Follow our International Study Visits with our new ISV page
Friday, December 7, 2012 - 18:40
Get the all the coverage from across Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and the rest of the web.
The new ISV page has launched. Follow all the updates here
Read an ISV Participant’s blog live from Bangladesh
Tuesday, November 27, 2012 - 14:42
Keshav, an Active Citizen, is blogging live from the International Study Visit that is currently taking place in Bangladesh.
Read his blog to find out about travelling to Dhaka, meeting street children and visiting parliament.
You can also get updates from the event on the Active Citizens Twitter page.
Active Citizens gather from around the world for International Study Visits
Thursday, November 15, 2012 - 12:03
Between November and February, four Active Citizens international events will be taking place, involving participants from 14 different countries. Bangladesh, Serbia and the UK will host the events that focus on the power of global connections and establishing links with other people engaged in social development around the world.
During the International Study Visit (ISV), one country hosts a seven-day event involving Active Citizens from different countries that have been selected by their local community organisations.
We work with our partners to identify representatives to attend the ISV. These Active Citizens build skills, meet with civic and civil society and share and learn around themes such as youth, conflict and the environment. On their return they share learning among their peers and support local action in their community.
This is the second time that the British Council has run International Study Visits, after a successful pilot earlier this year in the UK, Kenya, Egypt and Pakistan. The programme typically includes visits to local social action projects, workshops and group activities, networking, guest speakers and action planning.
The first ISV will run from 24 November to 1 December in Bangladesh, with the theme of Youth Participation and Leadership. The second ISV will take place 8 to 15 December in the UK with the theme of Conflict Prevention and Community Cohesion.
There will be another ISV in the UK on 19 to 26 January that will focus upon general issues relating to Active Citizens. The final International Study Visit of this cycle will be held in Serbia from 4 to 10 February 2013 with the theme of Youth Development.
The ISV participants will also spend time identifying joint projects and other ways in which the partnerships can be continued beyond the initial week.
We will be encouraging participants to share their experiences and learning with all Active Citizens online so please look out for updates and insights on Twitter, Facebook and our website during each event.
To read an account from the first International Study Visits, please see Paroj Banerjee’s blog about her ISV experience in the UK as an Active Citizen from India.
Connect with Active Citizens worldwide using our Twitter guidelines
Friday, July 6, 2012 - 15:22
There is a whole network of voluntary organisations and Active Citizens communicating with one another on Twitter, and our guide to the can help you connect with them.
Twitter is a great means of promoting and raising awareness of your social action projects. You can also use it to get tips from other Active Citizens and receive updates from relevant organisations.
The guide, which you can download from the bottom of this page, covers everything you need to get started on Twitter.
You can visit Active Citizens on Twitter through the page www.twitter.com/ActiveCitizens
Are you trying to gain media attention for your social action project?
Monday, April 23, 2012 - 13:35
Read our publicity guide for Active Citizens and find tips and advice on telling your story to the media.
Check out the new-look Active Citizens Facebook page!
Wednesday, April 4, 2012 - 10:46
Active Citizens has adopted the new Facebook design, and now has a timeline of events from the history of Active Citizens.
You can browse the new page here: http://www.facebook.com/activecitizens
Read about the Kenya International Study Visit
Thursday, March 8, 2012 - 17:11
The British High Commission Nairobi have written an article on the International Study Visit.
You can read the article here: http://ukinkenya.fco.gov.uk/en/news/?view=News&id=739130082
UK Study Visit Shows Global Approach to Community Action
Tuesday, February 14, 2012 - 14:36
Community activist, Kateryna Kliuzko, works hard to make life better for those around her. Through her project ‘Hearts in palms’, she helps children and orphans in her native Ukraine who suffer from cerebral palsy or oncological diseases.
Kateryna is part of a network of 80,000 Active Citizens which spans the world. This British Council programme connects organisations and people trying to make a difference in their community. It provides them with the tools and assistance they need to develop cross-cultural skills and run social action projects in their local area or internationally. In January 22, Active Citizens from Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Jordan, Kenya, Kosovo, Pakistan, Serbia and Ukraine visited the UK to see what some of our partner organisations do in communities here. Kateryna was one of them. Together they visited a number of social action projects and learn about the different ways these organisations get their communities involved. They saw how Safer Wales
combats hate crimes and domestic abuse in Cardiff, how Newcastle’s Community Relations Commission
supports its multicultural community, and visited the Community Empowerment Network
in St Helens. Kate Dempster, Active Citizens Manager at the British Council, says: ‘This isn’t just about working together for a few days. The knowledge and skills they acquire will have a lasting impact on their communities as they return home and begin tackling social issues.’ The British Council worked with several partners throughout this week. The charity Shoreditch Trust, for example, hosted the main event and shared their experience with participants of how they tackle inequality and exclusion across deprived neighbourhoods in London. Although all the social action projects are delivered locally by partner organisations, the programme is funded and developed by the British Council. But what we really contribute is the ability to connect people globally. As Kate says, ‘We think global connections can be immensely powerful. Understanding the way societies work in other parts of the world is so important. By talking to one another about the issues we face and sharing some of the challenges of social development, we have the potential to achieve more as Active Citizens.’
Active Citizens visit UK to build their global networks
Friday, January 20, 2012 - 15:23
Between Janurary and March 2012, Active Citizens from 10 countries will be taking part in events across the UK, Egypt, Kenya and Pakistan. They will join workshops and debates and visit other communities to see how they are tackling their social issues.
