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Action for change : volunteering for social inclusion and employment opportunities of migrant youth.
Start date: Nov 9, 2015, End date: May 8, 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Europe, in order to move forward politically, economically and socially, must engage all citizens. However, our research has showed that youth with an immigrant background are in the segment of the population that is negatively impacted in being able to access the skills they need. Migrant youth face discrimination, language barriers, poverty, social exclusion, lower rates of education and skill levels and higher risks of exploitation. One way in which to address these issues and give migrant youth better opportunities to improve their situation is through volunteer activities. These activities increase skills that can be applied towards employment and increase feelings of being a part of their community (social inclusion). Thus the main aim for this youth exchange was to give young people having migrant background and facing unemployment and social exclusion better opportunities by facilitating them to take decisions in their own life and consider how they can affect the world around them by executing voluntary projects/actions. Specifically we explored volunteering as a tool for preventing marginalisation, poverty, disenfranchisement and increasing educational and trade skills in a non-formal setting. This youth exchange involved 64 representatives from the the UK, Russia, Bulgaria, and Azerbaijan and was held for 12 days in Yekaterinburg, Russia. The main objectives for this Mobility Project were: - to develop knowledge of migrant youth in participation issues to find alternatives to social exclusion and unemployment through a series of mixed nationality workshops and volunteering activities; - to involve young people in learning the skills needed to be effective problem solvers, to take ownership of the programme and thus to develop a sense of follow through and sustainability; - to use volunteerism as a tool to increase migrant youth employability, communication skills, tolerance, critical thinking, peer interaction, cultural awareness, empathy and respect; - to raise awareness about EU citizenship and rights that go with it; - to explore instruments, exchange experiences and develop new ideas for the promotion of youth participation empowerment among groups of migrant youth, youth government structures and NGO's; - to valorise the outcomes of the exchange and facilitate creation of new projects by organising training sessions led by experienced programme multipliers. This project gave migrant young people an opportunity to organize informal peer led activities for their peers and local community, while accepting feedback on the chosen methodology and to be active citizens through volunteering. The project created a group of young motivated peer leaders that developed their skills and competences aiming to promote community involvement, social inclusion, and enhanced employability skills among migrant youth. As a result of their participation in the Project and acquisition of the planned competences, the young people were awarded Youthpass certificates (European recognition tools for non-formal and informal learning in youth work). The following working methods were used during the youth exchange: theoretical inputs on various aspects of communication; simulations, consensus and confrontation exercises; workgroups on intercultural learning; presentations of best practices; role play and simulation exercises; workshops on management of a peer group and on peer communication; use of SALTO toolkits, volunteer activities in the community, and presentation of the Erasmus+ Programme with a special focus on new developments and opportunities for cooperation between the partners on the project’s theme. The main impact and results of this project: identification and acknowledgment of the issues affecting migrant youth, particularly as they relate to social inclusion and employability, concrete solutions to address these problems through volunteer activity, the active promotion of these solutions with continued refinement through feedback and communication, as well as sustainment of these practices via support through youth leaders, communities and partner organisations. The results were disseminated to a wider audience: youth organisations and public bodies interested in the theme of the project; youth and peer leaders involved in the work of these organisations; local authorities and decision-making bodies. The skills learned in this exchange are not only applicable in addressing social inclusion and employability but will be expanded to form a broader base for life learning experiences in general allowing for improvement in knowledge, skills, thought processes, engagement in active citizenship, volunteering, intercultural dialogue, tolerance, and increased communication skills. These long term, synergistic benefits will help to propel forward a more inclusive, employable and involved society throughout Europe and the surrounding countries.
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