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Reclaiming Civic Space – Local Actions

Updated: Feb 25, 2023

Autumn is here and we are starting to pick up the fruits from the multi-stage, long-term project "Reclaiming Civic Space: Promoting Youth Civic Space through Youth Work and Human Rights Education” that started with an international training seminar in Turin in December 2021 and continued with a second phase that took place in June 2022 in Brussels.

Young people with diverse backgrounds who have deepened their understanding of the shrinking civic space phenomenon and have developed their capacity to address it in the first stages of the project, have already started implementing their local actions.

The first activity took place in Germany where one of our participants from Belarus, Prokhar Navitski, involved young people to tackle the problem with the reduced solidarity with Ukrainian and Belarusian people and their inclusion in society. The local action aimed at bringing awareness and creating understanding towards people forced to flee their home country. Young people had the chance to visit an exhibition by a Belarusian artist who escaped the Belarusian regime, and join an art workshop during the KUPALT festival. They created prints to spread a message of solidarity and safe space for people escaping from war and humanitarian crisis.

The next local action was implemented in Brussels by Keren Kraizer, Alessandro Carlucci, Paul Angelo Deans, Nick Arnaud Giriyuja and David Mgeladzé. They wanted to address the dwindling empathy towards migrants, asylum seekers and refugees resulting in exclusion and lack of adequate support. Their local action aimed at improving the welcoming process of asylum seekers and facilitating their integration into the local community. The group of young activists has successfully implemented the first stage of their long-term local action namely to organise four in-depth interviews with young people who went through the asylum process and to hold a workshop with local youth workers to understand the needs of the queer asylum seekers through analysing the in-depth interviews. The next steps involving launching an online platform to better prepare queer asylum seekers for the asylum process have already been taken so watch this space for updates.

The latest local action was implemented in the Polish city of Poznań by Zofia Cebulska, Jagoda Szejnfeld, Nicole Pawlak and Riya Mathur. The problem they tackled was young people’s struggle for identity in the shrinking civic space. The aim of their local action was to check whether young people in Poznań felt comfortable enough to express themselves. They conducted a survey that allowed them to collect testimonies to see if the struggle of young people to find and express their identity in their city was big.

The testimonies were presented during an open exhibition where visitors had the chance to engage in discussions around the main topics of identity, in/ex-clusion, discrimination and civic space. The desired impact was to connect with as many young people as possible and talk to them about their experiences. The feedback from participants was very positive, praising the achievement to address sensitive topics in a way that stimulates reflection and dialogue.

These three local actions were just the beginning but we can already see the small positive changes they were able to bring so we can’t wait to tell you more about the next ones!

The project is organized by Human Rights Education Youth Network with the financial support of the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe.

This post does not necessarily reflect the official position of the Council of Europe.

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