We are proud to announce that SLYNCS, a Blackburn-based youth-empowerment organisation, has been awarded the prestigious European Citizen's Prize 2015. The organisation, founded in 2013 by social entrepreneur Jaffer Hussain, was nominated for the prize by Julie Ward, Labour MEP for the North West of England.
Julie Ward MEP has said:
"I first met young people from SLYNCS at a discussion panel on Ummah Channel TV in early 2014 and was hugely impressed at the level of intelligent questions posed to me and the other speakers. In an age when young people are attacked for apparent lack of engagement in citizenship these individuals demonstrated an extraordinary level of curiosity and concern about the world they live in."
"Engaging and involving young people socially and politically is key to investing in our future. Young people in the North West, throughout UK, and across Europe play a role in shaping our society. I am delighted that SLYNCS has received such recognition for the important work they do."
Each year the European Parliament awards the European Citizen's prize to individuals and organisations who demonstrate exceptional achievements in promoting mutual understanding, closer integration and co-operation between citizens throughout the European Union, strengthening the European Spirit of peace and tolerance.
SLYNCS (Strengthening Links Between Youth, Networks, Communities and Specialists) supports young people in developing and delivering social action projects based on issues that affect them and their communities. SLYNCS also aims to enable young people to engage with decision makers from a range of sectors to ensure that their views are being listened to and acted upon.
Since its creation, SLYNCS very quickly realised the importance of taking an international approach to their work. Even prior to the organisation's official creation, members of the SLYNCS team had taken part in a study visit to a youth organisation in Germany to learn about youth participation and how to engage young people in decision-making. During this initial visit it was agreed that an exchange programme would be set up between the two countries. In 2013 young people from Germany and the UK, as well as other partner countries including Macedonia and Bosnia Herzegovina, travelled to Berlin to learn about different types and styles of leadership and how they could make an impact back in their local towns and cities.
Theresa Griffin MEP said:
"I am delighted that SLYNCS have won this award, it is a recognition of the incredibly important work they are doing with young people across the North West"
The international exchange has since become a regular event, and in June 2014 members of the SLYNCS team again attended a youth participation study visit, this time looking at different facilitation methods and how organisations could support young people to become peer facilitators within their own organisations.
Back home in Blackburn the organisation is now putting its increasing knowledge of youth-empowerment to good use, exploring issues of homelessness, discrimination and interfaith dialogue in particular. At an international level, SLYNCS is working with new and existing partners in Germany, Bosnia Herzegovina, Macedonia and Tunisia, on subjects such as the media and the exploration of common shared history between all the participating countries.
Afzal Khan MEP said:
"Young people have a vast amount of skill and potential to offer the North West and Europe. It’s crucial that we engage them on all levels as full members of society in order for us to progress. The work SLYNCS has done is a very positive step towards this and I am delighted to see that they have won this award for the incredibly important work they have done"
A medal ceremony will take place in the UK within the coming months, with a second prize-giving event set to take place in Brussels in October.
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Cultural Manager for Julie Ward MEP