Learner Report no 3 – Turkey meeting

My observations following the Project meeting in Romania were further strengthened during the meeting in Turkey, and ironically shared by my Project colleague David who also attended his first meeting in Turkey as a ‘learner’.

My career job was for a highly competitive international business, and therefore my approach and thoughts are influenced by this, albeit they are tempered by working recently in the UK charitable sector.

My first observation is that the history of Romania (and maybe Turkey?) is that in a previously communist/socialist ‘centralist’ State, Community Development/Social Inclusion could properly be the responsibility amongst other Government Departments, of the Regional/Local Education Authority on a ‘top-down’ basis. Thus Community Mentoring might be seen as a form of Adult Education for example. In the UK, the Local Education Authorities would not have a definitive Community Development/Social Inclusion responsibility per se and some of the responsibility would be taken-up by ‘bottom-up’ Third Sector/Charitable organisations through local authority Tenders and Third Party funding bids.

Regardless none of this negates from the Project’s identification of Community Mentoring best practice (maybe represented by more than one model?) and a mentee training programme framework (to be amended to meet local needs).

However my second observation is more of a concern and is very much based on my commercial business background. Increasingly as the Project evolves, I can foresee that the Project objectives will be satisfactorily met. Community Mentoring best practice, despite the cultural, social and political differences in the participating countries, will have been identified. At best, local partners will share this outcome within their own immediate communities and as such the EU investment in the Project could be justified at least in the short-term.

However I feel that this financial investment could be even more financially justifiable if the EU were then to grant national Project participants further funding to promote the agreed Community Mentoring model(s) across their respective countries through identified Regional partners, who in turn with funding over time would do the same within their Regions. Although this would be a very costly exercise overall, in this way the benefits of Community Mentoring would become an integral part of Community Development/Social Inclusion best practice across some of the EU – otherwise I fear that the progress achieved by the end of the current Project will be short-lived, and thus the EU funding of the Project will not prove to be value-for-money over the medium term. If such an outcome was anticipated in a commercial business environment, I doubt whether the initial Project proposal and associated funding would have been agreed.

I would recommend that these concerns and sentiments are included in the final Project report.

by UK Learner (Kaleidoscope, UK)

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Learner Report no 2 – Turkey meeting

What did you learn/become more aware of?

That there was more to turkey than Bodrum and Antalya..The tourist states.  I became aware of the religious value that exists in Turkey.  I experienced the divide between women and men, the limitation of been exposed to diverse cultures and barriers of language. For the first time I experienced a challenge with recognizing Hello in a foreign language, I have always come across languages that have similarities to the English language when written or spoken, with Turkish there is a completely different dialect.

The conference raised some interesting view points on what is meant by the term “Disadvantage” to each country involved and how each classified their lower income – no income individuals.  It was interesting to learn the difference in the levels of government involvement offered by each country to their disadvantaged communities, the example given by Romaina regarding the level of financial support received by an unemployed individual in Romaina which was said to be the equivalent to £10 per month, completely amazed me, this altered my view of what we deem to be disadvantaged in the UK given our generous benefit system.

Highlights (and low lights if you wish)?

My highlights would be the Turkish bath, the 30 minutes language challenge we had to enter, with the price increase at two point during the conversation, the fame of having photo’s taken with no consent and the total invasion of personal space experienced from the men who evidently had little to no respect for women, how they imposed themselves on you with no reluctance.

Are you willing to be in the Kaleidoscope Mentoring Network of Community Contacts?  This could be as a Community Mentor/Befriender or Network Contact who I would put Mentees or Mentors in touch with if there was something you could do to assist a particular issue or goal?  Being a Community Mentor is more of a commitment obviously  

and may not suit but a Network Contact would be just as useful but more one-offish…

Yes

Your Recommendations if any AND

What are you willing to do to take the project forward – E.g. promote awareness of next trip opportunity, create a presentation, help with UK propaganda or even collaborate on a future venture? 