St Helens Scoping Visit to Egypt and Jordan - Read the Report
Friday, January 20, 2012 - 12:28
St Helens Community Empowerment Network recently visited Egypt and Jordan while social and political changes were taking place.
Egypt in particular was changing due to the effects of the "Arab Spring". "It was really inspirational to see groups of young people following the same activities as part of the Active Citizens training workshops and the connection between the local and global aspects of the programme could not have been illustrated better. "During our visit we witnessed a mix of people involved in the programme from different ages and religious backgrounds and it was enlightening to talk to some of the staff in how they had utilised Active Citizens not only for the development of community leadership but how religious tensions had been helped by the development and delivery of the programme by bringing different groups together to talk about common problems and community issues." To read the full report, please see the PDF file below.
Youth in Action – New Funding Available!
Tuesday, November 8, 2011 - 12:05
The European Commission has made additional funds available for partnerships with Eastern European, Middle East and North African countries.
The new funds will be available through existing mechanisms, such as Youth in Action. Existing EU Youth in Action National Agencies, including in the UK will be able to fund additional co-operation between their countries and the above neighbouring regions. Funding is available through: Action 2 – the European Voluntary Service - the hosting of young volunteers from one participating country in another (bilateral). Action 3.1 – youth exchange between participating countries, also training and networking for youth workers. UK organisations must have a partnership with a minimum of one organisation from a partner country (although it could be a wider partnership with other member states and more than one country in Middle East and North Africa region). See http://www.britishcouncil.org/programme_guide_2011_-_en.pdf for more eligibility info. More information about the funding is available from http://www.britishcouncil.org/youthinaction. The funding will be available from 1 February 2012.
Active Citizens Attend Special Training Event in Mumbai
Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - 15:38
A five-day Active Citizens Facilitators Training held at Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in Mumbai, India from 23 July to 29 July 2011.
The group comprised of people from a wide range of backgrounds, including actors, directors, literacy workers, academics and forum theatre practitioners. Everyone in the group had a unique skill set. The facilitators brought the group together by relating the training to the real life problems that the group faces in the community.
The exercises energised the group, and the team activities gave them a sense of purpose. By the end of the training the group had plenty of ideas for what they want to do with the training. The relationships formed during the five days in Mumbai would help the Active Citizens achieve their development goals.
Prashant Singh of Ulfah Arts, Birmingham, who participated in the workshop, said:
“The five days I spent at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences helped me to not only formulate a better way of working in the third sector but it also gave my belief in the importance of social work a new lease of life.
“I'm now a thoroughly converted Active citizen and I’m looking forward to training a further 30 in Birmingham, UK. It was a really good experience, one people might call 'life affirming’ and I look forward to developing social empowerment projects in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka with the help of my new-found NGO family.”
New Active Citizens Global Toolkit Now Available
Friday, September 16, 2011 - 14:57
The new Active Citizens Global Toolkit is now available for download.
To download it as a PDF go to the resources section
of the website.
Active Citizens Community Profiles Launch
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 - 16:48
Information about the communities involved in Active Citizens and social action projects is now available on a new section of the website.
You can read about the communities here
. Today's featured community is Bhaktapur, Nepal
Community Cohesion Through Sport
Wednesday, August 17, 2011 - 14:46
Read how Active Citizens from Sudan are linking social justice and community awareness through sport.
Read Vitali Tkachov's blog: Respect, Understanding and Communication
Wednesday, August 10, 2011 - 15:12
Vitali Tkachov’s participation in the Active Citizens programme encouraged him to start a theatre group for people with stutters.
Read more on his blog: http://activecitizens.britishcouncil.org/content/active-citizens-respect-understanding-and-communication
Opportunity for funding, available to organisations in the UK
Tuesday, August 2, 2011 - 11:05
NatWest bank has launched CommunityForce
NatWest bank has launched CommunityForce – a £3m initiative to help local charities, organisations and groups in the UK raise publicity, attract volunteers and receive funding. The bank has set up 158 individual CommunityForce areas that will each be offering three local projects the chance to win an award of £6,000. Applications are open until 4 September and an online public vote will then decide on the award winners. Find out more: http://www.socialenterpriselive.com/section/news/csr/20110729/natwest-launches-%C2%A33m-initiative-support-projects-social-return
St Helens: “Each of us has returned to the UK with new ideas and inspiration”
Tuesday, August 2, 2011 - 11:02
Read a blog about the St Helens exchange visit to Ukraine
Last month five participants from St Helens visited Ukraine on an Active Citizens exchange visit. Read about how the St Helens participants learnt about the community work being carried out by their partners in Ukraine - especially they development of eco tourism, environmental projects, work with young people and journalism projects. The visit included community project visits to Kyiv, Lviv, Zhymerinka, Zhytomyr, Hrytsiv, Sheperativ, and Zhydachiv in Central and Western Ukraine. The participants represented the GirlGuiding UK Princes Trust, University of the Third Age and the St Helens Community Empowerment Network. Read the blog at: http://sthelenscommunityempowermentnetwork.wordpress.com/2011/07/14/3-11th-july-active-citizens-exchange-visit-to-ukraine/
Belfast Active Citizens Visit Sudan - Listen to the Podcast Now!
