We are delighted to announce that our Founder, Marina Cantacuzino has been awarded an MBE for services to victims of trauma and abuse in the Queen’s Birthday honours list. An MBE is given for an outstanding achievement or service to the community, which will have a long-term, significant impact and stand out as an example to others.
In response to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, Marina then a journalist, embarked on a personal project collecting stories of people who had experienced trauma and injustice, but sought alternatives to revenge.
This led to the creation of The F Word exhibition, launched at the Oxo Gallery in London. As a result of the extraordinary feedback from visitors, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Dame Anita Roddick, Marina was driven to create The Forgiveness Project to explore the power of ‘restorative narratives’ to transform lives, not only supporting people to overcome unresolved grievances, but also building a climate of hope and empathy.
Marina’s unique and radical work is a study in compassion, underpinned by her belief in the possibility of change.
Marina realised quickly that one of the key places to develop the work should be with prisoners, so often the survivors of trauma and abuse themselves. In 2005 she piloted the first intensive group-based intervention on storytelling and rehabilitation in HMP Brixton and set off a wave of interest in other prisons. This programme became the award-winning RESTORE.
One of the reasons RESTORE is unique is that Marina realised that having officers and serving prisoners participate together in the programme allows them to step out of the normal roles required within incarceration which significantly supports and strengthens these relationships. It also supports the storytellers who describe the positive benefits of working together for a common goal and how helpful and healing to their own recovery it has been.
Marina’s conviction in the power of story is evidenced across the various platforms of The Forgiveness Project – as well as RESTORE this includes publications, educational resources, international exhibitions and public events.
Marina is driven tirelessly by her belief that hardened attitudes start to shift when we hear the stories of others. Her passion and courage in the face of a vengeful world became a calling to others. Her dedication continues to enthuse the existing team, as well as the storytellers she has connected with.
She has been an inspiration to so many, with our Patron, the actor Emma Thompson calling TFP, ‘one of the most important projects in the world today’.
Director of The Forgiveness Project
9 October 2020