By Davina Patel
Initiatives of Change UK’s Sustainable Communities Programme is excited to be partnering with Brunel University Global Challenges students to host a creative and educational intergenerational dialogue event in Hackney 2022.
This inspiring and timely collaboration comes as the world continues to grapple with the ongoing conflicts, threats and deep divisions in the world.
Four third-year undergraduate students have chosen and committed to working closely with the Sustainable Communities Programme for the next four months to develop and deliver an intergenerational dialogue event in Hackney as part of their degree.
They have been working very hard since September 2021 to create and develop a business plan and cultivate an innovative approach to tackle intergenerational conflict as part of IofC UK’s flagship programme.
Initiatives of Change UK’s Head of Sustainable Communities Programme, Amina Khalid, along with its National Director, Paul Gutteridge and the Speaker of Hackney Cllr Michael Desmond are excited to be attending the student’s business pitch as all four students will present jointly their plan of action to an audience of Global Challenges students, lecturers and wider participating guests.
Amina Khalid, Head of Sustainable Communities, Initiatives of Change UK, said: “We are so delighted to be working with one of the top universities in the country, and it’s very refreshing to see that this new and much needed BASc degree provides and prepares students to tackle some of the most pressing issues facing our world. Their engagement on the ground with our international organisation will give them a deeper understanding of the reality facing our communities as well as becoming key stakeholders.
The four students taking part work with a passionate interest in understanding the short fallings within systems in our society. Working in conjunction with IofC UK’s Sustainable Communities Programme, offers them with a chance to aid in solving a multifaceted social problem.
Karl, aged 23 who studies social cohesion, said: “I was born in Cape Town, South Africa and moved to the UK when I was 13. Progressing through the English school system shaped me by dealing with cases of xenophobic behaviour. I have always had an affinity for wishing to engage with and understand why certain groups face socio-economic exclusion across the world. I study Social Cohesion; this pathway has been vital in supporting my exploration of the insidious formation of societal challenges. I have chosen to work with the IofC as it poses to be a valuable and exciting first opportunity to work with a hands-on approach in tackling some of the challenges that lie between generations and communities within Hackney.
Nuradean, aged 22 who studies Security, said: “Born and raised in Brent, North West London, I saw a lot of society’s ills on my doorstep. Inequality, homelessness and poverty were all problems plaguing my area from the early 2000s. I remained headstrong in my efforts to continue education and get a sustainable job to support my family, however with all of the temptations in the area this proved difficult. I put my strength in my family and friends, and created strong networks with Academics and people of influence in Brent to help change the area for myself, my family and generations to come.
Alexis, aged 22 who studies Social Cohesion, said: “The only daughter of Tongan parents, I was born in Sydney Australia before moving to North London at the age of 4. My family immigrated to the UK for work, and to provide a quality education for their children. My father has been an orthopedic surgeon in the NHS for 13 years, and my mother, a project developer for over a decade in the Commonwealth Secretariat. My parents have always been the blueprint of my inspirations to pursue my interests such as development, activism, social responsibility and empowerment. I have followed their lead to pursue an undergraduate degree at Brunel, with the Global Challenges course under the social cohesion pathway. In the future I hope to follow a career in development management where I aim to eradicate inequality. I chose to work with Initiatives of Change because I related to their sustainable communities programme on a personal level. In regards to their ethos and the challenges they were aiming to overcome I felt as though the issues that were being discussed hit a bit close to home. Similar to the IofC manifesto I want to create, empower and engage in making personal changes that will hopefully create equal, peaceful, sustainable and strong communities and institutions.”
Giacomo, aged 27, who studies Planetary Health, said: “I grew up in Italy until I decided to move to England when I was 24. I study Planetary Health at Brunel University in London, this module allowed me to understand the fundamental aspects of environmental, health and social science needed to create sustainable changes in our communities around the world. In Italy I worked for a cultural association that works towards bringing local youth together, and for the enhancement of the human and material capital of the country through information, sports, art, cuisine, and culture. My mission has always been to create initiatives detached from the logic of consumption allowing inhabitants and the environment to live in symbiosis. I decided to work with IofC because it will be an opportunity for me to address the challenges of the intergenerational dialogue in Hackney taking action to develop a stronger sense of community to solve these issues.”
The intergenerational training serves as a catalyst for understanding, building bridges across divides and in developing a framework that can be applied in the home and in the community towards an inclusive peace. So far, over 700 training sessions have been delivered in London, Coventry, Northampton, Bristol, Switzerland (UN Library), Serbia, Sweden and Netherlands. Intergenerational training serves to increase the understanding of the challenges faced by each generation, which leads to trust building. We have fostered new relationships between families, disconnected youth, police and others, resulting in stronger, more resilient communities.