Monday, August 1, 2011 - 13:14
In March 2011 a group of workers from a range of Belfast-based community organisations - including Beyond Skin's Maurice Macartney - took part in a British Council Active Citizens visit to Sudan.
Listen to Maurice’s podcast feature about the trip in March.
The Sudan participants are in Belfast this week, we look forward to hearing all about it! This week’s visit comes only weeks after the world’s newest country, South Sudan, was established.
Muslim and Christian dialogue event taking place in Pakistan today
Wednesday, July 27, 2011 - 10:11
The second Muslim and Christian dialogue session with young people is being held today by Faith Matters in Islamabad, Pakistan, 27 July 2011.
Find out more at http://faith-matters.pk/
Youth-led conferences debate media and social action
Monday, July 25, 2011 - 13:24
The Active Citizens programme in Enfield, North London, is delivered in partnership with Faith Matters, a not for profit organisation that works to reduce extremism and inter-faith tension in the UK.
Last month, Faith Matters organised a series of youth-led conferences in three UK cities, (London, Birmingham and Derby), on the theme of including young people and developing local social action.
The conferences were organised and led by the Faith Matters Youth Forum, with participants from the Active Citizens programme taking part, and each conference gave young people the chance to make their voices heard.
Participants were provided with the opportunity to meet with civil servants, councillors and media professionals as well as inspirational young leaders which included Melody Hossaini (from the Apprentice), Naom Kostucki (from SeedEducation) and Ronnie Crossland (from Channel 4's - Jamie's Dream School).
Find out more at http://faith-matters.org/
Sudan and Belfast Active Citizens meet next week
Friday, July 22, 2011 - 16:56
A group of five Active Citizens participants from Sudan are visiting Northern Ireland next week to share their experiences of working to build peace in post-conflict environments. This visit comes only weeks after the world’s newest country, South Sudan, was established.
The group from Sudan, who represent peace groups, women’s groups and rural development networks, and work with Practical Action Sudan
will spend a week with the South Belfast Roundtable on Racism
, to learn about their local community work and plan joint projects that they will work on as part of the British Council’s Active Citizens programme. Watch this space for more updates about the visit.
Making connections and sharing advice in Bucharest
Friday, July 22, 2011 - 16:48
Hanna Eklund is a participant on the Active Citizens programme in Sweden, find out about her exchange visit to Hungary in her blog.
Welsh Active Citizen wins Citizen’s Voice Award 2011
Thursday, June 23, 2011 - 12:42
Last Friday night Constance Nzeneu, a participant of the Active Citizen’s programme, was declared the winner of the Citizen’s Voice Award 2011 at a ceremony in Cardiff City Hall.
Constance is a participant of Women Making A Difference in Wales, which is a social action project run as part of the Active Citizen’s programme. The the Citizen’s Voice Award 2011
, run by the Institute of Welsh Affairs
and the Western Mail, raise the profile of the contribution that Welsh men and women are making to our society, encouraging active citizenship and creating role models for others. Having faced numerous challenges when she arrived in the UK from Cameroon in 2005, Constance Nzeneu was determined to provide support to vulnerable women in similar situations. A single mother-of-two, Ms Nzeneu founded the Women Seeking Sanctuary Advocacy Group Wales in Cardiff two years ago to support women fleeing human rights abuses, persecutions, isolation, destitution, threats of deportation and other dangers. Ever since, she has worked almost single-handedly to lobby decision-makers, secure funding and arrange counselling and support for the women who come to her – all balanced with her family life. The mother of two said "Winning the Award is not so much recognition for me as recognition for the voices of people seeking sanctuary who have been unheard for so long and need a more positive image in the media". Find out more about the Women Making a Difference
social action project and their recent visit to their partner community in Egypt. Sarah Page’s blog
also gives an insight into what they learned.
Sarah Page’s Blog: The Arab Spring
Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - 16:55
Sarah Page, active citizen from Wales, visited Egypt last month to experience a country reborn. In her blog she gives a vivid account of her life changing experience of a country changing.
Read Sarah’s blog
to find out about what the Ambassadors for Change group from Wales learned from their partner organisation, the Association for the Development and Enhancement of Women (ADEW) in Cairo.
Cajsa’s blog: Sweden, Romania and the UK share learning
Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - 16:24
Cajsa Vingros Carlson, Active Citizen from Sweden, visits Oxford along with participants from Romania, to share knowledge about social action and community empowerment.
Read about her experiences in Cajsa’s blog
. Watch out for instalments throughout the week! An extract from her blog: My name is Cajsa Vingros Carlson, I'm 21 years old and born and raised in Gothenburg, Sweden's second largest city. When I was 15 years old I was involved in my School's "equality-group". We worked for everyone’s equality, debating issues around feminism and racism and such. So, to help prevent racism and break down the existing segregation issues in our city, we decided to create a festival in our community to make other communities feel welcome as our part of town. Now the Picnic Festival is running on Sweden's national day, 6 June, every year with a great number of visitors, over 6000. I am part of a social action group in Sweden called the ubuntutoolbox and we are partnered with the Policy Centre for Roma and Minorities in Romania, and Reachability Oxford, in the UK, through the Active Citizens programme. I am currently in the UK with active citizens from Romania, and we’ve come to find out about the social action taking place here, and to share our ideas and experiences of community empowerment, in order to improve our projects in our respective communities. Read Cajsa’s blog
Belfast Active Citizens Visit Bosnia and Herzegovina
Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - 14:21
A group of Active Citizens of Forthspring in Belfast recently travelled to Bosnia and Herzegovina on a cultural exchange visit.
