The Forgiveness Project is a UK based charity that uses storytelling to explore how ideas around forgiveness, reconciliation and conflict resolution can be used to impact positively on people’s lives, through the personal testimonies of both victims and perpetrators of crime and violence. Our aim is to provide tools that facilitate conflict resolution and promote behavioural change. Central to the work is our commitment to work with ex-offenders and victims of crime as a way of modeling a restorative process. To achieve this we:
• Collect & share real stories of forgiveness and reconciliation to help individuals transform the pain and conflict in their own lives.
• Run a restorative justice programme in prisons helping build community resilience by working with victims to rehabilitate offenders.
• Create resources for schools to educate young people about peaceful solutions to conflict.
To open up a dialogue about forgiveness and promote understanding through awareness, education and transformation.
- Awareness – raise the debate about forgiveness by collecting and sharing personal stories.
- Education – encourage and empower people to explore the nature of forgiveness and alternatives to conflict and revenge
- Transformation – engage civil society, as well as transform hearts and minds
To find out more about our activities choose PROJECTS from the navigation buttons at the top of the page.
What is Forgiveness?
The Forgiveness Project’s highly acclaimed exhibition, The F Word, shows all too clearly that forgiveness means many different things to different people. It is deeply personal, often private and far from the soft option many take it to be. The stories on this website show that often forgiveness is difficult, costly, painful – but potentially transformative.
Above all, forgiveness must be a choice because to expect someone to forgive can victimize them all over again. Forgiveness is also a journey and not a destination: in other words it is rarely a one-off, fixed event or a single magnanimous gesture in response to an isolated offence. It is part of a continuum of human engagements in healing broken relationships.
You can forgive small acts or big acts; acts against an individual , or a group, or a god. Such acts may or may not be crimes, for example adultery or betrayal.
Forgiveness is often considered the mental, and/or spiritual process of relinquishing resentment, indignation or anger against another person for a perceived offense, or ceasing to demand punishment. It is quite separate from justice (meted out by the state through the courts or some other delegated authority). But forgiveness does not preclude justice.
Many stories in The F Word exhibition show that forgiveness can be a useful life skill which can liberate a person who has been hurt, releasing them from the grip of the perpetrator. It is connected with acceptance and moving on. Some have said forgiveness is ‘giving up all hope of a better past.’ In this sense forgiveness is also an act of self-healing, rather than an act of kindness towards someone who has hurt you.
In some contexts, forgiveness may be granted without any expectation of compensation, and without any response from the perpetrator (for example, you can forgive a person who shows no remorse or a person who is dead). In other contexts, it may be necessary for the perpetrator to offer some form of acknowledgment, an apology and/or reparation in order for the wronged person to believe they are able to forgive,
Finally, forgiveness does not condone or excuse the action. It is a gift from one individual to another. It is therefore debatable whether institutions, governments or nameless officials can actually be forgiven. Some say that with extreme offenses while you may forgive a person for what he or she has done, the act itself remains unforgivable.