Léargas, Ireland’s national agency for the European Union’s Erasmus+ programme, is calling on individuals and organisations in Donegal to submit project proposals for the new 2021 programme.
Funding is available to support projects for those in, vocational, school or adult education, youth or sports groups, with the first application deadlines due to close in May.
With a renewed focus on social inclusion, the green and digital transitions, and promoting young people’s participation in democratic life, the newly opened Erasmus+ 2021-2027 programme will fund flexible learning and cross-country co-operation projects for over 10 million people, of all ages and backgrounds, throughout the European Union.
While travel restrictions continue to limit mobility for European exchange programmes, Léargas are encouraging organisations in Donegal to take a flexible approach in exploring opportunities for students and young people, educators and teachers, youth workers and sports coaches to connect with other participating groups across Europe.
Lorraine Gilligan, executive director of Léargas, said: “The Erasmus+ programme offers an incredible opportunity for people of all ages and backgrounds to explore Europe through exchange and peer-to-peer learning. We might think of Erasmus+ as a physical exchange – someone going to work or volunteer or study abroad, and that is a fantastic part of the programme we’re looking forward to welcoming back in the future – but it is also about cooperation and no one needs to get on a plane to make that possible.
“In the past year we’ve supported many projects to move online or reimagine how they bring people from Ireland and other European countries together. For many of us, the global pandemic has made our worlds feel very small but beyond our four walls and five-kilometre restrictions, Europe is still there and they’re going through the same thing. We have so much to learn from each other.”
Lisa Downes, a youth worker from St Andrews Youth Resource Centre in Dublin, has been working on an online Erasmus+ project called ‘While We Wait’ which connects young people in Ireland with peers in Italy, Spain and Portugal.
Ms Downes said: “This is quite a unique project as it has been initiated and led by the young people themselves – when lockdown hit, they felt forgotten – many felt that their lives had been put on hold and that their voices weren’t being heard in what is a very important time in history. They took the initiative, and with the support of Léargas, connected with peers across Europe to discuss the issues which are important to them – from the personal impact of Covid-19 to the impact it has had on climate action globally.
“While this group may not be able to take off and explore Europe, the conversations they’ve been having have helped them to examine Europe and Ireland’s place in it. They have new empathy and understanding for what life has been like for young people in places that have been hardest hit by the pandemic, or for example in Portugal, which has fared better than most European countries, the fears that exist for people living there. They’ve learned that difficult as things have been for young people in Ireland, the grass is never as green as you might imagine in other countries.
“The ‘While We Wait’ project has been a lifeline for these young people during a strange time and my hope is that it will also be a stepping stone to encourage them to get involved in further projects and initiatives in the future.”
Ms. Gilligan added: “We want to support more projects like this across Ireland, so that more people can access these opportunities. Léargas want to hear from organisations and individuals in Donegal who are interested in applying for Erasmus+ funding either by our first application deadlines on May 11 and 20, or before our later deadline in October.”
Further information about Erasmus+ is available at: https://www.leargas.ie
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