During a busy trip they visited a wide range of social action projects focusing on youth issues, cultural activities, environmental projects, dialogue and reconciliation and community development. All were inspiring in different ways, making a vital contribution to the rebuilding of communities and relationships following the devastating war in Bosnia. The group saw much of the beautiful country with its mountains and rivers, travelling from Sarajevo to Mostar, Grahovo, Sanski Most, Bihac,Kostajnica, and Banja Luka. The challenges of dealing with the past was highlighted during the week with the arrest of Ratko Mladic, the former Bosnian Serb general, on charges of ethnic cleansing and genocide and by the varying reactions to this event, both within Bosnia and Herzegovina and in neighbouring Serbia. The Forthspring Active Citizenship group is looking forward to hosting their Bosnian friends along with Finnish Active Citizens late this month and will be assisted by the South Belfast Roundtable Against Racism and SEEDS in Derry, two other Active Citizenship projects in Northern Ireland.
Ethiopian Active Citizen Learn from Cultural Visit to Exeter
Friday, May 20, 2011 - 10:40
Ten Active Citizens from Ethiopia visited Exeter this week as part of a cultural exchange. The group were hosted by their English counterparts and Exeter CVS, a registered charity that aims to support both groups and individuals involved in the community and voluntary sector.
The eight day programme, designed to inform the development of the Active Citizens’ social action projects, was full of community visits, workshops and activities in and around Exeter. It ended with an event at the Wonford Community Centre that included speeches, Ethiopian and ceilidh dancing, curry and a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony.
The trip followed a visit by the Exeter Active Citizens to Ethiopia in March, and both trips have provided a great insight into how the Active Citizens can implement voluntary projects in the community.
Sarah Prior Partnership Administrator at Exeter CVS said:
“Active Citizens from both countries learnt a great deal and will keep in touch as social action projects develop.”
St Helens Active Citizens Learn from Visit to Georgia
Wednesday, May 18, 2011 - 16:45
A group of Active Citizens from Georgia are currently visiting Georgia in order to find out more about delivering social actions projects.
The visit is being delivered in collaboration with the St Helens Community Empowerment Network
with the aim of implementing projects that will develop the community.
Welsh Active Citizens visit Egypt
Wednesday, May 18, 2011 - 16:22
Active Citizens from Wales are currently visiting Egypt to inform the development of their social action projects.
The exchange is being delivered in collaboration with Women Making a Difference
, a project designed to motivate women to take an active role in all aspects of society. The social action projects will focus upon methods of empowering women.
Brixton Active Citizens Visit Poland
Friday, May 13, 2011 - 16:30
Active Citizens from Brixton are currently in Poland in order to learn more about developing social action projects.
The group will be treated to a range of activities designed to inform the development of their own social action projects after they return home. The projects aim to get involvement from a wider cross section of community in local environment projects, and are delivered in collaboration with Transition Town Brixton.
Active Citizens from North Lanarkshire Learn from Visit to Poland
Friday, May 13, 2011 - 16:20
Active Citizens from North Lanarkshire are in Poland in order to find out more about implementing social action projects.
The group will be in Poland from 12 to 17 May, and will experience a range of activities designed to inform the development of SAPs. The projects are being delivered in collaboration with Voluntary Action North Lanarkshire
with the aim of developing the community.
Bradford Active Citizens Visit Armenia
Friday, May 13, 2011 - 15:57
Active Citizens from Bradford are currently in Armenia as part of a cultural exchange.
The visiting group will experience a range of activities designed to inform the development of their own social action projects. The theme for the social action projects is promoting peaceful co-existence within diverse communities, and the programme is delivered in collaboration with Bradford & District Community Empowerment Network (CNET).
South African Active Citizens to Visit the Houses of Parliament
Thursday, April 21, 2011 - 16:06
On Tuesday 10 May 2011 Active Citizens from South Africa will be hosted at the Houses of Parliament by MP Caroline Lucas. Accompanied by their counterparts from the city, they will take a tour of the Parliament and join in a discussion and gallery debate to engage the MP and others about local and global issues.
The trip is part of a week long exchange to Brighton and Hove in which the South Africans, who are engaged in social action in their local community, have come to see how similar groups and activists in the city work towards achieving their aims. The Active Citizens programme is run by The British Council and Novas Scarman
, a national social justice charity who successfully bid for Brighton and Hove to be one of four UK cities to be linked to organisations in Africa. The South African visitors will be in the city from 6 to 12 May, and plan to experience a wide range of projects, such the Sussex Beacon
and the Under the Bridge
music studio. The visit to the Houses of Parliament is at the express invite of Caroline Lucas, and they have also been invited to be guests at the All Party Parliamentary Group on HIV and Aids Panel
discussion that evening. Simon Mills, Active Citizens Global Programme Manager at the British Council, said: “It is fantastic to see the programme in Brighton and Hove engaging such a diverse group of people from different community groups, and expanding their learning around community development.”
Bosnia and Herzegovina Active Citizens Graduate as Motivators
Thursday, April 21, 2011 - 15:28
A group of young people have graduated as Motivators as part of the Active Citizens programme, in order to promote positive social change. The Motivators will deliver workshops in the community, and develop Social Action Projects designed to address local needs.
