Leap Confronting Conflict began life as LEAP, (Leaveners’ Experiments in Arts for Peace) founded in 1987 by British Quaker Alec Davison as a project of The Leaveners (Quaker Community Arts Charity). The Leaveners had evolved in 1978, with a mission to be agents of change who would help ‘raise the creative spirit’ within the Quaker Society using the arts.
The early days: Theatre of Empowerment
In our earliest days, Leap worked with young unemployed adults, using theatre projects to help them deal with the conflict in their lives, at a time when there was little other practical work with young people around the theme of conflict.
Facilitators used creative approaches and theatre to explore the causes and consequences of conflict in young people’s lives. They called this process Theatre of Empowerment, offering not only theatre and drama skills but personal development, group work, conflict resolution and facilitation skills.
They likened this more holistic experience, to making a leap, empowering participants to recognise that they have choices in life and to consider these choices from a new perspective. This was the beginning of Leap’s approach to training and personal development and its continuing emphasis on drama, creativity, and fun.
1998: Leap Confronting Conflict is launched
As well as working directly with young people, Leap began to train those who work with them. The need for such work soon became clear, and the project attracted regional, national, and international recognition. In 1992, the Department for Education and Employment (Youth Service Unit) provided funds to launch Leap as the only conflict resolution centre for the British Youth Service.
Leap started to work in schools and young offenders’ institutions. We ran projects with young homeless people, and began training young peer mediators. Demand for our work soared, and Trustees recognised that the charity needed to change. In 1998, Leap Confronting Conflict was launched as an independent charity, and we have continued to grow ever since.
Today: A new era in conflict navigation
Today, our strategy to engage with more young people is also working with the adults in their lives, including support workers and foster workers. We now work with corporate clients to help their workforces build resilience and leadership skills. We have also expanded to deliver our transformational development programmes in schools, to support young people through a time of transition.
While the nature of conflict is always changing, our tried-and-tested methodology, though informed by over 30 years’ experience, is rooted in the same principles. In our training, we follow our core principles: developing self-awareness of your own relationship conflict, and new strategies to de-escalate conflict and challenging behaviour.