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This report provides a summary of the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) conference “Shaping Interculturalism in Youth Work: Exploring the successes, challenges and barriers facing the youth sector” held in Dublin on 28th November 2008. It reviews the presentations and summarises the main themes arising from the roundtable discussions. 1 The one day event showcased successful youth projects and promoted debate on the barriers and challenges facing the youth sector as it embraces interculturalism. The conference was aimed at heads of organisations, policy makers, decision makers, youth workers, volunteers and anyone interested in interculturalism in youth work. One hundred and fifty five (155) delegates attended the conference. NYCI is a membership led umbrella organisation that represents and supports the interests of 50 national voluntary youth organisations and uses its collective experience to act on issues that impact on young people. The work of NYCI is based on the core values of equality and inclusion, voluntary participation, respect for all young people, safety for all young people, partnership approach, empowerment of young people and their involvement in decision making. The conference was opened by Barry Andrews T.D., Minister for Children and Youth Affairs who was welcomed by Mary Cunningham, Director of NYCI. This was followed by a key note speech from Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, distinguished journalist, broadcaster and author. Three other speakers set the context of the conference – Philip Watt, CEO of the National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism; Eddie D’Arcy, President of NYCI and Siobhán Lynam, Intercultural Consultant. The main part of the day involved three roundtable discussions: 1. Exploring current intercultural practice in youth work 2. Embedding interculturalism in youth work – What are our responsibilities and obligations? 3. What supports are needed to embed interculturalism effectively within your organisations? Each of the roundtable discussions was preceded by a video on the topics of Traveller lives, migrant’s experiences and Irish identity 2 . To close the day, a summary of the main themes arising in the roundtable discussions was reported by Anna Fiona Keogh, Social Research Consultant.

1 2

The language in this report aimed to reflect the actual language and words used by delegates. Video input 1- ‘Young Pavee Voices’ available on request from Pavee Point , Tel: 01 8780255 Video input 2 – ‘Yu Ming is Ainm Dom’, Dough Productions, Ireland. Also available on You Tube Part 1 Part 2 Video input 3 - ‘Isolation’, taken from Migrant Stories: The Voices of Migrant Workers. A collection of 18 digital stories produced by The Rural Media Company and available for £10. Contact

KEY POINTS MADE BY SPEAKERS The context for the conference was outlined by a number of the speakers. Barry Andrews remarked that this conference is timely especially as 2008 is the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue. He explained that with the signing of the Nice Treaty the government made the decision to open the labour markets in advance of the other EU countries to an extent that few of the other member states did. This is one of the reasons that we now have a large immigrant population in Ireland and an obligation to make sure that they are welcomed. Philip Watt pointed out that 15% of our workforce is made up of people who were not born in Ireland and that over 160 languages are now spoken in Ireland. He argued that there has been some progress over the last 10 years in relation to developing an intercultural society, for example, the National Action Plan against Racism was launched in 2005 and there have been various strategies in health, housing, tourism and arts, in policing and the workplace. He stated that opinion polls towards diversity are very positive in Ireland, although public opinion towards asylum seekers and Travellers is less favourable. He argued that we need to be concerned about the increase in reported racist incidents. In 2004, there were 66 reports compared to approximately 200 currently. In relation to the youth work sector, Minister Andrews reminded us that the National Youth Work Development Plan 2003 – 2007 makes specific reference to the multicultural nature of Irish society and the NYCI has developed an Intercultural Strategy for the Youth Work sector. To complement this strategy the National Youth Work Advisory Committee (NYWAC) has identified the area of interculturalism and equality in youth work settings for priority action and has established a working group which Minister Andrews delivers his opening remarks is charged with the function of implementing the strategy.

Interculturalism and integration Yasmin Alibhai-Brown argued that there are some essential stages in the process of becoming an intercultural society which cannot be missed out or accelerated through. She offered some helpful ways to think about interculturalism. One way of thinking about interculturalism is to use ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ as a metaphor. In ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ there is a professional dancer (the indigenous person), and the amateur (the migrant). It only works if they accommodate each other. The pro has to do his or her bit, has to give, has to be patient, has to change and treat their partner with absolute respect and equality until they make it work. You cannot ask the amateur to do all the work. Interculturalism is not just about asking incomers to do this and that. It only works if it is a two-way responsibility. She also pointed out that interculturalism happens naturally – friendships and love happen naturally. This is an invaluable resource – we have to notice how this happens in a natural way between young people and support and encourage it.