The Motivators came from a range of backgrounds. Some were teachers or were politically engaged. Others have worked with people with disabilities or refugees. What they had in common was a realisation of how the Active Citizens programme could help their community. The training programme aimed to develop leadership skills and build upon their existing relationships within the community. The Motivators were empowered by the realisation that they already had the skills and abilities to contribute to the community in a positive way. There was also a greater understanding of teamwork and ability to empathise with other peoples backgrounds. Elma, one of the new Motivators, said: “In the light of positive social change, one of the most important is the change that we make within ourselves. If I had met some of the participants from this programme in a club, I would probably keep away from them and have an opinion that they may not be worthy of my energy, time or any investment. I am glad that I realised the value of differences.” One of the Motivators who had previously graduated recognised the value of the training: “I have observed myself making a change in approach to everyday situations. I emphasise the positive, which gives me more enthusiasm and energy.” The Motivators will work with young people in their towns, implementing Social Action Projects to tackle issues such as disability, creativity, cultural development and human rights. The Motivators have passed on their knowledge by facilitating workshops in their own communities, increasing levels of enthusiasm and engagement. Amela Gacanovic-Tutnjevic, MDGF Project Officer for Local Capacity Development said: “I spent the first and third module with this group and their progress was evident. They formed a cohesive group of professionals who were ready to take the next steps in leading their community projects and forming partnerships with UK organisations. Quality knowledge exchange for community development was the foundation of this programme, and Motivators were thriving.”
Active Citizens in Hungary raise their profile at an interactive press event
Monday, April 11, 2011 - 16:21
Active Citizens in Hungary hosted an interactive press event in order to engage the media. It provided valuable lessons for those looking to promote their social action projects.
The focus of the day was a two page press release about Active Citizens. However, instead of simply sending this out to media outlets, the facilitators invited them to attend a special event. While media events are usually held at the launch or the conclusion of a project, the Active Citizens took the unusual approach of inviting the press midway through their social action project. This enabled the facilitators to comment on the progress of the project, and the lessons learned so far. The media were engaged by the achievements of the projects so far, and by the “show and tell” approach that the facilitators adopted. Taking place in the main Hungarian government building, representatives from the media learned about the Active Citizens programme in an interactive way. The event attracted two television channels, four radio stations, three newspapers and ten online news outlets. The media and dignitaries became participants, taking part in a range of activities. There was a ‘speed dating’ networking session where the participants found out more about each other. A group work exercise and a round table discussion about volunteering took place. There were also speeches from the Government and the British Council. The Active Citizen participants felt that the press event helped them sell their projects to the media. It also emphasised that enlisting the media as project champions can be one way making the most of limited resources. Simon Ingram-Hill, Director at British Council Hungary
said: “The timing was right. We could show a committed team. We were able to announce the upcoming Community Action Programme and though decisions had not been made about which projects to take forward, the media were curious about them.”
Macedonian Students Produce “Open Windows” Play
Thursday, April 7, 2011 - 10:21
Students from a Macedonian high school produced a play in order to raise awareness of discrimination as part of a unique Active Citizens Social Action Project.
Seven students from the Nikola Karev school in Skopje were involved in the production of the play, named Open Windows, inspired by Ema Anaievska, a girl who suffers from impaired vision. The students met Ema during the production, and dedicated the play to her. Both the students and the audience learned something new about discrimination by the play, which promoted better understanding of those with disabilities. It was performed in front of an audience of over 200 people at the high school. The play depicted a mother of a child with special needs having to overcome discrimination in order to get a job. The audience were encouraged to take action when they saw discrimination in their everyday lives. One audience member said: "The play was excellent, I think plays like this should by organised more often.”
Active Citizens from the UK and Pakistan share their work in Oldham
Wednesday, March 23, 2011 - 12:37
Active Citizens from Pakistan visited Oldham this week, and were inspired by a number of projects taking place in the community.
The group were shown round the area by Active Citizens who have been developing their own projects locally. The programme will act to break down cultural barriers, to develop skills, to encourage and enable independent and team working and offer the young people the chance to share their experiential learning. Amjad Shapal, Active Citizen from Pakistan, spoke of the value of the visit: “This bilateral exchange encourages and supports us. We have learned so much and will try to apply what we’ve learned when we return to Pakistan.” This was not the first time that the Active Citizens from Oldham had met their Pakistani counterparts. A trip to the Active Citizens Regional Symposium in Islamabad, as well as a visit to some of the social action projects taking place in Pakistan earlier in the year had created a bond between the two groups, and served to engage and motivate them. Joseph Walker, Active Citizen in Oldham and Project Officer at Groundwork said: “The trip to Islamabad was truly eye-opening. Seeing the social action projects that they were doing first-hand was really helpful, and will help me implement projects in the Oldham area.” The group from Pakistan visited projects led by such organisations as Groundwork and Voluntary Action Oldham. An example is the work being done on Springbank Community Centre in Oldham, which is being renovated by a group of local volunteers. Sami Raja, student and Active Citizen from Pakistan said: “I really appreciate the work of the British Council. It has been great to interact with the guys from the UK, and the bilateral exchange has really improved my skills and leadership qualities.” A Community Event, organised by the University of Oldham and Voluntary Action Rotherham, celebrating their work takes place this evening. Check out the full article here: http://activecitizens.britishcouncil.org/content/active-citizens-oldham-and-pakistan-inspired-international-exchange
Active Citizens lead the Commonwealth Young Professionals Forum
Monday, March 21, 2011 - 11:41
Last week the British Council ran the Commonwealth Local Government Young Professionals Forum in Cardiff, bringing together young people from all over the world.
