CFL IN ISTANBUL MISSING LINK PROJECT

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Two CFL volunteers participated in an international project. A West Midlands based organisation undertook a second partner meeting in Istanbul the heart of Turkey from the 5/9th June, 2013. The project was entitled Missing Link and is a European project exploring aspects and issues of disability in an international context. The group comprised of fourteen participants who travelled from different parts of England to participate in this international project. The group consisted of practitioners, Youth & Community workers, Child & Community Psychologists, parents of disabled children and people with disabilities such as hearing impairments.

The actual project had several delegations who travelled to Turkey from countries such as Sweden & Belgium. The Turkish partners hosted all participants and facilitated seminars, presentations and site visits. The UK participants presented knowledge and awareness around aspects and issues f disability in a British context. This presentation encompassed a variety of aspects such as UN international conventions & laws, welfare reforms, lived experience, British signage amongst other things. Participants also had opportunities to work in group settings, share best practice and prepare materials. Group members shared their lived experiences of disability and shared stories. Amair Akhtar participated on this project he is profoundly deaf in both ears. He said “I am extremely grateful for being chosen to take part in this international project. I had the opportunity to meet people from around Europe and share my experiences as I have a hearing impairment and I also work in an environment with deaf individuals. I had an opportunity to promote community cohesion, disability awareness and the rights of marginalised groups in an international context. This project allowed me to meet people from different backgrounds and cultures. This was a memorable experience that has helped me broaden my knowledge and I believe this project played a fantastic role in international work and promoting awareness of a variety of issues which are not often at the forefront of society. I hope to disseminate my learning with colleagues and peers to inspire other to participate in future projects”.

Group members also visited learning centres which specially tailored for community members and children who had disabilities. Some group members shared presents and exchanged gifts with parents and young people. They had the opportunity to network and develop friendships in an international context. Our group was specially invited to attend an annual celebration meeting with one of the most prominent organisations in Istanbul. The Istanbul Municipalities based organisation which has a reach of over one million adult users held an exhibition and celebration event where over 20, 000 people attended. Our group was hosted with special VIP treatment. The Mayor of Istanbul was in attendance as well as organisational Directors. The exhibition was thoroughly enjoyed by our participants and contained a variety of artistic designs, handmade goods, fashion designs, art work as well as furniture and community designed products. Participants shared best practice over group meals and had the opportunity to taste traditional Turkish cuisines, sweets and foods.

Participants also had opportunities to undertake excursions during their stay in Istanbul. They visited famous historic sites such as the Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar. They also visited Topkapi Museum and observed Islamic artefacts and relics which were thousands of years old. The Missing Link project was a resounding success and we hope to continue our progressive & inclusive approach in order to move towards transformative social change.

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