Keynote speaker Yasmin Alibhai Brown

She argued that it is important to avoid certain concepts. The metaphor of the ‘host and guest’, however kindly meant, is unhelpful as it says “you can never be one of us”. Similarly the concept of ‘tolerance’ does not work. It is too minimal, too reluctant, too precious and not about human interaction. People are often afraid to say the wrong thing. Finally, the concept of multiculturalism is inadequate because it does not address two essential factors – equality and anti-racism. She argued that interculturalism is bound to fail without these. To avoid interculturalism becoming an “empty thing, devoid of history, devoid of soul”, we need to keep asking the bigger questions. Is there a way the whole conversation about immigration can be different? Why do so many people move around the world as they do at the moment? Should education be teaching children why immigration is happening – why are there Nigerian or Polish people on our streets? For there to be a meaningful intercultural dialogue, Alibhai-Brown suggested that we need to support young people to talk honestly to each other and ask such difficult questions. A young immigrant must be able to say “sometimes I hate the way I’m treated in Dublin” and an Irish young person must be able to say “how come there is all this genocide in your country?” She argued that this dialogue leads to empathy and a more honest encounter. Yasmin’s full speech can be heard on or on

Economic climate All the speakers made reference to the current economic climate. According to Watt, the recent cutbacks should cause us grave concern. He stated that the NCCRI had its budget cut by 100% and in the youth sector there was a 10% cut. There have also been budget cuts for the Equality Authority, the Irish Rights Commission, and the Office for Minister of Immigration, and initiatives such as the language resource teachers have also been disproportionately cut. He argued that we must be wary of the mindset that believes that now that we are in a recession, migrants will go home. We are a multicultural society and diversity is here to stay. It is very important that everyone here remains focused, positive and forward looking even in these times to ensure intercultural dialogue and strategies continue to be at the fore. The current economic situation was also highlighted by Andrews. He argued that there is a fear that those on the margins and those new to Irish society will find themselves victims of intolerance in the current economic climate. He pointed out that it would be ironic having resolved “the seemingly intractable intercultural conflict and violence” with the North that we would “now blunder into a fresh intercultural conflict of our own making” because we did not see the warnings signs and collectively make the effort to address the problems. Although Yasmin Alibhai-Brown acknowledged the concerns of the other speakers about the economic crisis, she argued that the economic argument should not be an excuse for poor attitudes to immigrants. She pointed out that even though in the last ten years, Britain had never been so rich, the attitude to migrants reached really terrible levels.

Role of the youth sector Speakers suggested various ways that the youth sector can support interculturalism. According to Eddie D’Arcy, the real challenge for us in the youth sector, particularly in the current economic climate, is to take a leading role in raising issues related to interculturalism with young people. Barry Andrews encouraged the youth sector to reach out to the new communities whilst acknowledging how difficult this will be with the recent cuts in funding. He encouraged the youth sector to explore how the arts can support working in intercultural contexts. Philip Watt suggested that we make sure youth work services are inclusive of the whole community. We need proactive intercultural policies to ensure all people have access to the services. Youth work can also play an important role in getting the voices of young people from migrant communities heard. Siobhán Lynam spoke about the findings from focus groups she facilitated on inclusion with immigrant families. The families had been living in Ireland for at least 7 years. This makes us consider the question: When do you stop being an immigrant or a new community? The level of racism experienced by young people is quite shocking according to her consultations. Exclusion and isolation amongst young people is prevalent. None of the families had heard about the youth services but parents were very willing to volunteer their skills. She addressed some of the reasons youth workers may give for not engaging young people from minority ethnic groups. Some say that youth work funding is targeted towards disadvantaged groups. However the reality is that some young people from minority ethnic groups are most disadvantaged. People say they work within a specific geographical location or in a parish, however she points out that only RAPID areas are defined. People say they work with defined age groups. What about accommodating younger children in after school programmes, family resources centres, crèches etc? People have difficulty accessing young people from minority ethnic groups. Perhaps we need to access them through schools, churches but also in supermarkets etc. Youth workers say that they cannot really deal with the racism that they expect young people to express. All youth workers need to address bullying as an issue and racism comes within that. People say they have not got intercultural training but she makes the point that if you go on holiday to Spain you do not go to a training course beforehand – interculturalism is about relationships. Conference delegates

