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Vote for iSpeak project to break down communication barriers between people using Sign language and those using verbal language

iSpeak logo

We currently support a great project developed by young people from our community: iSpeak!

The iSpeak application will provide an effective tool for Deaf without speech and aurally impaired people who use sign language, to communicate with hearing people unable to use sign language. It helps break down communication barriers in everyday life situations such as hospitals, job centres, restaurants, shops. Thus, deaf and aurally impaired people can express themselves through the application, reducing the communication and social barriers they face and in doing so giving them independence.

We have submitted  an entry to the Aviva Community Fund, we now need votes from as many people as possible to increase our chances of winning  this funding.

Please, click here, register, log in and if you like iSpeak project vote for us! (up 10 votes per person).

Watch the iSpeak video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zkQ9NmMlBmk&feature=youtu.be


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Youth In Action - PROMOTE

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Merseyside Expanding Horizons (MEH)  and Centro per lo Sviluppo Creativo “Danilo Dolci”  are partners in a European project funded under the Youth in Action programme sub-action 4.3 that supports the mobility of Youth Workers in Europe. The 12 month project called PRoMOTE: New Perspectives through Mobility and Exchange involves the exchange of 2 youth workers from the UK and Italy.

Both youth workers have worked at local and European level in the delivery of projects within the field of youth work. The placements in the UK and Italy provided the opportunity for both youth workers to experience a new intercultural experience whilst gaining new professional and intercultural skills and competences in their vocational field.

After the completion of both placements, we asked our youth workers, Rosina Ndukwe from the UK and Anna Bellan from Italy to interview each other about the their experience of working at MEH and CSC Centro Danilo Dolci respectively and the impact the project has made on their professional and personal growth. 


1.   What are the 3 main features of the PRoMOTE project for you?

Rosina: For me, the PRoMOTE project is about offering new opportunities for youth workers to develop their professional skills, to give youth workers the opportunity to experience a different working reality and cultural experience by carrying out a youth work mobility in a different country and to support Youth Worker professionals to gain a deeper understanding of youth work in Europe

Anna: The first feature comes to my mind is the opportunity to explore a different way to work as a Youth Worker in a different organisation with  target groups of which needs may differ according the culture and the national policies. Furthermore, I improved my intercultural and linguistic skills. Moreover, in a different  European culture I was able to recognise that across Europe, different organisations share values and objectives, hence it strengthened my belonging to European culture.   

2.   How have you grown from a professional point of view due to the PRoMOTE project?

Rosina: Yes I have grown a lot from the experience of working in another country. I have received a lot of peer support from other youth workers and colleagues at CSC Danilo Dolci and this has helped me to explore common ways of working whilst learning new methods and tools to respond to particular challenges facing young people in Europe e.g. youth unemployment. The opportunity to collaborate and exchange good practices with other professionals in my field and work closely with young volunteers from Palermo and other European countries has enabled me to be more creative in my work and contribute to new ideas for new projects.

Anna: PRoMOTE made an enormous impact on my professional and personal growth. As I work in international projects, improving my English was a very important point for me; therefore I raised my employment opportunities and my project writing skills in English. I extended my practices and tools  by working with other Youth workers and I expanded my network. In few words… I expanded my horizons!    

3.   Have you changed due to this experience? What changes have occurred due to this experience?

Rosina: I have definitely become more confident in my youth work and awareness of my own skills and what is needed for my professional development. I have seen the value of active citizenship and impact on local communities. I have been really fortunate to have been involved in a wide range of different projects and activities during my placement at CSC Danilo Dolci including, ENPI project SlowMed and LLP Comenius project Carem and the development of new ideas for Youth in Action training courses. Working at local level with different social partners whilst meeting other youth workers, youth trainers and young learners from across Europe has strengthened the European dimension to my youth work. Communicating in Italian language was a big achievement for me. I was quite nervous at first because I thought I would not be to communicate effectively but everyone has been really supportive. Learning Italian has been very worthwhile and I have enjoyed learning Italian and I attended an Italian language course at the School of Foreigners in Palermo which was very useful!