The entire Commonwealth was represented by 65 young people who have been making positive changes in their communities, inspired by the British Council’s Active Citizens programme. There was a case study workshop about what it means to be an Active Citizen, with presentations by participants from Sudan, Kenya, Bangladesh and Pakistan. They shared experiences of working with young people, and spoke of the value of progress through personal and collective action within the community. Mohamed Yousef, Leader of the Active Citizens project in the AlFath Sudan, spoke of the positive work that has been done in his community. The activities that they have done include teaching children, combating adult illiteracy, promoting food hygiene, organising workshops to encourage the start up of small businesses and repairing houses for vulnerable families. The young people also shared their experiences of Open Cities, a British Council programme that brings together 11 cities across Europe, exploring the relationship between cities and their increasingly diverse populations and how this can contribute to economic success. The event is part of the United Nations Year of Youth, and is being attended by heads of state, government officials, mayors and leading specialists in the field of local economic development from all 54 countries from the Commonwealth. The Forum illustrated the work that the British Council has done in promoting sustainable development in these countries by engaging with and influencing local governments. For more information, please contact Dr Olga Kelly firstname.lastname@example.org
Active Citizens Social Action Project Launches in the Outer Hebrides
Monday, March 21, 2011 - 11:39
Third Sector Hebrides have launched a Social Action Project offering personal development and leadership skills to 30 Active Citizens in Balivanich, Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides.
The project hopes to build links with countries in Eastern Europe, showcasing examples of communities making a difference and sharing positive experiences with people from other cultures. Alasdair Nicholson, Chief Executive of Third Sector Hebrides said, “We are particularly pleased to be able to launch this initiative in Benbecula with a video conference link to Stornoway. This builds on our successful delivery of our Future Jobs programme which had its first participants in Uist. That programme went on to help 57 young adults gain employment in the Hebrides, putting £200,000 into local wage packets. “Like the Future Jobs programme, we want to work with local partners in the Active Citizens initiative as part of our contribution to the European Year of Volunteering as well as Year of the Scottish Islands.”
Azerbaijan Active Citizens take part in Strasbourg forum
Monday, March 21, 2011 - 11:36
The Azerbaijani Active Citizens participated in panel discussions on topics including networking, youth and public diplomacy and citizenship, amongst others.
The event, titled “Azerbaijan 20-Visions 2020” marked the 20th anniversary of the independence of Azerbaijan, bringing together 260 participants from 42 countries in the historic building of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Luminaries such as the Azerbaijani Minister of Youth and Sport Minister of Youth and Sport as well as senior members of the country’s government and the Council of Europe attended the Forum in which experiences of the Active Citizens programme were shared. One of the Active Citizens participants Natavan Elchiyeva said: “This has been a great chance for me to share my experience about Active Citizens programme implemented by British Council Azerbaijan with participants of ASAIF, to build a huge network with students and alumni from Azerbaijan who reside in Europe and other countries and with officials from ministries and National Parliament. “As a participant of Networking Panel, I had a great opportunity to learn about representation and networking ways and its benefit and significance.”
Welsh Assembly Recognises International Women’s Day
Monday, March 21, 2011 - 11:33
International Women’s Day marked its 100th anniversary on 8 March 2011 with a special event entitled “Women’s Achievements in Wales and the World”. Active Citizens from Jordan and Egypt were on hand to give the event a truly international flavour.
The British Council, Welsh Centre for International Affairs and UNIFEM Wales hosted a workshop at the Temple of Peace in Cardiff, recognising women from Wales and around the World who have made a positive contribution internationally in their respective fields. The event, hosted by Rosemary Butler AM, is the result of the British Council’s successful partnership with the National Assembly of Wales. ’Women Making a Difference’, the British Council’s partner organisation in the delivery of Active Citizens programme, ran a world’s café, to share stories of women from all around the world who have made history over the last 100 years. In addition to celebrating International Women’s Day, Cardiff hosted two Commonwealth events. The Commonwealth Local Government Young Professional Forum was held on 13-15 of March and the Commonwealth Government Forum took place on 15-18. The events explored how the Active Citizens programme supports and nurtures community leaders and ambassadors for social change. Active Citizens from India, Bangladesh, Kenya, Pakistan and Wales shared their enthusiasm, knowledge and experience of sustainable community development.
Take part in a workshop on Interfaith Dialogue
Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - 13:34
SALTO and the UK National Agency are running a free training course on “Interfaith Dialogue in youth work” in the UK in April, applications are now open.
The course will take place in Manchester, UK, from 3 April to 8 April 2011, and is designed for youth workers and youth leaders who work directly with young people and are engaged in interfaith activities or engaged in their own community and willing to develop interfaith activities. The objectives of the course are: 1) to reflect and discuss on the need for interfaith dialogue in youth work and its challenges 2) to exchange best practice on how to engage young people in interfaith dialogue 3) to equip participants with the skills and knowledge that will help them to implement successful interfaith dialogue projects. The deadline for applications is 28 February 2011. To find out more, visit http://www.salto-youth.net/tools/training/find-a-training/1970.html
Standing together for change at the Pakistan Regional Symposium
Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - 13:02
The Active Citizens Regional Symposium in Islamabad brought together young people from around the world together to promote social action and community development.
