Migrant Access Project presented at Eurocities Roma Taskforce in Lisbon

Pria Bhabra, Commissioning Officer (Migrant Access) talks about her recent trip to EUROCITIES with a Migrant Community Networker, Michaela Sarkozyova

Since my first trip to Brussels last June, I have visited Athens, Gothenburg and Milan – all invited by EUROCITIES and independently by Norrköping in Sweden. The most memorable was Milan where Leeds won the Sharing Cities EUROCITIES award for the Migrant Access Project (MAP).

EUROCITIES is a network which represents 130 cities across Europe. It aims to improve quality of life by sharing knowledge and good practice between cities across Europe. Leeds City Council is a member of the network, and works closely with the University of Leeds and Leeds Beckett University on EUROCITIES matters.  More information is available at www.eurocities.eu/eurocities/about_us

 I attended the Social Affairs Forum in Lisbon on 4th April 2017, and was invited to present MAP and share good practice through speed networking sessions as well as an additional two days at the Roma Inclusion Task Force meeting. This trip was exciting because EUROCITIES invited a Migrant Community Networker of the MAP project to participate at this meeting.

Michaela Sarkozyova who is Slovakian Roma commented:

“I didn’t really know what to expect but was asked to prepare a presentation about my journey as an EU migrant in Leeds. I was very surprised but very happy to know that cities in Europe have created this group to improve the life of Roma. I really didn’t know anything like this existed and many cities care about us. I was texting my family and friends back home to tell them what we were discussing and that we are recognised as a community who needs a lot of support to build trust and participate. Everyone was very friendly and welcoming and I think I impressed everyone! I was interviewed too and met lots of new people I will keep in touch with. Thank you to Leeds City Council and EUROCITIES for the best opportunity I have had”.



International opportunity for Leeds College of Art students


Lauren Williams from Leeds College of Art describes her recent experience as part of a group of students who travelled to Leeds’ partner city of Lille this spring to participate in the annual “Fete de l’anim” or animation festival.  Two students were part of an “animation marathon” whilst two others were part of international teams who produced video-mapping animations on the theme of “the circus” which were projected onto Lille’s opera building – watch it here: https://youtu.be/vnXsCQPlnXY


“When I got the email at University that there was the chance to go to France to take part in the Fete de l’anim, I didn’t hesitate to reply expressing my desire to go, despite knowing nothing about the event. I’m so glad that I jumped on the opportunity as the week I spent in Lille is going to be one that I’ll always remember.


Taking part in the Marathon de l’anim’ has been the most stressful two days of my life, but by far the most rewarding. We were tasked with creating a 10 second animation in just two days, and myself and Paul – a graduate of LCA – were teamed up with Theo, a French animation student. Overcoming the language barrier was challenging enough, never mind the stresses of such a tight deadline! However, we were able to work together efficiently and we managed to produce an animation that I am really proud of, especially considering the quick turn around. The final film was screened on the last day of the festival, and it was such an amazing feeling to know how many people got to see it.  

Not only did I get the chance to produce some good work, but I also had the chance to see some good work. I’ve been able to attend Masterclasses during the festival, and experience first hand what’s happening elsewhere in the world of animation; not just from industry professionals, but from international students too, some of which I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. 

I feel incredibly lucky to have gone on this trip. I’ve met and collaborated with some amazing people, had my work shown to my biggest audience yet, and overall I feel I’ve bettered myself as a practitioner. I can’t thank Leeds College of Art and Leeds City Council enough for such an enriching opportunity.



The role of a museums registrar


Jen Kaines from Leeds City Council’s Museums and Galleries service explains the international role of the “Registrar”.

“I was recently invited by Jersey Heritage Trust to talk to their Patrons as part of the Patrons Membership Scheme about what I do as a Registrar and how exhibitions and loans miraculously appear in our venues or across the world.

Jersey Heritage Trust although on the surface very different to Leeds Museums and Galleries actually has many similarities. It is a multi-sited service consisting of a broad range of subject areas and collection types with a broad audience base of tourists and locals.

