Promoting and fostering inclusion and diversity is a policy priority for the UK Government and the European Commission – and Erasmus+ is playing a key role.
Many of the projects funded by the UK National Agency for Erasmus+ aim to create and provide opportunities, across all sectors and activities, for those facing personal barriers or who have fewer opportunities.
People can be at risk of isolation because of physical, cultural, social and economic or geographical factors, sometimes a combination of more than one, and the wide range of funding opportunities offers scope to address them all.
York-based not-for-profit outfit Everything Is Possible, specialises in projects that focus on helping young people from challenging and disadvantaged backgrounds.
Co-founder and director, Clair Brown, said: “Sometimes a month after a project, or even five years after the project, we are approached by ex-participants who say to us, ‘This programme has changed my life, going on Erasmus+ this is where I was, this is where I am now and without it I would be a different person’.
“We have had people who have got jobs and cited Erasmus+ as the reason for it, we have had people who have had extreme disadvantage in their life, they have come out of prison and they’re re-engaged in education, maybe going to university, which is something they would never have dreamed of doing.”
National Star College, in Cheltenham, is a specialist residential college for learners with physical disabilities and associated learning difficulties that has been working on a sports leadership project with a German partner.
“We want to enable our learners with significant disabilities to work internationally with their peers, to develop the skills they will need to both continue and promote disability sport in their communities and to introduce new sports to them,” said international director David Finch. “Erasmus+ is helping us to achieve this and broaden our pupils’ horizons.”
Merseyside-based SAFE Regeneration’s Supporting Improved Learning Opportunities for hard to reach groups (SILO) project sought to engage those not in education, employment or training through arts projects – at the same time creating a framework for recognising the skills they gained.
"Some of them couldn’t even look you in the face when they came to sign in for their workshops, they were really socially isolated and suffering from a range of mild to moderate mental health issues,” said coordinator Jane Johnson.
Participant Samantha Cottrell added: "The project has helped me achieve all I wanted and much more. I have gained a lot of skills such as communication, team building and leadership and my confidence and self-worth have increased so much that I am looking at putting my skills into starting my own business."
To find out more about all the funded projects that are #InspiringInclusion, visit our Erasmus+ stories page.