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UK project raising awareness of child refugees shortlisted for civil society prize
UK project Safe Passage is among five shortlisted projects for the Civil Society Prize 2018 organised by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) which this year focussed on recognising European identities, values and cultural heritage as a unifying force for Europe.
Safe Passage opens up safe and legal routes for refugee children enabling them to reach places they can call home. Its campaign commemorates Kindertransport, a mass rescue effort from the 1930s in which British communities took in children fleeing Nazi persecution and draws parallels with the current situation. By sharing the stories of both Kindertransport survivors and today's youngest refugees through cultural activities organised around the UK, the campaign explores issues of European identity and values in the hope of making the case for accepting more refugee children.
Since 2015, large numbers of refugee children, many unaccompanied, have been arriving in Europe only to find themselves stuck in makeshift camps or forced to risk their lives making perilous onward journeys. Safe Passage has so far helped over 1,500 children reach safety via family reunification routes.
The winner and four runner-ups will be announced at an award ceremony on Thursday 13 December during the EESC plenary session in Brussels. They will share a €50,000 (£44,568) prize.
The other four shortlisted projects are:
- Balkans Beyond Borders short film festival (Greece): an annual film festival featuring international film productions from EU member states and candidate countries from the Balkans. The aim is to use art as an empowering force for overcoming differences embedded in the region's history.
- Eco-Museum by the Italian social cooperative Aria Nuova: an initiative which helps mental health patients from residential units gain new insights into art and culture.
- SWANS (Germany): organises career and leadership seminars for female university students from immigrant families. The aim is to create a more inclusive job market in line with Europe's diverse identities and values and to empower this group of women who are often discriminated against.
- Tastes of Danube – Bread Connects – a project by Danube Networkers for Europe (Germany): organises bread-baking activities and festivals that are open to people of all ages, ethnicities and social backgrounds to raise awareness of common cultural roots in the Danube area.
Both individuals and non-profit organisations are able to compete for the EESC civil society prize, which in 2018 celebrates its tenth edition. It is awarded for "excellence in civil society initiatives" and a different theme is chosen each year, covering an important area of the EESC's work.