“Youth in Action for Global Change” was the theme of the symposium, which brought together leading experts and young leaders from different ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds to celebrate the civic engagement of youth globally. Young people from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the UK among others came together and discussed how young people from different backgrounds can promote social action and community development. Sparking interest in the wider media three primetime TV panel shows with high profile speakers and youth activists discussed social issues to audiences of over 40 million people in Pakistan, during the symposium. The young participants also set up an exhibition to showcase Social Action Projects engaging their communities and local influencers. The projects ranged from teaching English to South Asian school children in the UK, and raising awareness of underage marriage of females in Bangladesh, to fixing public street lighting in Pakistan. Workshops and group discussions featured government officials, youth development specialists and civil society partners, designed to explore the link between the choices young people make and opportunities for civic engagement. Speakers included founder and Executive Director of Innovations in Civil Participation Susan Stroud, Politician, Barrister and Human Rights Activist Aitzaz Ahsan, and Andy Thornton of CEO Citizenship Foundation UK. Nadeemul Haque Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission said: "A profound understanding of youth involvement trends is the first step in policy formulation for the young people of a country." Faiza Inayat, a British Council project manager, blogs about the inspiring determination she witnessed there: http://blog.britishcouncil.org/2011/02/active-citizens-pakistan-standing-together-for-change/ To find out more, read what the media is saying about this event: Dawn http://www.dawn.com/2011/01/30/putting-the-youth-in-charge.html Anum Pasha’s blog http://anumpashaa.blogspot.com/2011/01/regional-symposium-youth-in-action-for.html?spref=fb South Asian Media Net http://southasianmedia.net/index_story.cfm?id=672828&category=Frontend&Country=MAIN BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/multimedia/2011/01/110121_global_youth_ms.shtml Express Tribune http://tribune.com.pk/story/105901/social-development-tapping-youth-creativity-for-effective-solutions/ The News http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=26507&Cat=6&dt=1/19/2011
Identity workshops in Azerbaijan
Friday, January 7, 2011 - 12:30
Impressed by the idea of Active Citizens, one of its participants in Azerbaijan, Aysel Asgarova, has organised two workshops under the theme of identity and culture
Developing an understanding of identity and how it is used and understood was the main aim of Aysel’s workshops, which brought together 45 local students.
The workshops sparked lively discussion as students enthusiastically discussed the way identities are formed, changed and influenced. They explored their own identities, including values and aspirations, and how they influence and are influenced. The concept of ‘culture’ was also discussed, including the way cultures are formed, changed and understood, and the connections between identity and culture.
Aysel is a representative of Y-PEER Azerbaijan, an innovative global UNFPA initiative and she is also an active promoter of non-formal, peer-to-peer education in her country. Aysel is linked with numerous community development projects, from theatre-based reproductive health and rights workshops to the National Model UN for local students.
After the successful launch of the Active Citizens programme in Azerbaijan, this young social entrepreneur believes encouraging young people for social activism is important, but what is even more essential is translating the newly gained knowledge, skills, good intentions and commitments of programme participants into actions.
The workshops took place on 2 and 6 December 2010 at Baku Slavic University and Baku State University. Please contact Natig Hajiyev at email@example.com to learn more.
(Image © Aysel Asgarova)
From dirty to divine: cleaning up a communal site
Monday, September 27, 2010 - 12:36
Active Citizens in Nepal rallied local volunteers to transform a filthy pond and public toilet into a heavenly heritage site and community centre
Garud Kundal in Bhaktapur, Nepal, used to be a filthy pond-cum-temple, adjacent to which was a rather unsanitary and poorly-managed public toilet. That was until three local Active Citizens - Merry Khayamali, Babu Kaji Prajapati and Shiva Hari Prajapati – committed themselves and the community to a massive clean-up effort. Over many years the pond had been used by locals for washing clothes, cleaning utensils and bathing themselves, all of which contributed to a high level of water pollution that was potentially harmful to both people and the environment. The public toilets were also considered undesirable to say the least – so bad, in fact, that some described the site as ‘hell’. Local resident and cleaning volunteer Krishna Prasad Khayamali said: “It wasn’t an easy job to change attitude of local people as they had been using the space for drying paddy and clay pots since ancient times.” However, their efforts paid off as locals pulled out the stops to donate both time and cash donations to the transformation project. Even skilled builders and carpenters offered labour and materials at no cost, and local brick kilns gave free bricks to the project. They replaced dirt with plants, banned the use of pond water for washing clothes and bathing, and eventually turned the pond into a beautiful site, complete with fish. The toilet has also been scrubbed up and transformed into a large community room where Active Citizens plan to establish a library and recreation centre for children. Dipendra Prajapati from Bhaktapur Municipality said, “The area has been turned into heaven from hell. It was so smelly and hard to walk around before, but now with the help of Active Citizens and the whole community the place has become a tourist spot - some people have even started coming for sight-seeing!” The Active Citizens programme offered the project a seed fund of NPR 34,800, and the team was able to raise extra from community contributions. So far they have spent NPR 350,000 on the project but to ensure the area remains well-maintained they are currently seeking financial backing from the government and NGOs. View photo gallery from www.britishcouncil.org/nepal-programmes-active-citizens-garud-kundal.htm
Four Words - Facilitators' Training in Nepal
Friday, August 27, 2010 - 13:07
See the new AC Nepal badge designed at the Facilitators' Training in Nepal, July 2010
Four words, Facilitators' Training, Nepal, July 2010
As part of one of the sessions of the week training, the aim of the '4 words activity' was to agree the 4 words that represent Active Citizens in Nepal. Two of the participants drew a design for an AC Nepal badge incorporating the words, a sign that shows the training was a success and had a positive outcome. Read more about the Facilitators Trainings around the world in our Programme Highlights Section in September.
