Empowerment for social Change

The main objective of this project is to empower trainers as CHANGE AGENTS within their own local context to deal with discrimination, to share and develop an educational, conceptional and methodological basis on which to develop an effective EMPOWERMENT FOR SOCIAL CHANGE training approach which can then be used as the basis for developing practical tools such as manuals, articles, videos, booklets and other training aides which are to be communicated in a variety of different ways to maximize the impact and sustainability of this initiative.

The project will develop and disseminate material that can be used in the facilitation of anti-discrimination work, including a blog, a manual and articles. During the exchange meetings experiences with proven empowering anti-discrimination strategies and approaches will be shared and on basis of this exchange concrete products will be developed. The dissemination of findings will happen in the last year of the project. Expert meetings, conferences, workshops, publications and trainings will be organized.

History and seeds

As four individuals from four different countries (Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Great Britain) we met through a Grundtvig funded train-the-trainer workshop in 2011. There we decided to cooperate in a common project and we applied for Grundtvig funding.  We wanted to share approaches and methods on empowerment with associated trainers of each organisation. The application was approved in 2012 under the "European Power and Peace Project" and these four persons became coordinators of the project. Unfortunately the British partner could not take part due to organisational matters. However we involved a Austrian partner who the Dutch partner had already worked with on a previous Grundtvig partnership. The Dutch partner took the role of the coordinator of the whole partnership.

In this collaboration on the European Power and Peace Project, our network collected and analyzed European good practice examples tackling the overlap of social inclusion and active citizenship. Outreach methods and approaches were analyzed and main trends and success factors identified. We had four meetings, one in each country and built up a network of engaged trainers in each country. This group found a very efficient and innovative way to share, test and develop new methods and approaches. Members of the group are very often discriminated against themselves. Therefore they are CHANGE AGENTS in their minority groups (discriminated because of culture, religion, sex, age, health etc.) and as trainers at the same time. The meetings empowered them to face challenges in their professional as well as in their private lives. Linking these levels together also enabled them to professionalize both aspects in a positive way.


Sharing our different approaches and methods has helped us to form this very functional group. We have now decided that we want to build on and deepen this unique cooperation. In this new project we want to produce sustainable innovative products so as to be able to widen the professional impact of our collaboration together. We also want to use this approach as a way of improving the level of participation and involvement of our external trainers and participants as well as through the multipliers events and learning and training activities so empowering them to work more effectively. We also decided to include more partners and as we already know Mike Holdgate from the UK and know we can work with him in the same efficient, reliable and inspiring way we have worked together in the past we have included him in this new partnership bid.

We have also included a new South African partner in this project as we hope to share experiences and learn from each other so as to broaden and deepen our collaborative network and mutual learning. They will add value as they bring their broad experience  and knowledge of finding innovative ways of changing the mindsets of people who have lived for decades in a segregated society in which discrimination and exclusion was the norm. Changing the mindsets that are ingrained in both the white and black population because of historic reasons has been a very hard and ongoing process.  Concepts and methods shared enable to broaden the national limits, the trainers usually work in and provide an access to new approaches and ideas.Thus the trainers are enabled to professionalize their work. Furthermore working in a field with many obstacles these exchanges provide a big encouragement for the involved trainers: A feeling like: even all over Europe people work sucessfully on issues I do, too - I am to alone.


Mission

An important mission of all participating organizations is to confront discrimination and exclusion, promoting equality and diversity within society.  The trainers of the participating organizations work within a number of varied social settings, from schools to neighbourhoods, working with different target groups,  such as individuals from both minority and majority background, young and old, professionals and the general public. In all such training settings trainers can be considered as CHANGE AGENTS promoting a change towards equality and diversity. As CHANGE AGENTS, they are often confronted with various forms of discrimination and prejudice.  To be effective as CHANGE AGENTS trainers need to be empowered so as to be able to confront discrimination and prejudice not only in their professional but also in their private lives and the communities where they are engaged.

The objectives of the meetings that trainers will attend are to create a safe environment for the trainers to share their individual life experiences of dealing with discrimination and exclusion in the various contexts that they interact. Learning from proven practical strategies that have worked to confront discrimination whilst drawing up empowering approaches to challenging and confronting these issues in a way that not only helps them in their professional lives but also empowers them as active citizens living in increasingly complex and diverse communities. Individual empowerment is a process of personal development a transition from a feeling powerless, to an ability to take appropriate action. To change society you need to empower not only the individual but also the social groups to which people belong.