Inspiring learning for a fairer future

Start the Change seminar

Friday, 26 October 2018 13:20

This October we were lucky enough to host our Start the Change partners from around Europe during a seminar looking back on the first year of the project. The 3-day gathering gave us the opportunity to share our success stories, discuss the challenges we'd faced and to explore examples of good practice. We also worked together on our plans for years 2 & 3...and all of that with a ceilidh thrown in for good measure!

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Our seminar, facilitated by Northern Star, was designed to give us the space to get to know each other better as project partners, to work through and explore any challenges we'd come across and then finally, to plan how we can best work together in the next stages of the project. Whilst as partners we're all very different, ranging from Amnesty International in Poland, Italy, Slovakia and elsewhere, to much smaller organisations like ourselves, we are all passionate about Start the Change because of the tangible benefits we believe it is bringing, and will continue to bring, for years to come.

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The main point at which the 'change' comes is through the training the project offers to practitioners in the formal and non-formal sectors (from science teachers to youth group leaders) and how that learning, understanding and knowledge is passed on to young people, equipping them in turn with the tools they need to affect positive change in the world.

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Day 1 began with an introduction from Gianni Cappellotto, General Coordinator of Start the Change, as he set the scene, reiterating why there was a pressing need for such a project. He stressed how necessary our work is at a time when we face seemingly unsurmountable global challenges and when public perceptions of migration (and many issues) are shaped or influenced by agendas that do not have the best interest of the planet or its people at heart. Through education, understanding and collaboration, he explained, we can improve the outcomes not only for those people who have chosen, or been given little choice, to move to a new 'home' but for all of us; given that we share the same planet, resources, communities and ultimately the same futures.

We also heard from the project's evaluators and took time to reflect on their findings as well as how we had worked together as partners on a large, wide-reaching European project.

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On Day 2 one of the main focuses was to share practice and deepen our understanding of the connections between migration and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs or 'Global Goals'), looking particularly at how we can help practitioners to bring these issues to life with young people. As part of this we explored how each of our partners had approached this in their own work. The varied contexts in which we operate meant that each was able to contribute a unique perspective; from the challenges of working with practitioners in settings perhaps less obviously affected by migration, to those where the impact is very apparent. Making the connections with the SDGs means that whatever setting we're working in, there is relevance and a 'real-world' context for learning.

A simple example of this is drawing the lines between climate change and migration. When young people (or any of us) come to learn that the things we consume, buy and use everyday have an impact on not just the local but the global climate, it's easier to understand that there is a direct connection to migration, given that many people are migrating because of the effects of climate change, be they flooding, drought, storms etc. One of the aims of the project is to provide this broader context and a fuller picture so that we see the clear connections between each other's lives and experiences.

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Throughout the seminar we made time to find out more about each other's organisations and this proved invaluable, giving us the opportunity to better understand the expertise or the viewpoints that particular groups or individuals might be bringing to the overall project. On Day 3 we looked towards the future, using all that we'd learnt about each other to help shape the direction the project will take, particularly through year 2. Splitting into groups that corresponded to our individual roles (i.e. Education Officers, Youth Officers etc.) we worked on timelines for the next phase of the project, clearly identifying milestones, responsibilities and any support we might need or be able to offer each other.

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And finally...a visit to the Highlands wouldn't have been complete without a ceilidh - thanks to our very own Morag (and friends), we gave our European guests a proper evening of Scottish celebration! And it didn't take too many Gay Gordons and Dashing White Sargeants to entice them up on to the stage too!

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We'll have more updates on Start the Change throughout the rest of the project.

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