A life-changing experience for harehills youth in dortmund
Updated: Jul 12
CATCH in Harehills, Leeds, is an award winning youth organisation that has been engaging with adults and young people from diverse backgrounds for over 10 years.
Thanks to funding from UK-German Connection, Leeds City Council's International Relations were able to organise a visit in May 2023 to our German partner city Dortmund for a group of young people from CATCH.
This followed a visit from young Dortmunders to Leeds in July 2022 which sparked what we hope will be a lasting relationship between young people in both cities.
Here Jen Wilkins, Centre Manager for CATCH tells us about the journey and its life-changing impact.
What an amazing and memorable trip for eight young people who now have lifelong, lasting memories from this European Friendship trip to Dortmund.
Kicking off the experience with three zoom calls taking place here at CATCH to talk to their, soon to be new friends, excitement and anticipation for the trip ahead grew, talking about the itinerary, what they would be doing, planning activities and learning German words in readiness, they prepared themselves for a week away, but they couldn’t quite imagine what an impact it would have.
Meeting new people, throwing themselves into every activity and some straight out of their comfort zone, the young people immersed themselves into a 70 strong group of young people from across Europe, exchanging experiences and ideas on life and future goals.
The action packed itinerary gave everyone insight into the history of Dortmund, opportunity to talk about politics, Brexit, youth empowerment, future plans and so much more. So many learning opportunities, both educational and personal growth opportunities. With some activities allowing our young people to voice their ideas and opinions, which saw them centre stage, presenting to all groups and sometimes taking lead.
Sharing experience of youth organisations in each country, lead to conversations about further exchanges to experience and continue to share this knowledge about what works, and what they like. This has highlighted what great pride the young people have about CATCH and how they want to share their experience to help towards better futures for as many young people as possible.
From the first day of the trip, new friendships formed and they have continued. Messages have exchanged as part of a WhatsApp group, where the young people still converse with each other and talks of further exchanges have been forefront of their minds. We actually have three young people from Dortmund visiting in June, and we hope that this is the start of a continuing friendship and knowledge exchange with our Partner City.
Everyone involved has provided feedback and a common theme running throughout this, is that they never thought they would be able to go on such an incredible trip like this; it is such an amazing opportunity to meet new people and learn from each other. Many young people have said they have learnt new skills on the trip and even grown as a person, learning new things about themselves, tried new activities and experienced things they never thought they would. It is felt new opportunities will come from this for all young people involved and we really do want to be a part of any future plans to progress ideas and be part of a common, collaborative future.