The British Council in 2009 began to implement a programme called Active Citizens. The main goal of the programme is to offer support to participants to take positive action for society change. The positive action may include activities for networking, advancing the cooperation, personal development and intercultural dialogue.
The British Council began to implement this programme in the Republic of Macedonia in 2010, with special emphasis on active citizenship and equal possibilities and diversity. The programme was conducted in two parts, and within the second one, on an invitation of the British Council, as a representative from PORAKA Maja Gacoska was included. After the training finished, which has been realised within this programme, the participants divided into groups conducted project activities, which have continued and spread this programme. The British Council, after the end of this part of the overall programme for Active Citizens project, organised a Study Visit for seven participants who visited Bradford, England in the period between 11th and 16th of July 2011. The goal was exchanging experiences and sharing knowledge both with people from there and with the representatives from Kosovo and Ermenia, where this programme of the British Council is also being implemented.
The hosts of the Study Visit were representatives of the Non-Governmental Organisation CNet, as well as volunteers engaged in different projects within Active Citizens. The Study Visit programme was designed so that each day had a special theme, and the organisations and places that we visited are included in the Active Citizens Project.
The theme of the first day was “Day in the City”. During the day a visit was organised to the City hall of Bradford, where the participants were welcomed by a representative of the City Council and the Lord Mayor of Bradford, who explained the way in which the City Hall functions and also the divisiveness of the authority between the Hall and the Lord Mayor. Then, participants visited Kala Sangam, South Asian arts cultural organisation that exists to promote and raise awareness regarding the understanding and appreciation of these traditions using a variety of innovative approaches, whilst improving awareness of racial, cultural and social issues. A tour of the Bradford Cathedral proceeded, and also a visit to the Peace Museum, the only museum in the UK dedicated to the collection, conservation and interpretation of material relating to the history and development of peace, non-violence and conflict resolution. The first day ended with a visit to Doe Park, which provides recreational activities on the water including sailing, kayaking and raft building. The participants took part in one of the activities.
The second day was dedicated to Education in the Community. The participants had the opportunity to visit different education venues in the city: nursery schools, primary schools and the Bradford College and the Library. Also, the participants visited the Autism Support Center that cooperates with the City Hall and receives a part of the necessary funds for its functioning. The afternoon was reserved for Bangladeshi Youth Organisation that exists for over 25 years and conducts different youth project, and also runs a Community Center where young people come every day for recreational and leisure activities.
The participants spent the third day in the City of York also known as the capital of the North of England. 14th of July was dedicated to the Social Action in the Inner City. The first destination was the Friends of Lister park organisation. It is an organization, which voluntarily attends for this park, its cleanliness and organises different outdoor activities. They cooperate with large number of other organisations that implement outdoor activities in the park. Such event was ongoing that day called “Born in Bradford” and it is a part of a large health research programme following the lives of 14.000 babies from the womb to adulthood in Bradford. Next on the programme was the visit to Carlisle Business Centre where young people attend courses for different occupations. The last visit in the morning part was to Grosvenor Play Project, which is lead by a local residents group and supported by the Department of Regeneration and Culture, Bradford Council. This project is aimed for the youth in that area of the city and is consisted of large number of educational and recreational workshops. The participants in the Study tour visited the National Media Museum, which is a home to over 3.5 million items of historical significance for the media and their development. The day ended with a visit to Bradford Resource Centre, in Little Germany (part of Bradford). Different vulnerable groups in the community are beneficiaries of this Centre, and here they can get necessary information, learn the English language and also to have a warm meal.
The last day of the Study visit was organised in Keighley, town near Bradford. The day began with a visit to the Cliffe Castle Museum where you can see glittering minerals, local rocks and fossils, as well as an exhibition of old dolls, toys and domestic items. This was followed by a visit to the Museums Education Centre where children of different age and groups come to be introduced to the toys and games from the Victorian Era. The participants also had the opportunity to visit University Academy Keighley, which is a newly opened and offers state of the art facilities and learning conditions for the students. At the same time, there is a special school for students with disabilities, which for the moment operates separately, but it is planed for the doors that divide the two schools to be open in the near future. The special school, like the University Academy, offers the state of the art learning conditions for students with disabilities, as well as assistive computer technology and adapted working programmes, physiotherapy and hydrotherapy. The last activity during the Study Visit was the travel to Malham, a small village, where various outdoor activities are offered.
In the further course of this project it is foreseen to continue the cooperation and prepare new and interesting activities that shall be conducted till March next year, and shall incorporate the knowledge and experiences gained in Bradford.