Siobhán argued that the Youth Work Act and Youth Work Development Plan expect us to address interculturalism. Youth workers do not have to think about intercultural strategies on their own, rather intercultural youth work is about working with others, acknowledging the diversity and responding to that and making sure that we are promoting equality and inclusion. She argued that we need to change our mindset and work collaboratively. After the morning coffee break the roundtable discussions began. Each table had a facilitator and a note-taker. The note-takers’ notes have been compiled and summarised in the following report.

The conference showcased a number of innovative intercultural projects3

Kids’ Own and Kerry Diocesan Youth Service (KDYS) showcasing their intercultural projects at the Conference

Navan Traveller Project run a number of intercultural programmes

Peacecorps Localise displaying their intercultural community project

Other showcasers included the Irish Girl Guides, North West Inner City Network (NWICN) and NYCI’s new art publication In2

Also showcased at the conference was work from EIL Intercultural Learning’s recent project ‘Footprints for Human Rights’

Patricia Higgins (Canal Communities Intercultural Centre). Beauty Agbonlahor (Integration of African Children in Ireland) and Johnny Sheehan (NYCI) in conversation

ROUNDTABLE 1: EXPLORING CURRENT INTERCULTURAL PRACTICE IN YOUTH WORK? Question 1. What is your understanding of interculturalism and integration in the context of your own youth based activities? Conference delegates described interculturalism in a number of ways. Interculturalism is: • Ensuring that cultural diversity is acknowledged, embraced, catered for and celebrated. • Understanding and respecting your own and other people’s cultures. • More comprehensive than multiculturalism and goes beyond tokenism. • Not simply a two way process, rather interculturalism is made up of complex layers. It may be considered as a tapestry. It is the process by which we come together, listen and learn from each other. It involves people meeting, and exploring each other’s backgrounds and origins. It is a dialogue and relationship between various ethnic groups. It is about breaking down barriers and finding similarities. It is about promoting inclusion, fairness, justice and diversity. Interculturalism requires acceptance that there are difficulties which have to be addressed. It requires openness, curiosity and interest as well as tolerance and understanding. We need to broaden our world view. There were a lot of similar ideas in the discussion about the concept of ‘integration’. Integration is about belonging, sharing and peaceful coexistence. It is about people getting involved in a number of levels in society and working together, despite their differences. In a youth work context, there was discussion about how we must be proactive and hands on to ensure the participation of young people from all ethnic groups. We must provide a safe space for them to explore their own culture and interact with young people from other cultures. Interculturalism challenges us to look at what culture is. This is particularly important when working with young people who are trying to make sense of ‘who I am’ and ‘where am I going’. We must help young people to have pride in their identity. As youth workers we must be prepared to take a risk and not to be afraid of saying the wrong things. As can be seen, people described interculturalism in various ways, however for some it was a confusing term and they did not know what it actually means. There was also some confusion around the term ‘integration’ with some people suggesting that ‘equality’, ‘interaction’ and ‘interdependence’ are more favourable terms to use.

Question 2. How has your organisation responded to implementing and promoting intercultural youth work to date – what actions have been taken? The next question asked delegates to discuss what actions their organisations have taken to implement and promote intercultural youth work. Some stated that the concept of

interculturalism is already embedded in their work. Intercultural work takes place almost intangibly. It filters into all their work. Examples of actions included: • • • • • • • • • • •

Discussing interculturalism at staff meetings; Attending events like this conference; Providing staff with training on interculturalism, inclusion and racism; Developing and delivering training courses; Developing toolkits and guidelines on integration and resources for youth workers; Learning about cultures, taking the time to engage with the issues and trying to be aware of cultural sensitivities; Establishing links and collaborating with other organisations and services; Identifying gaps in their services and pool resources with other organisations; Commissioning research with minority ethnic communities; Involving local people to translate documents into different languages; Running a small grants scheme for groups who are interested in running projects arts based with intercultural focus.