A Fresh Start would be interested in partnership working in the future on projects that jointly meet our objectives.   A Fresh Start is now also pursuing partnership  applications for EU projects, we have been included in on the submission of one for the Erasmus 2015 round, we will throughout the year gain more knowledge on how to develop EU projects within our prefered category and submit our own application in 2016, with the objective of opening the opportunity of cultural experience to young people and adults who is unlikely to have had the experience of travel in their past or near future.

by Carlene Clarke (Kaleidoscope, UK)

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Learner Report no 1 – Turkey meeting

What did you learn/become more aware of?

I was able to see EU funding in action and learn about the different project partners, the issues that they face in their respective countries and how they currently/intend to use mentoring.

I was also able to see the complexity of EU funding and the challenges faced by working with such a diverse range of partners

Highlights (and low lights if you wish)?

It was great to see such a diverse range of partners collaborating on a project on such a large scale

I have made several contacts that would be willing to partner on another EU project

The main challenge for me was seeing the impact of the project in terms of outcomes, as the visit was in the mid-point of the project.  I do look forward to seeing the outcomes as lots of exciting work was happening and is continuing to happen in the respective countries and look forward to the culmination of all the hard work at the end of the project.

The trip has demystified EU funding for me

Are you willing to be in the Kaleidoscope Mentoring Network of Community Contacts?  I’ve just made that up.  Yes/?

This could be as a Community Mentor/Befriender or Network Contact who I would put Mentees or Mentors in touch with if there was something you could do to assist a particular issue or goal?  Being a Community Mentor is more of a commitment obviously

and may not suit but a Network Contact would be just as useful but more one-offish…

We’d be happy for you to refer any young men to our reality check mentoring service and consider the use the guidelines that are prepared as a result of this project

On a personal note I’d be happy to think about becoming a community mentor or befriender – please send more info

Your Recommendations if any AND

What are you willing to do to take the project forward –

promote awareness of next trip opportunity, – Natalia, Gemma and Jermaine are all interested  and will speak to you on Monday about this

help with UK propaganda – if you have any leaflets or such like we are happy to display at our youth hub collaborate on a future venture

Will you be holding an end of project event in Hatfield to showcase the work over the past 2 years – happy to help on that?

by UK Aysha Julie (Kaleidoscope Enterprise)

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Civic organization OZ ZIPS in Romania

The Spišská Nová Ves civic organization OZ ZIPS took part on the second international meeting , as a part of the European granted project European Community Mentoring Partnership. This meeting was organized in a Romanian town Alexandria – home of the project partner Teleorman Regional School Department. On behalf of OZ ZIPS this meeting was attended by Mgr. art. Tomáš Cetera, Ing. Martin Kočiš a Bc.
Filip Kudláček. Besides them OZ ZIPS invited to the project , in position of a mentor, the child psychologist Mgr. Martin Boroš, at present working in the Center of a special – pedagogical support by a Special Basic School in Spišská Nová Ves. His aim is social integration as well as optimal personal development of disadvantaged children especially with different health issues by using a complex of psychological, diagnostic, rehabilitation, preventive, methods and other services. His expert comments, consultations and constructive polemics about integration and work with people with special needs where a great help to understand the issue.
From the rich and varied, professionally organized program would be appropriate to highlight the visit Roma school in the village Buzica . Since the topic is high on the agenda in the context of our region, it was interesting to see how the local Roma have undertaken themselves to solve the problems of their ethnicity and their own means. For the purpose of more intensive approach to the Roma minority as such, with its subjective specifics, the local School decided to recruit teachers from among the Roma themselves. These have functionally applied their teaching skills to work with Roma children , with accent on their cultural heritage and awareness uniqueness of their own identity. In accordance with this spirit was performed a cultural program by students lead by these teachers. The upcoming third meeting is planned on September of this year and will take place in Turkey. In February 2015, the penultimate meeting of the mentioned project will be in our city Spišská Nová Ves. OZ ZIPS will welcome representatives from participating partner organizations from the Great Britain, Romania , Northern Ireland and Turkey.

