Organised jointly by Volonteurope and the European Civic Forum The European Citizenship Awards 2017 promote and give visibility to outstanding and inspiring initiatives and individuals who have put European democratic citizenship into practice, and in so doing have had a positive impact on their communities. This year, the European Citizenship Awards aimed at rewarding initiatives which contribute to combating the root causes of extremism.
The candidates were selected through an international jury and public online voting – which garnered over 1,300 votes in just a few days – and we can now announce the Laureates for 2017:
MEDIA INITIATIVE OF THE YEAR
We Are Here Academy. In 2012, a group of refugees in limbo organised themselves into a collective to highlight the problems they have encountered as refugees in the Netherlands. Under the banner of We Are Here they campaigned for political recognition and to underline the reality and impact of current Dutch asylum policies, bringing refugee issues to the forefront of the political agenda. One of their flagship programmes is the Media Academy, which focuses on educating the We Are Here community in journalism so that they feel empowered to engage in public discourse about the refugee and migrant crisis.
SOCIAL ENTERPRISE OF THE YEAR
Taste of Home started as a culinary cultural research project of the Centre for Peace Studies in Croatia. Its aim was to celebrate the culture, customs and countries of origin of refugees and migrants in Croatia through the medium of cooking. Refugees, migrants and Croatians came together to share culinary skills and life stories, and it served as an opportunity for migrants and refugees to explore their memories of home through the smells and tastes of their cuisines. Within only a few years, Taste of Home has graduated from being a cultural research project to being established as a social cooperative.
VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR
Said Jasser is a young Syrian refugee, born in Aleppo. He escaped from civil war and Daesh via the so called Balkan Route, arriving in Germany in November 2015. Since the day of his arrival, he dedicated himself to studying German, using Internet-based learning tools and books from public libraries. Thanks to his dedication he was soon able to communicate fluently in German, which has subsequently allowed him to support other refugees from Arabic speaking countries. In August 2016 he asked to join the community interpreting service, with the participation of volunteers originating from about 35 countries.
ACTIVE CITIZENS INITIATIVE OF THE YEAR
Polish Women’s Strike: An independent social movement of angry women (as they called themselves) and supportive men, that began in Poland. Polish Women’s Strike initiated and organised the nationwide protest against the Polish government’s plans for a total ban on abortion on 3 October 2016. Theirs was the first major mass mobilisation of Polish women in defence of their rights, and more than 100,000 women and men took part in the strike, with participation spread across Poland’s major cities and towns.
Besides these outstanding Laureates, the jury chose to reward two other candidates: Makers for Change, a France-based organisation, for their work as a social enterprise, as well as Wynne Edwards who was nominated for the Volunteer of the Year and who is one of the pillars of the Coalition of UK Citizens’ groups in the EU.
After London last year, this year’s Awards ceremony will take place in Strasbourg on 5 November 2017, ahead of the World Forum for Democracy. The World Forum for Democracy is an event organised by the city of Strasbourg and the Council of Europe, which brings over 700 participants from all over the world.
Winners and jury awards will also be invited to take part in various events and meetings linked to civic space and democracy across Europe, such as the Civil Society Days in Brussels (26-27 June 2017).
The organisers would again like to thank all the nominees and applicants for this year’s edition. There were nominees with really brilliant and transformative ideas, and inspiring initiatives and volunteers bringing very positive narratives to combating extremism in Europe.