AN organisation formed to promote peace, reconciliation and cultural harmony in the wake of the summer riots in Burnley and Oldham and the events of September 11 has made a Christmas appeal to the people of the North West.

Professor John Ashton, regional director of public health, who initiated Common Ground North West, said that eliminating conflict, hatred and misunderstanding in communities promotes health and well-being.

And he called for a massive effort to achieve peace and community harmony.

"At this Christmas time of reflection and good intentions, we need to make a commitment to change in 2002," said Professor Ashton.

"It has never been more important to bring people together to work for a better world and we are making a start here in the North West. I invite everyone to engage with us in the New Year."

Professor Ashton said that over 30 years ago Albert Schweitzer, the visionary, if eccentric biologist, said that man had lost the ability to foresee and forestall and would end up destroying the world.

" His words were an insight which is particularly chilling now," said Professor Ashton.

"September 11 has brought home to us how small the world has become and the urgency with which we must learn to live with each other.

"We must also reconcile ourselves to the enormous problems occurring in the natural world through global warming."

Common Ground North West brings together a diverse range of organisations and individuals who will pool their skills, extensive experience and contacts to help communities and projects in the North West.

The aim is to improve the quality of life, promote a celebration of diversity rather than fear of differences and offer advice on conflict avoidance and resolution.

The network will also promote good leadership and seek to influence political decision makers to address community issues appropriately.