OZ ZIPS (Slovakia)

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Spiss Civic Association Oz Zipps – Between the Dates: 7th May 2014 and 11th May 2014

We attended the second international meeting of the COME 4 INCLUSION Project. On this occasion, the meeting took place in Alexandria, Romania, between 7th May and 11th May 2014. We, the European Community Mentoring Partnership, are very happy to be a part of this project.

At the headquarters, was project Partner: Teleorman Regional School Department; Filip Kudláček. In addition, the Mark Zipps Project was invited, in capacity as Child Psychologist Manager.

Martin Boros, from M. Boros Professionals also attended the meeting in Romania, in his position as a mentor, working at the Centre of special educational counselling, in the United

School Ves, which is devoted to comprehensive special-operations and provides psycho- logical, diagnostic, counselling: rehabilitation, preventive, methodical, and other professional activities for children with disabilities.

These disabilities include children with difficulties in achieving their optimal personality growth, and social integration. Their professional and constructive consultations, have greatly contributed positively to enable a better approximation of issues within our city, and our country with other project partners.

The visit to Roma School in the village of Buzica, was emphasised, as the context of our region is high on the agenda. It was interesting to see the local people of Roma, as they undertook to solve the problems of their ethnicity and their own means.

A more intensive approach to the minority in Roma, as such, with its subjective specifics, the local school decided to recruit teachers from among themselves. Their teaching skills, over a long period of time, have been functionally applied, just to work with the children of Roma, to accentuate their cultural heritage, and awareness of their own unique identity.

It is in this spirit, that the students carry a cultural program, currently under the regulation of the teachers who are prepared for visitors. Forthcoming visits will take place in Turkey during October 2014.

The penultimate meeting of this project will be held in February 2015, which will take place in our city. Mark Zipps will be welcoming various representatives who were involved.

Written by Oz Zipps representative

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Workshop: What are the key attributes of an effective Community Mentor?

EU Grundtvig Programme:

Project Meeting – Alexandria, Teleorman, Romania – 7 – 11 May 2014

Workshop: What are the key attributes of an effective Community Mentor? Partner responses:

Teleorman Schools Inspectorate, Romania

Communication

Be tolerant

Listener

Cross – cultural awareness

Good negotiator

Persuasive Skills

Positive Thinking

Sivas Education Department, Turkey

Non- prejudiced

Empathetic

Positive

Problem-Solver

Experienced enough to anticipate

Necessary qualifications to be creative

ACDC, Romania

Engaging

Motivate

Challenging

Positive through empathy

Stimulating

Oz Zips, Slovakia

No preconception against others

Be prepared for refusal

No stereotypical thinking/ attitude

Good negotiator

Sensitive to people’s needs

Be able to anticipate

Kilcooley Women’s Centre, NI, UK

Patience

Trust

Good Listener

Be available

Mutual respect

Commitment

Approachable

Kaleidoscope Enterprise Ltd, UK

Knowledgeable

Motivate when depressed

Non-judgemental

Maintain trust

Positive attitude

Advanced listening ability

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Report on Trip to Romania (7 – 11 May 2014)

