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British Council

I gained leadership and analytical skills; I am able to communicate freely and have no problem speaking to a business owner, for example. I also gained a new skill, which I think is very important – to find friends from [a different] community.

Participant in Changemakers Academy project, Estonia

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Life cycle

2016-21

Country/Region

Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania

Client/Partner

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)

Vision

The People to People (P2P) cultural engagement programme builds cohesion between people from different communities in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania while improving their access to international networks and opportunities.  

Situation

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have been identified by the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office as priority countries where the UK can play a positive role by supporting community cohesion and skills development. With our expertise in the arts, education and active citizenship, we are well-placed to work with partner organisations to build relations between people. We engage with a diverse range of audiences, from government leaders to minority groups, to develop skills, look beyond language barriers and gain an appreciation of universal values that are shared locally, in the UK and in Europe.

Implementation

P2P works with partner organisations in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. It supports programmes and projects that help to deliver three outcomes: develop 21st-century skills, create change through social actions, and widen perspectives through the arts. We engage with an audience representing different genders, races, religions, ages, physical abilities and socio-economic backgrounds. Examples of action include:

  • Developing teacher networks in the three countries and the UK that allow teachers to exchange methodology, especially in 21st-century skills development. 
  • Youth empowerment projects and community-led social actions, following the British Council’s ‘Active Citizens’ approach. This enables participants to develop social leadership and enterprise skills. 
  • Workshops, seminars and events focused on social cohesion and critical thinking. 

Impact 

We measure the impact of our initiatives against the three target project outcomes stated above, for example:

  • Connections between communities and harder-to-reach groups: The Cultural Ambassadors Academy in Latvia helped a closed community, Russian Old Believers, tour a successful exhibition about their culture.
  • Social actions and 21st-century skills: In Changemakers Academy, run by the Estonian Social Enterprise Network, 275 young people have joined local social enterprises and been trained in three years, supporting their communities with social actions that have had an estimated value of £78,000. 
  • Affinity for each other’s values: Lithuania’s Salcia: Nezinoma zeme show, based on stories from the Salcininkai community, drew 1,000 spectators in two venues. It won a National Equality and Diversity Award for building bridges between ethnic groups.
  • P2P has been extended until 2021 with some lessons learnt from the first phase. Further improvements will develop in communication, sharing audience-targeted stories and using digital evaluation. Working with education systems was an effective way to reach target populations so we will focus on teacher training and connect with authorities. We will also engage with older audiences, working with community centres and third-age universities

Mutual benefit

The project supports our efforts and those of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in building bilateral relations with European countries, particularly in the context of the UK’s vote to leave the EU. We draw on UK expertise to deliver a range of educational and cultural projects in partnership with local organisations in the three countries. It contributes to global security by promoting stability in the region. In addition, the project helps local individuals to gain skills and supports the national government strategies of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to build bilateral relations with the UK in education, civil society, social enterprise and innovation. Key themes are trade, defence, and knowledge and society, and P2P contributes to all these.