that this was very genuine. Jo is using her voice to make a difference and the students appreciate how hard and courageous this is.
The students have their own voice but often it is centred on school life, especially exams and friendship groups in the school community. The sessions with Jo enabled the students to air their views about society. Not only did the students have passionate views on issues but they grew in confidence when they gave presentations and made protest art. I think this is great aspect of Jo’s work, which may be undervalued, is her effect on young people and their self-esteem. They really enjoyed and engaged in debate about issues that concerned them from ocean pollution, manipulation of capitalism, human rights, war, drugs and censorship. I would highly recommend Jo Berry to speak in any school as she is an impressive role model for positive action and change.”
From a young person at Sacred Heart Catholic College:
“Jo Berry was a delight to meet and I thoroughly enjoyed learning about her experience with terrorism and how she overcame her battle. Her journey to forgiveness was inspiring and it was refreshing to hear someone use peace and forgiveness rather than revenge in order to receive closure over the death of a loved one. Her views on how to react when you have been affected by terrorism made me look at current events in a different light and perspective. Jo was very accepting of all types of people and she repeatedly stated that she believed that young people are capable of changing the future rather than destroying it, which is not a common conception of youth among an older generation. The fact that she had faith in all of us gave me motivation to make a change in the world no matter how small that may be.”
Shahda Khan MBE | Strategic Cohesion & Migration Manager| Supporting Communities
“Jo Berry was the key note speaker at our ‘Love Your Neighbour’ event and her contribution was definitely the highlight of the day! We received so much positive feedback most of which commented on how timely and necessary Jo’s story is, especially in the current climate. The simple yet compelling way that Jo shared her story was very impactive and reduced many of the very diverse audience to tears.
The workshop that Jo delivered to the Students at Acklam Grange will stay with those young people for a very long time. The students had an opportunity to hear a credible, alternative voice and were able to ask questions in a very safe space. These workshops are an excellent way of engaging young people on a very challenge and emotive subject.”
Louise Ash Organiser Meaning Conference 2016
“Jo’s story is a remarkable one that has a profound and palpable effect on audiences. Her quietly powerful and authentic delivery underpins the message beautifully. At a time when compassion and empathy is so very much needed in our divided societies this story will make a valuable and thought-provoking addition to any line-up.”
‘It was interesting to see how people who have been hurt hugely by someone can forgive that person and be able to offer sessions for students sharing their experience. It makes me think of people who have hurt me in the past and I how I have held a front and not been able to forgive them. Thinking of Jo’s situation made me realise no matter what happened in the past, there is always room for forgiveness in order to help the greater good. The session was really helpful and I really hope other students get the chance to hear about Jo’s experience so they can learn a significant skill in life.’
Young people from Langdon Park School
“The session with Jo taught me how holding grudges can only hurt yourself. This is something that we all should be taught; how we make mistakes but we should learn to move past these mistakes and give people second chances. Because making mistakes and wrong choices is what makes us human.”
“The session delivered by Jo was truly uplifting and inspiring. It has given me a greater understanding of the good that can emerge from even the worst situations. At first sight we were all shocked over the fact that two individuals in their position could be good friends, but eventually came to understand why. Jo helped every single student that day understand just how hard a situation like hers can be to deal with and just how much kindness and forgiveness she herself must have. I believe that these kinds of sessions could have the biggest impact on the young people of the country. They could help keep young people on the right paths so that they wouldn’t resort to violence or extremism and, instead, would work to prevent it in any way possible, just like we want to do now.”
“With the current political situation of very polar arguments, I found it incredibly inspiring to hear Jo speak with great honesty and forgiveness. For the young people there to be able to witness that, I hope showed them the massive potential there is for apparently normal people to do amazing things, and how the power of humanity and friendship can transform.”
Sean Rumsey (Lead on behaviour support in the school)
“I have been blessed enough to meet many amazing people in this world, but Jo truly astounded me with her level of compassion and sincerity and dedication to this work. To still forge forward while dealing with estrangement from close family is so courageous; I can’t even imagine being able to do it. Conflict is so often seen in black and white, and I tend to see the world that way as well. But Jo helped me to see that conflicts are almost never a matter of right vs. wrong, but perspective vs. perspective.
She was brave enough to listen to the pain of someone who caused her unimaginable pain, and she uses that to touch other people’s lives everyday. She is an inspiration to us all, and I am so happy to have had the chance to speak with her.”
From our trip to Israel and Palestine:
‘You prove that humanity wins over brutality, we as Palestinian and Israeli people need more people like you to learn that it’s possible’
‘Your story is very inspiring, and I feel that it has a great significance to what is happening here in Israel / Palestine, and might have a great impact on our struggle to end the occupation and for the process of understanding and reconciliation between the two peoples’
‘Your story, along with the way you present it and offer it to us for reaction and identification, is a rare gem in the jungle of violence, animosity and “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth”. By coming all this way to share your experiences, along with the deep-seated emotions that they evoke, you have performed a most noble act of true humanistic education, a voice of hope, reconciliation and of peace’
“A term which is usually used to describe the understanding of another’s perspective, we rarely see empathy embodied in our everyday world. Yet to hear Jo Berry speak about how she was able to understand the motives of the man who killed her father I was clearly reminded of its true definition; to listen without judgement. This, I believe, is a lesson anybody and everybody could apply to their everyday life.”
“It was a great way to gain a greater level of insight into such an emotional and poignant part of political history. It was inspirational to hear Jo’s hope in humanity is still intact and that the process of reconciliation was so successful”