Speak up! Youth Grassroots Activists Forum against discrimination

10th to 17th August 2016

Bonn, Germany

Bonn, Germany, 10th to 17th August. This international forum provided space for 24 young activists to exchange experiences, conduct presentations and skill-share workshops, out of which new alliances and working groups were formed to counteract right wing extremism in Europe. It’s main goals were to empower young people and facilitate networking between grassroots collectives dealing with intersectional discrimination.

What happened?

The first day was an opportunity to meet the group and introduce some of the main issues and methods to be used during the week. Participants were a bit shy at first, but soon broke the ice with the help of some introductory games and activities. The mixed character of the group allowed those more knowledgeable of the eyfa ways to help set an open and welcoming environment. As the week progress participants had more of an active role on the program through the day’s theme, where they presented the work of their group/s. Everyday they acquired new skills or refine the use of known tools to later be used in their groups back home.

Former eyfa office staff with long standing experience on migrant support visited the project to deliver some of the content and share their expertise. The new network members enjoyed hanging out and hearing the stories of those who not long ago have delivered clothes in Calais, cook for hundreds in Lesvos, demonstrate at Ventimiglia or practice first aid at Eidomeni.

Interesting and challenging, the gender perspective came loaded with some extra complexities in relation to the sexist attacks in Cologne. The group was generous and compassionate making room for basic questions and different opinions. One step at a time, the forum also tackled the sensitive question of the role of the ally, or how to work with affected communities while questioning the hierarchical relationship that often different privileges bring along.

Towards the end of the week the group explored what does it mean for us to be sustainable in our anti-discrimination activism. For some, the topic created doubts on how to best implement the learned lessons back in their groups, as is real hard to get out of the culture of emergency that many community support structures live in. Plenty of food for thought that the participants took back home with them.

Objectives

• Provide youth involved in campaigning against right-wing extremism with an opportunity to share their
experiences and build the competencies required to improve their outreach and interventions.
• Offer space for young grassroots activists to describe the situation in their context, the issues they are
working on & directly ask for support from each other and EYFA in order to become more sustainable and effective.
• Build core competencies among youth grassroots activists to address gender & intersecting inequalities in
their anti-discrimination campaigns and actions.
• Support young activists to identify common challenges & weaknesses and exploit potential alliances and
synergies.
• Channel newly created alliances into collaborative anti-discrimination projects to continue after the forum.
• Facilitate the creation, translation & printing of materials useful for the participant’s campaigns and actions.

Outcomes

Participants based in Germany elaborated a basic protocol to respond to medical needs of asylum seekers. Through their journey for a better life migrants are submitted to inhuman conditions often causing illness and trauma, but only get medical attention (if they are lucky) once they arrive to western European countries. Activists can put migrants in touch with free medical attention networks that can help them heal, and also make a stronger case for their status to be recognised.

The working group on language and translation formed a network of radical translators that would translate the migrants stories that can be both use to rise public awareness and for claiming their cases to the administration (e.g. stop deportations).

The working group on sustainable activism aims at checking-in and supporting the participants on their commitments to put in practice some of the lessons learned for preventing burn out.

Supported by

This project was made possible with the financial support of the European Youth Foundation – Council of Europe.

 

 

 

Also with the support of: