Carmen Maria Espejo

A big family - diverse and inclusive

Carmen Maria Espejo

Spain

SALTO helps Carmen’s organisation to find a common language with European partners

I am a volunteer in a small cultural organisation in Granada, Spain.

Las Niñas del Tul promotes the mobility and participation of youth and young people with fewer opportunities through European youth programmes. We promote the inclusion of young people with fewer opportunities: young people with disabilities, young people with migrant backgrounds, young families, and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds amongst others. The work is not easy, but we really believe in it and work hard, getting support from different places, not least from SALTO.

In 2018, we participated in the ‘On track – Different youth work approaches for different NEET situations’ conference which was an international event on creating better opportunities for young people in NEET situations. The conference was organised and hosted by the Turkish National Agency in cooperation with SALTO Inclusion.

SALTO Inclusion invited us to join the conference with some of the young people we work with e.g. young mothers and fathers, so that they could share their experiences.

These young parents needed to participate with their children, and they also needed support with childcare. This is not a typical situation in international conferences, and in many cases it makes the participation of such youth groups impossible. We found SALTO to be very understanding and supportive of the process, and they assisted us in covering additional childcare costs so our young people could join the event in full.

It is this kind of openness and inclusion that is most important in SALTO’s work. In our projects, we often include young people with disabilities and with limited language skills. SALTO was there for us to make sure everyone got the support they needed. I also like that despite being a large European network, SALTO works with small, local and grassroot organisations and supports them in their everyday struggles. In many ways, SALTO helps us all find a common language.

I know how important inclusion is, especially as my first SALTO project (organized and hosted in 2004 by the Spanish National Agency and the SALTO EuroMed in Córdoba) put me in a tricky situation.

The focus of this course was on Christianity, Islam and Judaism, their past and present, and the impact they have had on European cultures. When I applied to join this event, I did so only because it was to be held in three languages: Spanish, French and English. With my limited English and non-existent French, I was quite surprised to discover that the event was actually held in French and English only, as everyone there spoke both languages well except for me. I was only able to get through the event and participate actively thanks mainly to the support of other Spanish participants.

I am really grateful that SALTO Inclusion and Diversity is there to bring this message home, that diversity and inclusion are possible and important, for which we need constant work. They have the specialist knowledge and experience to help, and I am happy to see what difference it makes for the young people that we work with and of course to myself and our team.

Connection to SALTO:

Carmen Maria took part in several SALTO activities, was involved in development of the Inclusion and Diversity Strategy, and contributed to some SALTO publications.

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