In terms of day-to-day youth work, delegates talked about how they have: • • • • •

Accessed young people from minority ethnic communities by outreach work, having an open door policy, talking to parents, sending information to schools about services, contacting language teachers in schools, advertising and word of mouth; Run workshops with young people to prepare them to integrate and to work with young people from other cultures before they meet with other groups; Run integrated activity based projects – sport/arts/cooking; Organised intercultural events; Promoted and run festivals and special events that encourage sharing/learning about different cultures and celebrating them.

Some examples of projects included: • • • • • • • •

An intercultural workshop with young people (10-12 yrs) presenting with challenging behaviours; A visit to a mosque in Dublin by a youth group as there were some Muslim members; Weekend and summer intercultural programmes and exchanges; Trips abroad to meet other young people; A big sister/little sister project; Organising the provision of childcare for asylum seekers in a reception hostel; Specific projects for young people from different minority ethnic groups; Working on getting young Travellers represented on forums and panels such as Comhairle na nÓg and the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs; and training them for participation.

Question 3. What challenges has your organisation faced to date in doing intercultural youth work? Delegates identified a number of the challenges their organisations have faced in doing intercultural youth work.

Managing the change • Handling the change to an intercultural society was identified as a challenge. People discussed the fear of change, of losing power and of losing one’s own identity. This is relevant both for staff working with young people and young people themselves.

Lack of knowledge and understanding • •

Some people suggested that there is a general lack of awareness and understanding about other cultures and what interculturalism means. It is not acknowledged as an issue and is avoided. The term ‘ethnicity’ may not be understood. There is a lack of knowledge of other cultures when organising events e.g. food and a lack of knowledge about how parents raise their children in different cultures and the place of youth in other cultures.

Racism/prejudice • •

Our perceptions influence our attitudes towards members from minority ethnic communities. Assumptions are made about where people are from and why they came to Ireland, and also what life is like in other countries. Knowing how to address racism and prejudice amongst young people and youth workers is a challenge. The question was asked: if an organisation doesn’t want to work on interculturalism does it mean it is racist?

Cultural differences •

Managing cultural and religious differences were identified as a challenge. In relation to youth work, dealing with some cultural differences is difficult, including sex education and attitudes towards authority figures.

Accessing young people from minority ethnic groups •

• •

Accessing young people from minority ethnic groups is a challenge. The ethnic and cultural diversity in the community is not reflected in projects. It is difficult to get young people in the door especially as structurally marginalised young people are difficult to include. Also those whose families are illegal will not access services. Some suggested that the current services are not interesting to young people from other communities. Other delegates stated that they did not actively target young people from minority ethnic groups. Should we be targeting these young people and if so how? If they do join, it is difficult to keep them involved. One person spoke about how young people were pulled out of a project by their community as they were becoming too vocal – there was too much social change for that community in that time.

Parental attitudes •

The point was made that parents of young people from the new communities may be less trusting of the youth service. They may not understand the benefits of youth work and what it is in an Irish context. They may have the notion that youth work is only for young people who get into trouble and do not want their children involved in youth work. Parents may also have a fear their culture and identity may be lost if their children mix with Irish people. Language was also identified as a challenge. Parents may not understand what is happening or understand the consent form. Parents of Irish young people may also influence their children’s participation in intercultural projects. Often kids feel they need parents’ permission to engage with other nationalities.

Whether or not to have separate groups? •

One discussion was around when it is appropriate to do work with specific minority ethnic groups e.g. Traveller only, Romanian only, etc. For example, a particular programme for immigrants can create further isolation for them and resentment among Irish young people who argue ‘non nationals get everything’.

Integrating groups •

Integrating groups can be challenging. Interculturalism can be a difficult concept to sell to young people. Young people may prefer to stay in their own groups. For example, young people in some Traveller only groups have their own activities and

• •

projects and don’t want to join others; parents may not want their children to be in an integrated project with boys and girls (e.g. settled boys and Traveller girls); Social class differences can also make integrating projects difficult. Some young people from the new communities may look down on working class Irish young people. Some people also stated that collaboration with other leaders can be difficult.