I was speaking with the Registrar at Jersey, whom I have known for many years and between us we have many decades of experience of getting objects of all sorts of shapes and sizes both to our venues for display and lending them around the world. This presentation was to showcase some of those experiences and to give the Patrons an idea of what is involved in developing exhibitions, how you move and install objects such as massive paintings that will not fit through any door in your museum, what you need to consider when lending a large rocket, natural history or other items that may have their movement controlled under international statute, etc. etc.  We talked about a whole host of items from tiny rings to massive elephants – all encompassed in the day to day workings of a Museum Registrar.”

Inspirational International Partnership from Leeds celebrates its Tenth Anniversary

In 2006, David Geldart, the then Director of Physical Education and Sport at St. Mary’s, Menston, visited South Africa as part of a British Council and Youth Sport Trust initiative to promote sport in the country’s most deprived areas. As a direct result of that visit, St. Marys and Mnyakanya High School in KwaZulu Natal developed a unique partnership using sport to inspire young people in both countries. The two schools named their collaboration the ‘Bambisanani Partnership’ – Bambisanani being the Zulu word meaning ‘working hand in hand’. The partnership has subsequently gained international acclaim for its ‘pioneering and inspirational work’ using the power of sport to promote education, health, global citizenship, enterprise in one of South Africa’s poorest rural regions. Ten years on, the partnership has become a multi Award winning charity chaired by David Geldart and led by Mrs Catherine Chattoe at St. Marys and Mrs PK Zondi in South Africa.

Mnyakanya High School is situated in the rural and remote Nkandla region of Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa. The school, in the heart of traditional Zululand, was opened by Nelson Mandela in 2004 and is located in one of the most deprived areas of South Africa with high rates of HIV/AIDS, unemployment and adult illiteracy. The area has one of highest rates of AIDS orphans in the world. Class sizes are in excess of 60 and the school has very limited resources. Despite all this, Mnyakanya provides an oasis of hope in the area and many students walk two hours, each way, for the opportunity to receive an education.

Sport has driven the Bambisanani Partnership and has been the catalyst for whole school developments at both St. Mary’s and Mnyakanya. Over the course of the past ten years the Bambisanani Partnership has become part of each school’s identity. Teacher and student exchanges, joint learning projects involving almost all areas of the curriculum have enriched teaching and learning at both schools and empowered the partnership. A fundamental factor in this success has been whole school involvement, engagement and support of Governors, Senior Leaders, teachers, parents, students and the wider community including supporters and sponsors.

The visits to and from each country have had a significant impact on those involved. Students from St. Mary’s who visit South Africa prepare for more that eighteen months in advance. In addition to the necessary fund raising and advanced leadership training, students are involved in a learning programme that covers topics such as Apartheid, South African history and politics, Zulu culture and traditions, HIV/AIDS awareness and Zulu language. When in South Africa the students (normally lower Sixth Form) mentor twenty Mnyakanya students through the ‘Bambisanani Leadership’ programme, taught through sports activities. At the end of the programme, the students from both schools have the responsibility of jointly planning and delivering a community Sports Festival and a community Reading Festival for over 150 primary school children from the Nkandla region. Significantly, even the reading Festival uses sport to great effect. Beyond the leadership mentoring, St. Mary’s students also coach a range of specific sports and teach academic subjects at Mnyakanya, and sports and reading at Ntlowane Primary School and Zulufadder Orphanage.


The annual visits to South Africa have also included primary and secondary colleagues in order to encourage this kind of development in other schools. Business sponsors and supporters have also visited the project.

Beyond annual visits, the majority of Faculty areas at St. Mary’s have used the partnership as a stimulus for learning. Exceptional work in Religious Education, English, Languages, Humanities, Technology, Drama, Art and Music has further embedded the collaboration. Joint learning projects in Art and Creative Writing based on the theme of ‘The Power of Sport’ inspired over 650 students from both schools to voluntarily enter age related competitions. The work has since been exhibited in both countries and prints sold internationally.

‘Bambisanani Enterprises’ is a student led business that exists in both schools with the purpose of teaching enterprise skills and raising funding for the partnership. Business sponsors in both countries have given their time to mentor students involved. The partnership has also developed the Bambisanani Award scheme. To gain the awards at Bronze, Silver and Gold level, students have to successfully complete independent learning projects on Leadership, Social Justice, Global Citizenship, Enterprise, Volunteering and Community Engagement.