When I was asked to be one of the UK representatives to visit Romania on a social inclusion project ( Community mentoring ) with Kaleidoscope I was trilled. Coming from an  Irish Traveler background I’ve always wanted to visit Romania to compare the similarities and differences of the Roma Community living there and the Gypsy/ Roma /Traveler Communities  living  in  the UK . On day Three of our trip we went to visit Buzescu a small village near Alexandria in Teleorman County The headmaster of the local school points out of 250 pupils in his school 120 are of Roma origin  the Roma children gave us a traditional welcome with bread and salt and danced to their traditional music , it seemed their traditions and culture were well respected in the village.
A  Roma elderly woman tended the local church while a Roma man goes about his business on a horse and cart and in a nearby field Roma woman dig and sow. Across the road a elderly lady opens the doors of her mansion and allows us to roam around inside .
I could see signs of wealth in this village  but what I didn’t see was any sign of any settled people (people who are not of Roma origin ) which I found quite strange. The Roma community representative  tell us some families settled in this village in the 1940s and started working for a Nobel man , they liked it there so some more moved in and the community started to grow they tell us there are 50% Roma and 50% settled in this village  suggesting  inclusion and integration  .
Unfortunately this is not so in the UK  an example would be an Essex school near Dale farm before the large scale eviction  parents of the settled children started to pull their kids out of school when the number of Gypsy/ traveler children started to increase , this was also the case in Rathkale a small village in co limerick Ireland  when the travelers numbers increased the settled children were pulled out . So I wondered why is this working in Romania and not in the UK or Ireland  is it because the Roma there have been settled for so long and are classed as being part of Romani society , or is it because they don’t have the amount of negative press and stereotyping as the GRT communities in the UK/Ireland . It didn’t seem to me they had lost their identity as they were proudly telling us of their own dialect being taught in the school.
In my opinion the Romanians could teach us a thing or two about social inclusion although this is one example of good practice I did see Roma begging  and aggressively selling in a market in Bucharest .

Before visiting Romania I had this preconceived idea of a third world country I was pleasantly surprised to see a bustling and thriving capital city  .The Romanian  hosts  had this trip well planned and organized. Everything was on hand from transport to translators to amounts of food that you couldn’t eat in a month washed down by their local alcohol in beautiful venues , I was overwhelmed by the hospitality shown by them . Our days were filled  with meetings ,  workshops or events to attend , an  annual town festival in Rosiorii to a town hall visit to greet The Lord Mayor  in Alexandria , a visit to a school for disadvantaged children and onto a hostel for victims of domestic violence and the homeless, now this was where community mentoring could be implemented  although the residents were being supported  by nurses and there were doctors on call  all there meals were being cooked by a chef so there wasn’t much for them to do all day.   I believe they would progress quite well by life skills training  and empowerment from a mentor  which would help them to lead more independent lives. I am looking forward to seeing the outcomes of this worthwhile project.

Here’s a little bit about my visit to Giurgiu City . We were blessed to spend the evening in the company of   Bogdan Bobolea  who has worked with  an  Irish based charity Comber Foundation for twenty years rehousing adults of the old infamous  institutions
We went to meet the residents and survivors of Romanies orphanages . It was a truly humbling experience.

Comber foundation began working in Romania in 1991, after its founders had seen the coverage of conditions in orphanages on television.
Nicolae Ceausescu was a Communist dictator who was General Secretary of the Romanian Communist Party from 1965 to 1989, and President of Romania from 1967 to 1989. He banned contraception during his regime and encouraged women to have 5 or more children, in a bid to increase Romania’s population. His legacy included hundreds of overcrowded orphanages across Romania where the children, many of whom had disabilities, lived an appalling existence.

Comber believe large scale institutions for people with disabilities are unacceptable and violate their human rights. They provide community based homes for those still living in institutional care.

38 individuals to date have moved from long-term institutional care to these group homes to begin new lives in a community based setting. All the homes opened to date are staffed by the Social Services Department of Giurgiu, so the ongoing running costs are sustained locally. Giurgiu County Council are committed to closing their remaining adult institutions over the coming years, and working with Comber and other partners to provide alternative community based care.

Everyone has ambitions and dreams for their lives. Many of the residents in the Comber homes have not had the opportunity to pursue their goals or share their stories in the past.
Comber are working to help build a better future, where their dreams will be realized.
You can read their stories at  http://www.comber.ie/dreams/

by UK Learner Josie O’Driscoll (Kaleidoscope Enterprise)

 

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