Brighton and Hove community workers welcome South African exchange visitors

Posted On 11 May 2011 at 4:23 pm

A group of exchange visitors head back home to South Africa tomorrow (Thursday 12 May) after spending a week in Brighton and Hove.

The 12 visitors – on an “active citizens” exchange – were received at Brighton Town Hall by the Mayor of Brighton and Hove, Councillor Geoff Wells.

They were accompanies by the group of community activists from Brighton and Hove who themselves spent a week in South Africa in March.

The visitors were also given a tour of the Houses of Parliament by Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas.

The exchange was arranged through the Novas Scarman social justice charity with funding from the British Council.

Brighton and Hove is one of four British cities taking part in the programme.

Simon Mills, Active Citizens Global Programme manager at the British Council, said: “It is fantastic to see the programme in Brighton and Hove engaging such a diverse group of people from different community groups and expanding their learning around community development.”

The visitors arrived last Thursday (5 May) and have been to see projects such as the Sussex Beacon, Radio Free Brighton and the allotment-based Plot 22.

They also attended briefing sessions on topics such as project development, strategic planning and international fundraising. The social events during their stay included the Children’s Parade.

All 12 said that their experiences during the exchange had been invaluable and that they would use what they had learnt in projects and communities back home.

Keitumetse Basime, 26, who runs a kitchen for families living with HIV and Aids in East London, South Africa, learnt about Hungry Monkeys cookery classes for 5 to 12-year-olds.

She said: “To come here and see how the Hungry Monkeys classes work, and share experiences with those running it, has been so important.

“From this I have got so many ideas and I know I have a whole network of people I can  now talk to who can help me with my project – and I can also help them.”

Plans are being laid to continue the learning long after the exchange is over.

Vannessa Crawford, project development manager at the Black and Ethnic Minority Young People’s Project (BMEYPP) in Brighton, said: “The South Africans came to see a youth performance on Saturday that we did as part of the Youth Arts Festival and were inspired by it.

“They feel that the young people in their community would hugely benefit from taking part in similar workshops that explore the issues affecting them.

“We have been discussing setting up a youth exchange so they can learn from each other.

“It has really energised me.”

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