Meaningful interaction • • •

It can be difficult to make the interaction between young people in intercultural groups meaningful. For example, one group made a film about asylum seekers but the young people did not actually interact with the asylum seeker. Young people may be open to integration but do not know how to break down barriers. They may not know how to talk about their issues and cultural identity. Issues like shyness may also present a challenge to intercultural youth work. Youth workers need tools of dialogue to talk about difficult topics and to deal with conflicts in a positive way. The point was also made that dealing with issues like bullying, violence and different opinions is normal youth work.

Funding/resources/time •

Lack of funding and resources was identified as a challenge. The concept of disadvantage needs to be looked at and funding directed at disadvantage needs to be targeted at intercultural youth work.

Policy/organisational issues • • •

Delegates talked about the lack of policies for intercultural work. There is a challenge in getting senior management to support and buy into interculturalism. Developing an intercultural strategy is also difficult – one person stated they were ‘terrified of putting a foot wrong.’ It can be difficult for youth workers to challenge other youth workers’ bad practice.

Wider social/political contexts •

Some challenges relating to the wider social and political context were identified by delegates. There is little government support for interculturalism. The media has been irresponsible in dealing with diversity issues, and this has hampered and added to challenges. The economic recession and issues such as unemployment is likely to cause resentment towards foreign workers and immigrants. Finally, getting Garda clearance for non-Irish youth workers and volunteers can be difficult.

Delegates share ideas on intercultural youth work during round table discussions

ROUNDTABLE 2: EMBEDDING INTERCULTURALISM IN YOUTH WORK – WHAT ARE OUR RESPONSIBILITIES AND OBLIGATIONS? In the second roundtable discussion, delegates were asked to think about two different questions:

Question 1. What do you think your organisation can do to embed interculturalism into its practice? Question 2. What changes does your organisation need to make to embed interculturalism in youth work? The responses to these questions have been amalgamated below.

Intentional action •

Action to embed interculturalism needs to be intentional. There needs to be recognition that change is needed and that reflection on this issue is important. We need to be open to adapting and proactive about challenging and changing attitudes.

Needs based approach •

Youth work services are developed for young people – young people get involved in youth projects for their own reasons, so it is important that there is a ‘needs based’ approach.

Whole organisation approach •

• •

Interculturalism needs a ‘whole organisation approach’ so that everybody in the organisation, from senior staff to those working on the ground, support interculturalism and view it as positive so that it becomes a natural part of the work. There should be a culture of non-tolerance of racism and bullying. Time needs to be allocated to the development of intercultural practice. It can be discussed at staff meetings and practice needs to be reflected on. Best practice to promote what’s working well should be highlighted. All staff should be educated about interculturalism and equality and youth workers trained in skills required to deal with issues that may arise including racism, managing cultural differences and conflict. Training should include exploration of Irishness and our own identity, attitudes and prejudices. We need to consider how our offices look and make sure they are youth friendly and welcoming to people of other cultures and languages. It’s helpful to have signs and posters in different languages for example.

Development of intercultural policy • •

• •

There needs to be a clear aim to develop intercultural policy and it needs to be included in the development of strategic plans. Perhaps an external facilitator can support the development of a policy. Intercultural policies need to be real, not tokenistic. They should build on the current priorities and resources within the organisation. They must have realistic targets, outcomes and time frames. It must not be stand alone, but embedded in all organisation policies so that it is in the back of people’s mind just as gender or disability is. Policies must be informed by, and supportive of, practice and be implemented across the whole organisation from the ground up. Intercultural policy should be developed with all members of staff so that everybody takes ownership of it. Intercultural policy and practice should be monitored and reviewed.

It may be helpful to have one person with clear responsibility for the promotion of interculturalism within a team.

Representative staff •

The recruitment of suitably qualified people from different backgrounds should be encouraged. This may increase the numbers of minority ethnic young people accessing the service and a mix of nationalities on a youth work team provides understanding, energises people and builds resources in the organisation. Also having a mixed staff group makes it easier for young people to discuss issues related to interculturalism. Invest in and train up young people from different ethnic communities so they can go back into the community.

Meaningful interaction •

We need to create opportunities for meaningful interactions and encounters between young people. Sometimes we can be very focused on being politically correct and getting the paperwork done. We need to focus on meeting people and building relationships. Time needs to be invested in building relationships as it takes a long time to change behaviour and values. Some people argued that barriers and difference subside when a group identity forms.