Anna: Of course I changed! I changed from both a social and a professional point of view! Firstly, I will never see English people as I could do before! … I’m now more aware about stereotypes concerning English people. Through all the projects were I was involved in I explored new tools. At the beginning it was very difficult to communicate due to my English level, but now I can attend meetings, writing projects and also facilitate a group of young people even if they don’t speak my native language! I am more confident in my professional skills.

4.   How has this project changed the way you approach your work and your professional perspective?

Rosina: Yes definitely. The experience has exposed me to new and innovative non-formal learning methods to foster active participation of young people and how to adopt different communication strategies with young people using social media. It has been interesting to learn about the difference in the national infrastructure support in Italy compared to the UK which impacts on youth work at local level. I worked a lot with young migrant young people in Palermo and it has also been very valuable to learn about the different support services and national agenda for immigration impacting on migrant youth and their employability. Working with volunteers at CSC Danilo Dolci from other countries has helped me to learn from other mobility experiences which have been very motivating and inspirational. From my experience I hope to inspire other youth workers and young people from ethnic minorities to participate in similar projects.

Anna: I have been worked with young people with a migrant background for all the period of my mobility and it was a great opportunity for me exchanging with other Youth workers about the methodologies, especially because the laws framework is so different from the Italian one. In INSART project (LLP project) for example we had to reach a very vulnerable target group, some of our participants were not able to attend regularly to our workshops due the Home Office restrictions. Exploring the English Youth workers’ solutions developed during their experience was very interesting for me.        

5. What would you bring back to your home from your host city?

Rosina: I would bring back new methods to support the development of young people’s skills. I have really enjoyed learning about the history of the organisation and the work of Danilo Dolci in particular the Reciprocal Maieutic Approach (RMA) method. I am definitely looking forward to applying it in my youth work in the future. Of course I would also bring back all the amazing Sicilian food to Liverpool and the wonderful beaches!

Anna: I would bring back the scouse (from Liverpool) smile and mood, culture accessibility (several free museums and festivals!). An English approach in the work relationships, especially concerning the lack of formalities between people covering different hierarchical places who can communicate easily even when they meet for the first time. Also, I would bring back a serious supportive National system, with their funds and their practices.      

6. Were your expectations at the start of the project fully met by your experience?

Rosina: Yes. Actually it has exceeded my expectations! I have been able to benefit greatly from the project. The experience has helped me to learn about new learning opportunities and career opportunities to continue to support my professional growth in the youth field. It has increased my professional contacts in the youth field in Europe which I feel I would not have had the chance to do so before the PRoMOTE project.

Anna: Of Course! More than that! Due this experience I know different approaches, I now know I can work in different contexts and share my knowledge. Thanks to the Youth in Action programme,  Merseyside Expanding Horizons, and  CSC Danilo Dolci,  I feel I gained more experience in my sector and developed other useful soft skills.

7. What would you suggest to a new Youth worker from your home city who is starting an internship in your host city tomorrow?

Rosina: Don’t be afraid! Palermo is a great place with so much to offer. It is a very friendly city and there is a lot to see and do. There is a great youth sector in which you can make lots of new professional contacts and learn new methods and approaches to youth work particularly to support vulnerable groups. Make the most of the opportunity and enjoy the experience!

Anna: I would suggest to start from the beginning of the mobility English classes in order to strength their language skills and to facilitate their social and professional inclusion. Also, I would suggest to observe the key cultural customs and to experience them, for example, in the UK a cup of tea it’s not only a cup of hot water with a tea bag, but it’s a way to share time with people. Sharing time with people it’s for me the first way to integrate a new culture.    

8. What are the top tips for settling into your host city?

Rosina: I would say my top tips are to really embrace the new culture. By this I mean try to learn the language, visit the local places, try the local food, make friends from the city who can show you different places that are often unknown by tourists. Importantly, you have to be open-minded and enjoy the experience.

Anna: Firstly: enjoy the very rich cultural life in Liverpool! Visit all museums freely, explore several free festivals carried out in the city and in the region. Visit all nice parks and don’t be afraid or shy face the warm approach of the inhabitants of Liverpool, but try to know a lot of people who can let you introduce to your new city! And… don’t trust the British “on time” stereotypes: the buses for example are always late! The last but not the least: buy a very nice umbrella, it will be your best friend during your mobility in UK! Be open-minded

9.   What have you missed the most about your home city e.g. food, places?

Rosina: I have missed the architecture of my home city, for e.g. the Albert Dock which is the famous Liverpool waterfront of my home city Liverpool, the scouse (Liverpool dialect) accent and humour and roast dinners – a typical Sunday lunch in England! But my wonderful experience has not made me miss these things too much !