Active Citizens help flood victims in Pakistan
Tuesday, August 24, 2010 - 11:12
Active Citizens have been working in Multan, Pakistan to help the many people who have lost their homes and loved ones in the recent floods in the country. Read more about their experiences.
With Pakistan hit by the most catastrophic floods in its history, conditions are getting worse by the minute. Large areas of Khyber Pakhtunkwa, Southern Punjab and Sindh have been destroyed. Millions have lost their loved ones, homes, crops and are left with nothing but the clothes on their back and their lives. Our group – The Emerging Light Group – has been working in Multan, to help bring relief packages to flood victims since August 7, 2010. We formed this group after attending the British Council’s Active Citizens workshop earlier this year. It made us realise the potential we have, as young people, to contribute to the welfare of our communities and bring about change. We started by going door to door to raise funds; collecting money, medicines, clothes and provisions such as flour, ghee, surf, biscuits, soaps, matchsticks and milk. Through the help of generous supporters, we were able to raise 2.5 lakh rupees, using this to purchase additional medicines and edibles. On 14 August, our Independence Day, we loaded 500 food packets in a truck and set off to Muzaffargarh, Baseera and Sanawan. What we saw there shook us to the core. Acres of crops were destroyed, the flood water was 8 to 10 feet high and people, forced to abandon their homes, were half submerged in water. Children were crying in hunger, the old were sick and the women were desperately trying to save as many of their household items as possible. Once we found a dry spot, we parked and began distributing the food packets. Men, women and children rushed towards us appealing for help, some were begging and shouting, some were weeping, while others were praying to God. We distributed all the food packets we had, but felt awful for turning away those who came late after the stock was finished. Our work, though, is not nearly done; the scenes we saw have been etched in our minds forever. My team and I were disturbed to see so many people struggling to survive this colossal catastrophe and we want to help them as much as we can. So we are planning another trip to Muzzaffargarh with 1000 food packets this weekend. I pray for strength, hope and for these hardships to ease soon. Til then we’ll do whatever we can to be true, active citizens, using all our resources and energy to help those who require it most. Farhan Siddiqui and Zoya Khan are British Council Active Citizens in Pakistan.
UK call for partners - update on selection process
Wednesday, August 11, 2010 - 16:26
Many thanks to all of you who have applied to be part of Active Citizens in the UK - find out the latest
We have been overwhelmed by the number and quality of applications received. We are working through the selection process as fast as we can and will be in touch with everyone by the end of August.
Big Society or Civil Society?
Tuesday, July 13, 2010 - 11:39
Read the latest edition of the British Council’s Governance and Society team's quarterly newsletter which centres on the topical theme 'Big Society or Civil Society?'
The term 'Big Society' prominently features in the UK's new coalition government, and was a key concept in the pre-election Conservative Party manifesto. Prime Minister David Cameron described it as "a guiding philosophy... A society where the leading force for change is social responsibility, not state control." This means that social enterprise is high on the agenda, and the latest newsletter offers perspectives from people in the sector about what this might mean in practice. Governance and Society enables the widening recognition of the UK’s achievements and status as an influential partner in reform and development on a global stage. It achieves this by making the most of sector relationships, specialist knowledge and understanding of the UK's strengths and priorities in order to support the organisation's overall activity. This helps develop connections across cultures, create dialogue that encompasses diverse perspectives and build active networks around common interests. To read more about the theme of ‘Big Society’, as well as gain a fascinating insight into other global updates in the sector, download the newsletter from our Resources section (don't forget to register to use this function).
Call for UK partners
Tuesday, May 25, 2010 - 20:29
Are you interested in becoming a UK local delivery partner for the Active Citizens programme? Read more to find out how
***THE DEADLINE HAS NOW PASSED*** The response for delivery partners for the UK offer has far exceeded expectations and responses will be given by the end of August.
Are you running a voluntary or community sector organisation, or a network working to promote active participation and social justice (such as tackling poverty and inequality) in your community?
Are you interested in sharing and learning from others worldwide?
If so, you may want to apply for a grant of up to £7,500 to be a UK local delivery partner on the British Council Active Citizens programme. Active Citizens connects organisations and people involved in local initiatives that benefit their local communities, and gives them and their communities the opportunity to gain an international perspective on the valuable work they’re already doing, contribute to social research on global themes, develop cross-cultural engagement skills and international professional networks.
The programme will involve participants from the community who represent the range of social and cultural backgrounds existing in the community. We want to establish partnerships with organisations involved in community engagement and civic education initiatives to help develop the Active Citizens programme to make it relevant for your community and supportive of relationships and joint activity with overseas partners.