Recently, I had the tremendous fortune of traveling to and attend the Promyse staff training event in Vilnius, Lithuania.

This took place as part of a short-term staff training event put on through IARS International institute among other representative, including Diesis COOP based in Belgium, Diversity Development Group in Vilnius, ICSE & Co in Italy and finally, KMOP in London. All teams came together to discuss Promyse - a project that was founded by the European commission, with the objective to promote social entrepreneurship in the health and social care sector.

The whole journey was an unreal experience and greatly expanded my own perspective on the world, youth engagement and of the increasing importance of social enterprise. My fellow colleague, Natalia and I met at Liverpool Street Station to get the train to Stansted Airport. Upon arriving at the hotel at 1am, we retired for the night and prepared ourselves for the busy week ahead.

On our first day, we all ushered into the meeting room where we would experience our first encounter with the rest of the team and prepared for the introduction and team building, along with the social networking. Towards the evening, we had a relaxed walk around the beautiful city of Vilnius. There is a variety of Soviet architecture in the city and remarkable buildings like the Seimas Palace which is a symbol of resistance of the Lithuanian nation against Soviet occupation. The Soviet era and its architecture have left indelible traces in the city and these resonate with its residents.

On the second day, meetings and presentation began at 9am. I was the first person to kick start the session by presenting “Young Carers and Employment in the United Kingdom” and during this half an hour of  presenting I covered the current projects Natwest Skill up and Promyse and how the UK are focusing on socioeconomic development in youth through social programs, education and various empowerment projects.

Afterwards, we would observe the second session which was titled “Thematic presentation of EU situation and good practice” carried out by Diesis COOP. Along with the thematic presentation of country situation in Greece and Italy. Finally, Social entrepreneurship in Lithuania: development, current situation and future plans”. 

Throughout the week we were exposed to a variety of social enterprise businesses scattered around the city, including Senjoro and Social Taxi - an enterprise revolving around caring for elderly people. It was heart-warming experience to be exposed to the people coming together to restore justice to the system and make the community as inclusive as possible.

The people I met on the trip, I found to be most gracious and helpful and bonds that I will forever cherish. In the evenings we planned social dinners and sightseeing, one of the visits being Trakai Castle, only before we slowly realised it was the wrong stop, we quickly jumped back in the train!

In the end, I returned from Vilnius as a changed young individual trying their best at life. While there my perspective became more enriched by truly dedicated team members and with a few meaningful relationships fostered with those I had spent time with. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity I had to take part in this trip. Initiatives such as Promyse and Eurodesk UK are ever so important in promoting opportunities for young people beyond the UK.

Now more than ever, I am committed to working towards a more inclusive, global and understanding society.

Written by Justice Projects Intern Franceska Azizi