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International volunteering project to improve lives of young people

A new project to improve young people’s integration within society in countries across the world has been launched at Leeds Beckett University, thanks to a student’s international volunteering placement. 

Westside Circus participants build a thigh wall

Leeds Beckett University has partnered with a host of not-for-profit youth organisations to run a two-year programme of international exchanges for young people, and shared learning for volunteers, entitled ‘Leave No One Behind’.

The collaboration began when Leeds Beckett University BA (Hons) Youth Work and Community Development graduate Charlotte Burgess took on a European Voluntary Service (EVS) placement with the Swedish volunteer-based organisation, IFALL - Integration För Alla - during her degree. IFALL - which promotes social integration across Sweden - are the leaders of the new project.

Charlotte said: “I first connected with IFALL Sweden in Greece, in November 2014, through an Erasmus+ training course. It was a great networking opportunity as while I was there I was offered the chance to do my third year placement of my degree in Sweden.

“I then spent a year on another volunteering project in Sweden before being offered a job opportunity as a project coordinator working in Sweden on Erasmus+ projects. It's a really flexible and open job as I can write projects about any current topics affecting young people - which is why I decided to write the Leave No One Behind project and involve Leeds Beckett, for their academic expertise in youth work and social inclusion.” 

The IFALL team

The team are joined by partners:

All partners have expertise in working with young people to avoid them feeling excluded from society: including refugees, asylum seekers, vulnerable children and those with disabilities or who struggle with more formal forms of education. 

The diverse partners specialise in anything from filmmaking and performing arts to video games, sport and circus skills.

The project has received €150,000 of funding from the Erasmus+ programme and will run until October 2020.

Dr Erika Laredo, Senior Lecturer in the School of Health and Community Studies at Leeds Beckett, explained: “The aim of the project is to blend social inclusion with non-formal education and expand the experience that other partners in the network have - sharing ideas and tools across the world.”

Neco Necmettin Meletli, Manager of IFALL, added: “That ‘no one will be left behind’ is a commitment of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In every country, people and social groups still face obstacles stopping them from completely contributing in social, economic and political life.

“Through job shadowing and youth exchanges, we will empower people with the skills and motivation to create sustainable and quality new activities in each country.”

Leave No One Behind will see two youth exchange programmes take place over the next two years, in Cambodia and Turkey, a skills exchange workshop in Sweden, and ten job shadowings across the organisations.

There will also be four EVS opportunities within the international organisations, open to anyone aged 18 to 30 – including Leeds Beckett University students.

The Leeds Beckett team will be observing each stage of the project, offering advice and evaluating its success.

For more information, please click here.  

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