On 7 to 8 September, 20 SOLIDAR members and partners met at the Volunteering Matters training centre in Ipswich, United Kingdom, for the 2017 edition of the SOLIDAR Training Academy on “Intercultural education, civic engagement and peaceful coexistence: learning how to build inclusive communities”. Organised in cooperation with our British member Volunteering Matters, the 2017 SOLIDAR Training Academy brought together members from 13 different countries.
The main aim of this activity was to provide a common space for exchange and cooperation among SOLIDAR members and to support young staff members, volunteers and activists in addressing the challenges of seeking integration and peaceful coexistence at the local level. This year’s edition of the Training Academy has offered a space to participants to share ideas and learn from each other about how to build inclusive communities upholding the values of democracy, human rights, peace and tolerance.
During the two-day event, SOLIDAR members provided very valuable input to the discussions on intercultural coexistence and civic engagement and participated in dynamic workshops on how civic engagement and activism at local level have an impact on intercultural coexistence and migrant integration at global level. The principal outcome was the agreement among SOLIDAR members that in order to build more cohesive, inclusive and equal societies we shall foster integration through promoting equal access to economic, social and cultural rights, and by providing access to education and training for all.
On the first day Training Academy participants were welcomed by representatives of SOLIDAR and Volunteering Matters Ipswich, and the Mayor of Ipswich, Sarah Barber. After being introduced to each other, the participants attended a workshop on formal and non-formal education as a means of integration for migrants. Working in teams, SOLIDAR members shared best practices in their organisations and worked together on their ideal inclusive projects for migrant integration into national labour markets and education systems.
On the second day, the Training Academy was joined by Julie Ward, Member of the European Parliament and Oonagh Aitken, Volunteering Matters Chief Executive & SOLIDAR Board member as keynote speakers in the discussion on the consequences of Brexit and the future of Europe. Julie Ward recognised the importance of strengthening links and joining forces between CSOs, activists and volunteers to achieve participatory democracy and civic inclusion across Europe. Promotion of civic engagement, outreach and development of local strategies to up-hold democratic values and meaningful integration should become a priority in policy making at all levels around Europe. The participants also took part in two workshops with members from two different Volunteering Matters projects: Learning Matters, on vocational training and non-formal education; and WASSUP, on the prevention of discrimination from a gender perspective.
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