Helping some of the world’s most troubled regions from the tranquillity of The Close in Norwich

Tom Hockley, a consultant in international development working with governments recovering from conf

Tom Hockley, a consultant in international development working with governments recovering from conflicts, back at home in Norwich.Picture by SIMON FINLAY. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

The peace and tranquillity of Norwich Cathedral's surroundings may seem a world away from the bloody conflict in Ukraine.

But few of the worshippers and tourists who visit The Close every day will be aware that it is the base for one man's efforts to help some of the world's most trouble war zones and natural disaster areas recover.

Tom Hockley, who grew up in Bramerton, south-east of Norwich, has worked for the British government and the UN in areas such as Ethiopia, Sudan and Sri Lanka.

But now the 50-year-old has returned to Norwich with his wife and two children after about 15 years living mainly in Africa and Asia as an international development consultant, and now works as a freelance consultant.

He usually works in post-conflict situations, but since August has spent three week-long spells in Kiev, where the government is in a live battle with Russian-backed forces for control of territory in the east of the country.

He said if the Ukrainian government can restore services in the eastern areas they still control, people are more likely to look for support from the central government, rather than from Russia.

He said: 'We also try to nudge them to think about the reasons why these places were in conflict in the first place. Are there other things in terms of local reconciliation? Are there things we can do apart from rebuilding roads and buildings to get you to a better place than you were before?'

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He could not say it was likely Kiev would take back its territory, and thought the conflict could end up as part of a wider stand-off between Russia and the west, which could last for decades.

Ukraine is not the only conflict being addressed from The Close, and Mr Hockley also has work in Gaza, and will this week fly to Cairo to advise the League of Arab States on an early warning system for crises.

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