From the 6-8th April, Ewan and I were in Utrecht to attend the BICC meeting (Benelux, Islands, Central Cooperation) which held the theme of refugees.
Arriving in Utrecht, we were ready to meet the other National Youth Councils and begin the sessions. Led expertly by Coco Peet and Max van de Braggen, with help from other members of the NYC it was a professional and well thought out sessions that were treated with incredible respect and dignity.
What we found particularly moving were the talks given by refugees that have moved to Amsterdam, who gave insight into their experiences of moving from a country that wasn’t safe to their new country. Not assimilation but integration. From the discussions arose an interesting point, that whilst the children of refugee families are in school and can access help with language and mental health, the parents are often left forgotten at home with little connection to the outside world. Perhaps access to resources such as language can be looked at, in order to allow adult refugees to learn and feel a greater sense of stability.
We also met to discuss and analyse the result of our National dialogue sessions, where each NYC discussed with migrants of their own country the challenges and experiences they face in everyday life. We received feedback on the answers we gave and discussed the outcomes of the dialogue, and how opinions of migration differed in each country. The provision of help and the attitudes towards refugees differed from country to country and it was beneficial to hear these stories from the perspective of a migrant.
We also worked on two policy papers, giving our opinions to then be turned into amendments for consideration at the Council of Members meeting. The papers were 2020 MFF and a paper on Sustainable Development. Both meetings resulted in diverse and thorough questions to emerge, which will be put forward as amendments later this month.
Finally, we looked at the methods we could use in our own countries to increase help given to migrants and refugees. We split the challenges that most commonly arose from the national dialogue sessions into different categories and then each NYC contributed to the lists with their country’s policy in mind. This allows us to take actionable steps to improve our services for migrants and refugees in our respective countries.
This was an incredibly moving and insightful meeting, that I have taken many new ideas and opinions from. Hopefully, moving forward, we can make Britain a more welcoming and open place for all.
UKYA for the European Youth Forum