Accessing young people •

We need to be open to interculturalism and invite in young people from minority ethnic groups. In terms of accessing them, we need to meet them where they are at including doing outreaches to churches, community centres and going door-to-door. Some people also suggested that we need to engage young people in intercultural projects at a very early age.

Ways to start intercultural work • • • •

• • •

Focus on the similar interests and experiences young people have in common and develop activities around popular topics such as music, sport, food and the arts. Start from the basics – encouraging acceptance, trust, respect and empathy. Perhaps have a charter of behaviours or group rules naming behaviours that are unacceptable such as name calling. Provide young people with the opportunities to ask difficult questions and discuss various issues. Help young people explore their own identity, values and pride in their community as a way of preparing them for intercultural work. Examine their experiences of stereotyping and prejudice e.g. attitudes that people have about young people from Tallaght. We need to be flexible in our work, to relax traditional values and be able to take risks and accept there will be mistakes along the way. Partner with organisations who are already doing this work and consult people from the local community and minority ethnic groups. Involve parents and the community in the development of projects.

Events/activities Delegates had various ideas of intercultural activities and events: • Get young people to cook a meal from their country and try food from other cultures. • Have an event where young people show how a wedding is celebrated in their country. • Celebrate different national days or festivals to recognise dates of importance to young people in our groups and to inform Irish young people about it. • Arts based programmes can often overcome some of the language barriers. • Organise events which get the community involved.


Praise and reward organisations and projects that have achieved an effective level of interculturalism.

Conference delegates share ideas during round table discussions

ROUNDTABLE 3: WHAT SUPPORTS ARE NEEDED TO EMBED INTERCULTURALISM EFFECTIVELY WITHIN YOUR ORGANISATIONS? The final roundtable discussion asked delegates to identify stakeholders who could support their organisations and practical supports their organisations need. The hope was that individual delegates could make a plan of where they can go to access support from stakeholders.

Question 1. Who are the stakeholders that could help support your intercultural youth work? Various stakeholders were identified by delegates: • •

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Young people and their parents Government departments: DSFA (Dept. Social and Family Affairs), OMCYA (Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs), etc Statutory agencies – VEC, HSE, FÁS, FETAC Office for the Ombudsman for Children City/county councils (e.g. DCC [Dublin City Council] have an inclusion/intercultural office) Area partnerships County Development Boards Citizen Information Centres An Pobal Public health nurses HSE managers Social workers Gardaí Schools, colleges and teachers After schools clubs Other youth groups Teen space Churches Local government and politicians ‘Home town’ associations Publications – Metro Eireann, African Voice and other foreign national newspapers/magazines National Parents Council Various NGOs NYCI and youth organisations Individual people/celebrities Funders – e.g. One Foundation, Leargas Unions – SIPTU (e.g. Polish section), ICTU, IMPACT etc Local businesses

• • • • • • •

Corporate bodies for securing funds Sports organisations – GAA, FAI, SARI (Sports Against Racism Ireland) Dáil na nÓg Foreign embassies EU (European Union) Libraries Train/bus/ football stadiums – places to exhibit info

Organisations with/for immigrants and intercultural centres such as: • Direct provision centres and the Equality • NCCRI 4 Authority • Office of Minister for Integration • Immigrant Council of Ireland • Migrant Rights Centre • Integrating Ireland • Africa Centre • AKIDWA • Access Ireland • Amnesty International • Development education programmes e.g. One World Centres • Irish Refugee Council • Refugee Legal Service (might be relevant for those working closely with young asylum seekers)


NCCRI has since been closed due to budgetary cutbacks but its website remains as a resource.

Question 2. What can stakeholders interculturalism in youth work?






Delegates identified the supports that stakeholders can offer: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Schools could develop good working relationships with youth workers Networking opportunities Mapping of services provided by stakeholders Stakeholders can promote the benefits of diversity More workers on the ground to put policies into practice More Traveller youth workers Government should be supporting agencies that support or educate about interculturalism. Commitment from Minister Barry Andrews and the Dept of Youth Affairs Legislation for change Training for parents through the National Parents Council. Accurate, adequate and up to date information and knowledge Evidence based research Time Expertise Funding Advice A voice Contacts Role modelling Cultural knowledge transfer e.g. practical information on different cultures Goodwill Premises Access to local community facilities ‘Castoffs’ from companies (furniture/computers) Share staff – barter services Internships

One delegate also pointed out that this is the first generation of young people who have been exposed to interculturalism and they are in a unique position to share their experiences of interculturalism with their parents. They should be supported in how they can share these experiences in a productive way.