The charity supports Aids orphans into school and is currently funding four students through University. Simphiwe Ndlovu is now in his second year at University training to be a teacher. Simphiwe said, ‘I knew that I wanted to be a teacher when I completed the Bambisanani Leadership Programme. I was really motivated to succeed in my studies at school to gain entry to University. To become a teacher is my dream. I want to be one of those good teachers that the world needs.’

St. Mary’s and Mnyakanya both now work with other schools to encourage them to also develop international partnerships. This involves working with schools individually and speaking at conferences about the Bambisanani Partnership and the benefits of such work.


In its tenth Anniversary year, the Bambisanani Partnership has ambitious plans to extend its work and influence. In addition to the annual exchanges, supporting students in need and the provision of a wide range of new learning activities in both schools, the charity is working with the University of Leeds and Leeds Trinity University to develop leadership programmes with its own students in South Africa. At Mnyakanya School the charity is currently working on the instillation of Wi Fi and computers to enhance teaching and learning in this remote rural area. It is also the aim to create a football pitch for the school and wider community on land nearby. The partnerships long term relationship with Zulufadder Orphanage will be developed through the building of a new Hostel for the most vulnerable of vulnerable children who need immediate care and accommodation. Additionally the partnership is also working with the South African Commission to the UK to help establish a Sport and Education Forum linking the UK and South Africa with the British Council and Youth Sport Trust to support other schools develop sustainable partnerships.


William Vilakazi, Principal of Mnyakanya School, is in no doubt about the importance of the partnership:-


“The Bambisanani Partnership continues to be an inspiration to our school and community. It is difficult to put into words the impact of the partnership. Some of the impact is physical and very practical; some of the impact is psychological, influencing attitudes, confidence, motivation and aspiration. We all learn from working together and the focus on developing young leaders is changing people’s lives. We are working in an equal partnership where there is mutual respect. There is a saying in Zulu culture: ‘Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu’ – meaning, ‘we are what we are because of others’. We are genuinely working hand in hand and I believe that both school communities are enhanced as a result. What this partnership teaches cannot be learned from books.”


The partnerships founder, David Geldart added:


“This work is not easy, indeed it is fraught with difficulties and frustration; yet the prize is great if you have a team that is determined to succeed. This is not really about charity, it is much more than that; it is about people from different parts of the world working together and learning together. The Bambisanani Partnership will not change the world but it has changed the world for some people; it has changed the lives and perspectives of many. It is testimony to the unique power of sport and of education as to what can be achieved by working hand in hand in a genuine partnership. We have learned so much from our first ten years of working together; not least that we can achieve even more in the next ten years.”


For more information about the Bambisanani Partnership also see www.bambisananipartnership.org

Leeds young people trained up on “social enterprise” in France

In November 2016, 8 young people were chosen to represent Leeds at a training course in Lille, France, titled ‘Lead the Future with Social and Solidarity Economy’. We were lucky enough to be part of the people selected to attend the 9 day course and although it was a busy week, we were able to learn so much from both the training and each another.


5 partner cities of Lille were represented on the course: Erfurt (Germany), Turin (Italy), Wroclaw (Poland), Lille (France) and Leeds (UK). The training was organised by a team from Histoire de Savoirs, a French non-government organisation working in the field of non-formal education and was funded by the European Commission’s ERASMUS+ programme.  The aim of the training was to learn and reflect on Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE), to encourage active youth participation in local community and wider society, and to encourage networks across Europe. This was to be achieved through designing of SSE projects and sharing ideas.


Our first day mostly included travel, and after a few hours of settling in we met with the team from Histoire de Savoirs to collect our welcome packs for the duration of the course. We met other participants and were able to join in the monthly language event taking place at the hostel. For the duration of the course we shared rooms with participants from the other cities, so we could really socialise, network and even try to learn some new languages at all available opportunities! The entire course was delivered in English, so we were incredibly lucky to be surrounded by participants who spoke English as their 2nd language extremely well.


We spent the next day getting to know one another, finding out more about the course and a cultural visit to Lille. From then on we were able to get stuck into work on our projects! This included presentations on SSE and sharing our own thoughts on this based on the cities we were representing and the overall situation in our own countries. This provoked some interesting discussions in the room, as we began to see that we all had different interpretations and understandings of SSE, with different rules and regulations depending on the country we were from. We used these discussions to share some examples of SSE (or how we understood SSE) projects from our own countries and local cities. Despite our differing definitions, we came to realise that there were some key themes in the group’s understanding of SSE. These included but were not limited to non-hierarchical structures, democratic decision making processes, ideas that are good for people and for the planet, ethical purchasing and supporting local businesses. Then, we all received a very warm welcome from Marie-Pierre Bresson, the Deputy Mayor for International Relations, in Lille City Hall and gained further understanding of SSE in Lille.


We used a ‘dragon dreaming’ methodology to develop our projects, working in mixed groups with people who shared similar ‘dreams’. This was a new way of learning for all of us, and it was great so see our dreams start to turn into realistic objectives. Some dreams were certainly more abstract than others to begin with! We worked together throughout the week to create project ideas that we presented at a public event towards the end of the week. The event included an introduction from Christiane Bouchart, the Lille City Councillor on SSE, along with other key representatives in SSE from across the city. We were able to practice our presentation skills and gather feedback about our ideas; there were some great projects that could definitely have the potential to develop across Europe one day.


Whilst in Lille, we each had the opportunity to meet with or visit 2 of 5 SSE projects. There was a range of different projects; ‘ENERCOOP’ working with green electricity, ‘La Passarelle’ a social economy grocery shop, ‘GECO’ converting cooking oil into biofuel, ‘NASDAQ’ local culture and arts events including a summer festival and ‘Les Blongions’ protecting natural sites and providing volunteering opportunities. Between the 8 representatives from Leeds we were able to cover all 5 of the projects. It was important to see different types of SSE projects in action.


Not only did we gain a lot of knowledge surrounding SSE from the training and visits, we also developed our understanding and awareness of other cultures. At the ‘Intercultural Evening’, representatives from each city brought along some examples of local delicacies and traditional food from their countries. Our food that we took along included Yorkshire mixture, marmite, scones and pease pudding, which made for some interesting combinations (we even witnessed someone try marmite on a cherry scone!).


We spent the last day with an introduction to Erasmus and the ‘YouthPass’, being able to document our learning and match this to specific competences. We each gained valuable learning from the training that we will be able to apply to our own personal development, whilst strengthening relationships between ourselves and partner cities. Now, we are in the process of feeding back on what we learnt to our various networks, whilst staying in touch with participants from each of the cities. We have all been sharing a variety of interesting articles, videos and examples of SSE projects through our Facebook group and through emails.


We look forward to hearing about the next event, maybe something will be hosted in Leeds?

Rosie Brookes and Grace Lawrenson

You can find out more about Histoire de Savoirs and read their blog on our training here: http://histoiredesavoirs.com/wordpress/en/lead-the-future-european-training/

Flying the flag for Leeds in Eurocities

Pria Bhabra, Commissioning Officer (Migrant Access) talks about her recent trip to Eurocities and what it does and why it matters now more than ever.



Eurocities is a network which represents 130 cities across Europe. It aims to improve quality of life by sharing knowledge and good practice between cities across Europe. Leeds City Council is a member of the network, and works closely with the University of Leeds and Leeds Beckett University on Eurocities matters.  More information is available at www.eurocities.eu/eurocities/about_us


“I was really excited when I was nominated in a cross Europe competition to work with Eurocities and I was even more excited (and nervous) when selected to go on a two day seminar and two day secondment in the heart of the European Union city of Brussels. The whole trip was funded by the Eurocities programme.

A total of 16 delegates attended the seminar, representing cities from all over Europe including, Nice, Berlin, Cardiff, Tilburg, Malmo, Gothenburg, Ghent, Madrid, Nicosia, Barcelona, Turin, Athens, Warsaw, Palermo, Stockholm, Utrecht, and me, representing Leeds. It was great to meet everyone, there was a running joke that I and the colleague from Cardiff were the most difficult to understand as native English speakers. In my case an added difficulty having a strong Yorkshire accent!

It was clear the challenges and issues discussed were similar and felt across all cities. Some had high unemployment or rising homelessness, others felt the pressure of financial reductions and increasing demands on services.

Migration and integration was a key theme and concern, and cities were keen to know how other cities were dealing with this. I was the only one able to share many examples of our work, primarily of the Migrant Access Project. I was asked to share the profile many times by the Policy Advisor throughout the week as I met different Directorate Generals. This has certainly helped start to build Leeds’ profile with Eurocities.

My interests of work are under the Social Affairs Forum that aims to strengthen the involvement of Local Authorities in developing and implementing national and EU social policies. The Forum’s current priorities are;

1) social cohesion and integration of refugees;

2) inclusive labour markets, and

3) tackling deep-seated poverty and homelessness.

There are eight working groups under this forum (Migration and Integration, Roma Inclusion, Education, Employment, Housing, Homelessness, Smart Social Inclusion and Active and Healthy Ageing).

Leeds is starting to contribute to these, notably on the Urban Ageing work, but there are other areas we should try and get involved with more. Anti-radicalisation was raised by some cities and I was able to share the work around Prevent in Leeds. Eurocities have asked for information that could possibly inform the start of a working group on this important subject.

Whilst this was a working week, I managed to sight see and experience Belgian life with my European colleagues. We visited the beautiful city of Bruges where life is very different to city life. Having a sweet tooth, I was in my element enjoying chocolate, crepes and waffles! The whole week was packed with learning, sharing, networking, exploring and laughing.

The last day in Brussels was a little sombre. I awoke to read texts from friends about Brexit and the mood back in the United Kingdom. I headed to the office feeling disappointed and this was the topic of discussion everywhere. I am not sure where we stand with regards to working together and funding but officers at Eurocities stated they are keen to work with Leeds and look forward to future partnership work.

And this leads onto some good news that the Migrant Access Project has been shortlisted for the Eurocities award in the category of ‘participation’ This is an opportunity to present the Migrant Access Project and represent Leeds in Milan later this year.”

The Social Europe training and Eurocities secondment was funded by the European Commission’s DG Employment through the EASI grant.

For further information about the Migrant Access Project, please contact me at pria.bhabra@leeds.gov.uk

In the current climate, post referendum, Leeds’ outward facing work is more important than ever. Anyone interested in adding an international dimension to their work, learning from best practice from other cities or showcasing their own work to other cities please contact Karen.Murgatroyd@leeds.gov.uk 

Leeds steelpans experts in Lille

Last week we told you about the recent educational agreement which was signed between Leeds and Lille city councils and the education authority in Lille.  This is a guest blog by Victoria Jacquiss from the Silver Steel Sparrows who went to Lille earlier this month to teach young people to play the steelpans and to perform at Lille’s “Kids Art” festival.

all Sparrows at Lille Friday

On my last trip to Lille, where I introduced my own particular pedagogy for teaching steelpans, I was invited to return with a band of players who could demonstrate that the pedagogy worked, and who could also teach the music students and the music teachers of Lille how to use the system and how to get the best out of their relatively newly arrived steelpans. They also wanted us to play at the Youth Mom Arts Festival, which lasted for four weeks from May to June.

Thus the six of us found ourselves on Eurostar on June 6th. And then teaching at the Maison Folies Moulins from Tuesday to Friday, with the big concert on Thursday evening, and a little one at a brand new school on Friday evening. We also visited the Conservatoire Wednesday afternoon to see their teaching and some of their central youth ensembles.

Along the way we taught five different Yr 6 classes, who children were International relations personified, coming as they did from Morocco, Senegal, Congo and everywhere. In one class, only three were French born. We also supported Viviane teaching the adult taster class on Tuesday evening, and on Wednesday and Thursday aftern we rehearsed Under the Boardwalk and Rolling in the Deep with the music teachers from Lille Conservatoire , the first tune incorporating three conservatoire musician’s own instruments [flute, accordion and cello], and own ideas for the arrangements.

 We stayed at newly-opened and wonderful Gastama Hostel, where we, as with everywhere else, were received like Royalty. The music teachers and people from International Relations worked tirelessly to ensure that our trip was a success. The only negative thing about it all was that we had to come back to the United Kingdom!

Arrival at Lille.JPG