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Everything Erasmus: E | E+

As we make our way through the ongoing headlines, mostly involving pushing the telly from room to room in the office to find the looming BREXIT in bold black writing, we are making our views on Brexit heard in the incoming weeks. We want to showcase the invaluable work of Erasmus+ in Scotland, led by youth organisations in some of Scotland’s most deprived communities.

Erasmus+ is one element of the negotiations that has not had its time to shine due to the economic hardlines of a No deal Brexit and the inability to relate to much of what is being said about the United Kingdom’s relationship with other EU countries (say us and our young people). However, as the country pushes forward we are taking the platform to express our concerns for the lack of time dedicated to discussing an alternative to Erasmus+ which positively changes the lives of young people living in deprivation.

Erasmus+ aims to benefit young people to learn new skills to improve their employability, gain life skills and develop their confidence whilst socially and economically impacting Scotland and its communities. Out with the academic jargon, if young people from poorer areas experience the world and have the aftercare to process that experience, then they become influential in making the change to the communities they live in and their own life’s. We have seen social enterprises begin and young people change their negative perceptions of the world they live in due to Erasmus+, amazing stuff!

We have also worked with Erasmus+ to tackle sectarianism in Glasgow and to support community rehabilitation of youth offenders.

In the last 3 years we have benefited from Erasmus+ to offer over 50 young people from Glasgow and 25 youth workers from across Scotland the chance to exchange ideas and experiences with others across Europe and the rest of the world. Whilst aiming to promote Erasmus+, we want you to know that it is not just for universities and colleges, in fact, youth organisations in Scotland are silent beneficiaries of Erasmus+ and have been for a long time. It has allowed Achieve More Scotland to transform the lives of children and young people living in poverty.

The core of our campaign for highlighting Erasmus+ and ensuring it continues for Scotland’s youth is to tackle the ongoing perception that the world we live in today is open to everyone to experience, because it isn’t. For some of us reading this, we can say we enjoy that uplifting sense of empowerment that comes with visiting a country and immersing in its culture, the feeling like you are a part of a fast paced and globalised world. Well, that sense of agency is not common in the communities Achieve More Scotland works in and because it’s not common, neither are the benefits of having a sense of identity and therefore the long-term benefits of gaining employment, entering education or up skilling oneself with a sense of empowerment by their side. Erasmus+ has supported hundreds of young people in Scotland to know how that feels and make the change they want to see.

Erasmus+ offers young people from deprivation the chance of having a voice in the long-term, positively impacting their adult life. We have seen young people become more accountable to democratic life, to their future employer, they become more confident in their viewpoint, they make better life choices and change their attitudes and behaviours.

In 2016 we sent 15 young people to France to support local communities to rebuild children’s playparks and support sporting events. In 2017 we sent 5 young people to Hungary to explore the topic of migration and exchange migration stories, the same year we sent 4 young people to Portugal to discuss participating in politics and what engaging with democracy means to them, giving them the tools to campaign for young people living in Springburn.

We also supported 3 youth workers to attend trainings in enterprise education, making Erasmus+ applications and using digitalisation in youth work. In 2018 we conducted our first hosting programme and we supported exchanges in Germany, Italy and Spain.

One quote that has stuck with me throughout Achieve More Scotland’s journey in Erasmus+ is the words of 20 year old male whom came back from Portugal in 2017:

“it was amazing, to get away from life for a bit and just take stock you know. But reality hit hard when we came back, we went for a Mcdonalds from the bus and someone was taken to the jail and there were people out of their face on drugs as we ate our dinner, we seen it from the window. The police came but I had a feeling that I was going to be something more than the ‘normal’ I see a good bit, like that in my community. From that day, I told myself I will be, I just came off a plane for the first time. Felt like two different worlds!”

 

Erasmus+ has allowed many to familiarise themselves with the complex world around them and given them a seed of hope. With the right support from a youth organisation he was able to grow and he, like many others who have participated in the programme shift between individualism to collectivism and most importantly make bigger and exciting goals to enter employment, education and change their addictive habits.

We believe at Achieve More Scotland that culture binds society together and Erasmus+ increases social mobility for those living in deprivation, acceptance of inequality, the tolerance for uncertainty and provides young people living in Scotland a chance to be a part of a globalised world that can easily leave them behind. For that reason, we will be showcasing the benefits Erasmus+ has on young people, communities and Scotland this week to highlight the negative impact if there is no alternative to take its place.

We at Achieve More cannot accept an alternative to Erasmus+ funding that does not offer young people from deprived communities the opportunity to become a part of the world beyond a mobile phone and the advancement of technology. For we believe it is only going to lead to more inequality in years to come. With that said, we begin our Everything Erasmus+ campaign next week by having young people tell their stories first, then our local partners and our partners across the water and finally we will end, we hope, with some promising conversations and outcomes!

Achieve More Scotland is asking the Scottish Government to consider the impact to young people and communities if Erasmus+ is no longer easily accessible and to consider finding an alternative to the programme that puts young people and communities experiencing deprivation first.

#inspiringinclusion

Carla Fyfe

Head of Development