Question 3. What practical supports does your organisation need (web based, print based and on the ground supports) to help embed interculturalism into youth work? Delegates identified a number of practical supports to help embed interculturalism into youth work:

Opportunities to network • • •

Opportunities for networking, dialogue and mutual support nationally and regionally would be useful. Establishing an online network and community. Web based newsletters.

• • • • • • •

Resources for activities with young people. Examples of positive, successful intercultural strategies, projects and case studies. Blue print for an intercultural policy. A template for anti-racism which is be practical and easy to understand. Information to keep up to date with new developments. Database of organisations that people can use to access new communities. Literature and video resource lists.

Training • • •

Toolkit and training on interculturalism (constant and ongoing). NYCI can assist by providing specific training on interculturalism to youth organisations. A list of trainers/training - Four organisations in Northern Ireland will provide free training on interculturalism to border counties – Hayboard, Youthlink, Youth Action, Youth Council of Northern Ireland.

NYCI could provide: • • • •

A description of each member organisation on their website and a link to the websites. Good practice guidelines Information and resources on the website. Does NYCI need to look at its structures to ensure people from different backgrounds are represented?

Conference delegates debate the topics

Other topics of discussion Over the course of the day, there were various discussions about topics such as identity and the youth work sector. What is an intercultural society? There was discussion about what we actually understand an intercultural society to be. Do we include Irish people and the Traveller community in our definition of integration and interculturalism? Do we understand integration as a melting pot – asking people to melt into the system rather than accepting them as they are? Are we actually expecting people to assimilate? What are we asking people to integrate into? Some delegates argued that Irish society is not open. On the surface integration exists, but when you scratch the surface there is still lots of segregation. More debate is needed to encourage open dialogue and challenge barriers. Some thought that an intercultural society is positive and beneficial and should be unifying as opposed to divisive. It should be considered an invitation, not an order. There was discussion about how interculturalism relates to democracy, human rights and citizenship which requires people to take responsibility for their own actions. We must be willing to change, compromise and make room to accommodate others. It is about human rights, inclusion and equality of opportunity, access and outcomes. It was felt that interculturalism will result in change for the youth service and signifies a way forward. Interculturalism and identity A discussion around identity is central to interculturalism. It was pointed out that sometimes there is a fear that if we embrace interculturalism, we will lose our sense of identity. This may be due to the fact that we do not know enough about our own identity and culture, or take pride in it. Some delegates argued that interculturalism is not about watering down identity, rather it is about building it. We also need to recognise that we all have multiple identities. Young people can feel Irish and Nigerian not just one or the other Issues related to the youth work sector Some delegates argued that the focus needs to be on youth work rather than interculturalism. Youth work is a tool through which interculturalism is done. There was a question about whether youth workers should be intercultural activists. Do they have a role in educating the community about interculturalism? The point was made that youth work is not very visible in the media and the youth work profession itself varies in its representation. It was felt that the profile of youth work could be raised through organisations like the NYCI.

CONCLUSION There were a number of important points made during the day: • • • • • • • •

Action to embed interculturalism in youth work needs to be intentional Organisations must recognise that change is needed Reflection on this issue is important. Interculturalism needs a ‘whole organisation approach’ so that everybody in the organisation, from senior staff to those working on the ground, support interculturalism Interculturalism must be viewed as positive It must become a natural part of the work. Opportunities for meaningful interactions and encounters between young people must be created. Opportunities to network were identified as very important.

On policy development: • • •

Intercultural policies must have realistic goals and time frames. Policies must be informed by practice and supportive of practice. Policies must be implemented across the whole organisation from the ground up.

Delegates suggested that NYCI and other such organisations could provide: • • • •

Training on interculturalism Networking opportunities Leadership Resources

Conference delegates make written contributions to the discussions

Report published in June 2009 by National Youth Council of Ireland

National Youth Council of Ireland 3 Montague Street Dublin 2 Tel: 01-478 4122 Fax: 01-478 3974 E-mail:



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