I have missed the Sicilian sun, sea and the variety of vegetarian and tasty food you can find in Sicily. But I have also found out that I can survive without all this! 

10. Are you generally satisfied about this exchange? Why?

Rosina: I am extremely satisfied! It has been a wonderful experience and I am so grateful that I was given this opportunity by the Youth in Action programme and MEH and CSC Danilo Dolci. The experience has been invaluable and it has made a big impact on my professional and personal growth. I am continuing to learn, develop exploit my gained knowledge from the results of the project.

Anna: I am very enthusiastic about this experience! I would suggest it to all colleagues! It is a great way to learn more about the Youth field across Europe and to explore new tools and methodologies. 

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INSart 3rd partners meeting in Liverpool

The Belgian, French, German, Italian and British partners of the LLP Grundtvig-funded project INSARTmet in Liverpool from the 5th to the 7th of November 2014.

During the meeting, project coordinators and artists exchanged their views on the artistic workshops that were carried out so far. In the last few months, around 40 young people increased their intercultural, linguistic, interpersonal skills and self-confidence, through the use of plastic arts, photography, dance and theatre.

The partners also met some of the young participants of the British workshop and appreciated their artworks.

The project will carry on with training for social workers, artists, trainers and educators that are willing to expand their knowledge in the field of social integration through art..INSART - Logo no scritta 2

For more information please visit our project website: www.insart.eu and our FB page: https://www.facebook.com/insart.projet?ref_type=bookmark , or write to joe joehemington@expandinghorizons.co.uk

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PRoMOTE -New Perspectives through Mobility and Exchange

In May 2014 Anna Bellan joined MEH for 6 month staff exchange through the project "PRoMOTE  -New Perspectives through Mobility and Exchange” funded through Youth in Action 4.3 Youth Support Systems, Support to Youth Workers' Mobility. Anna tells us about her first impressions of Liverpool life and the general experience of MEH. 

“For me it is the perfect opportunity to gain experience in an English speaking country while improving my management skills in European projects.

First and foremost, I have found MEH to be a really stimulating environment

I like the projects that MEH have and the manner in which they work. MEH supports disadvantaged and marginalized people in synergy with other local and international charity organisations. I received a wonderful welcome, all the staff are friendly and helpful, and the work environment is really inspiring.

I support the coordination and implementation of European and local projects (Insart, Bridging the Gap, Talent Match Access Enterprise…), I also develop projects proposals targeting young people from disadvantaged groups and I’m in charge of developing publicity about MEH and its projects.  

Furthermore Liverpool is a city rich in opportunities.

My social and cultural life is rich thanks to the many opportunities in Liverpool: all museums are free and every week there are musical and cultural events which you can participate in and where you can meet people. People here are particularly friendly, perhaps because just a few years ago Liverpool was poorer and the inhabitants could develop solidarity amongst them and they weren’t so individualist as they maybe in a richer country. Thanks to 3 Universities many students come to study here, and this gives Liverpool a wide international community.  

Also... I became sporty – which I have never been before, but now I utilise the many  parks in my adopted city... by running once a week (I don’t know how long it will go on for!).       

To be honest there is also something that I miss in my country, I come from Sicily, a beautiful island in the Mediterranean Sea… and we have a hot sun. But I can manage this situation, with my new bes and inseparable friend: my dear umbrella!  

So, I take the most from this mobility experience: I learn  a different culture, improve my English and my professional skills whilst changing my habits according to the opportunities  within my new environment… also I contribute to the development of the company with whom I work and I can contribute to fight against some prejudices about my country. It’s a true and complete exchange! I feel so lucky for this opportunity.”

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Europe needs to develop a common strategy against bullying: key message of the 1st Conference of the European Anti-bullying Network

11-12 June, 2014, Athens - More than 500 people across Europe took part in the 1st Conference of the European Anti-bullying Network hosted by the Greek NGO "The Smile of the Child" during a high-level event that was held under the auspices of the Hellenic Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

The conference allowed academia, civil society organizations and national and international governmental organizations to discuss on the serious problem of bullying, exchange good practices in the area and present interesting data and studies on this serious problem. The official establishment of the Network will be announced on 13 June, 2014in an effort to promote a common strategy against bullying and coordinate anti-bullying actions and initiatives.

More specifically, thehigh-level Conference was organized in the framework of the European Anti-bullying Network project that was coordinated by "The Smile of the Child" and was implemented in cooperation with 16 organizations across 12 EU Member States under the funding of the Daphne III Programme of the European Commission.

Highlight of this conference was the speech by Dan Olweus, Professor of Psychology, and world leading researcher in the area of bullying, who provided some interestingfactson the phenomenon and some myths andintervention programs to address bullying in schools. He underlined the importance of analyzing cyber bullying in the right context and revealed that most cases of cyber bullying originate in the school setting. According to him,most students are bullied or bully other children in traditional ways, while he provided evidence showing that there has been no systematic increase in cyber bullying despite the common belief."Bullying among children and youth is a serious problem in most countries but by no means an intractable problem. With knowledge and research-based counter-efforts, it is possible to considerably reduce bullying problems, eliminate much personal suffering and make society save large amounts of money" he highlighted.

In his opening address, "The Smile of the Child" Chairperson Costas Yannopoulos presented the continuous work of the Greek organization in the area of bullying prevention and framed the importance of the initiative of the Greek NGO to establish the European Anti-bullying Networkin cooperation with 16 organizations from 12 EU countries.

A plenary panel discussion co-organized by "The Smile of the Child" and ILGA-Europe focused on the European policies against bullying. Vaso Artinopoulou, Professor of Criminology at Panteion University in Greece presented the European strategy against bullying developed in the framework of the EU-funded project "European Anti-bullying Network" and highlighted the need of a European approach and response on a European level.

Special Rapporteur on Child Protection in Ireland Shannon Geoffrey contributed his expert input analyzing the human rights standards related to school bullying, while the Head of the LGBT Unit in the Council of Europe Eleni Tsetsekou focused on what the Council of Europe can do towards ensuring a violence-free education in Europe. Frank Pierobon, Head of Equal Opportunities in schools from DG Education and Culture, framed the importance of human rights education as a prerequisite for equality, while Joe Koswic from GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network) presented how a global knowledge base on homophobic and transphobic bullying is promoted in the United States.

During the conference, interesting data was also presented showing that Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Greece are the countries with the higher percentage of students being involved in bullying either as victims, bullies and bully-victims among 41 countries across the globe. According to the same study, Sweden is the country with the lowest percentage.

A new poll conducted and presented by BeatBullying shows that more than half (55%) of children in Europe who have been bullied said they became depressed as a result, with over a third saying they harmed themselves (35%) or thought about suicide (38%). The poll of more than 2,000 adults and children from across Europe found that worryingly, 34% of adults thought that bullying is regarded as a ‘normal part of growing up’, and one in six adults (16%) said it is regarded as "character building" by most people in their country.

Studies conducted in Greece show that 6.3% of teenagers have been cyber bullied more than once over the last 4 months, while 40% of teachers believe that the incidents of school violence remain hushed up and 84% of parents that school bullying and violence is on the rise. Equally alarming, professional assistance in Greece is provided to less than 1 in 10 children who experience some sort of violence and victimization.

The conference offered dynamic small group sessions covering wide-range areas in the bullying phenomenon such as cyber-bullying, teen relationships and bullying, prevention projects in schools, teachers’ and students’ perspectives, victimization of children and risk factors for bullying. During the conference participants had the opportunity to attend experiential workshops provided by field workers and professionals, highlighting good practices and educational tools in tackling bullying. These sessions were based on different schools of psychotherapy and techniques such as role playing, expression of feelings and drama therapy and aimed to empower teachers and professionals dealing with bullying incidents.

Photos of this event are available here

See the full agenda of the event here

For further questions please contact: joehemington@expandinghorizons.co.uk

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