Transnational seminar #2 – Legality and democracy [Notes + photos]

On February 4th-5th 2022 Associazione Cuore che Vede organized the second transnational seminar of the Y.civic project at the Ecomuseo Mare Memoria Viva about “Legality & Democracy”. This project, co-funded by the Europe for Citizens programme of the European Union, brang together 128 people from 4 different countries: Belgium, France, Italy, and Poland.
Notes about the seminar are available.

Solidarity action in Belgium [Photos]

On 17 January 2022, young Belgian citizens went to Verviers (in Belgium) as part of a day of solidarity in response to the bad weather in July 2021. 6 months later, the situation is still difficult for many of the victims.

In collaboration with the Red Cross of Belgium, Bonnevie and ESOPE, two Socio-professional Integration Centres affiliated to UNESSA, brought together nearly thirty trainees and trainers. The aim of the day was to raise awareness, exchange ideas and provide assistance to the victims. The participants witnessed the countless material damages. This day, rich in meaning, had an intense programme.

The day started at the ESOPE training centre. The programme included a presentation of ESOPE, Bonnevie, UNESSA, the Y.civic project and the day. Then, the group went to the Red Cross “Flood Response” Unit in Saint Remacle, in the heart of the most affected area. The young people were able to talk directly to the people in charge. The role of the State, citizen and institutional solidarity as well as political support were discussed at length. In the afternoon, several activities were proposed: cleaning and clearing the banks of the Vesdre river, door-to-door: listening, supporting and guiding the inhabitants affected by the floods and helping them at home.

The young people particularly appreciated this day. Their willingness to act on the field made it possible to organise this solidarity action. They say: “It was a day of awareness of the climate reality in which we live and act every day directly on our home, our magnificent mother earth. Moreover, it was very strong in terms of multiple emotions, both in terms of listening and discovery, openness and human energy, and mutual sharing in every sense. Even if it was only a fraction of an hour… It was real. It was concrete. We moved forward and contributed (in our own way) to a better world! (Do you know the legend of the hummingbird?). Jonathan H. ESOPE 2022.

The trainees of the Bonnevie training center also liked this day: “We met new people. We had a nice day of solidarity and it was nice.” Ibrahim explains. “In fact the day of January 17 2022 was superb. In my opinion, I liked the welcome of the Red Cross in Verviers. And I was able to see the damage caused by the floods of July 2021. In addition, I noticed that there is a lot in the field of building (plumbing, ceiling lighting …). Thank you very much for organizing this unforgettable day.” Gloria adds. “I liked the visit to Verviers. I realized the extent of the damage on the ground after the floods. I was able to lend my support and cheer up to the inhabitants. And congratulations for the support provided by the Red Cross.” Ilyass concludes.


Citizen Engagement in Response to the Floods of July 2021 in Belgium

The Y.civic project of the “Europe for Citizens” programme has enabled the organisation of a day of solidarity action on 17 January. In collaboration with the Red Cross, Bonnevie and ESOPE, two socio-professional integration centers affiliated to UNESSA, will bring together nearly thirty trainees to help the victims of the bad weather that occurred in July 2021. Follow our young citizens on this day on Facebook and Instagram [Y.civic].

Photo by Son Tung Tran from

What happened during July 2021 in Belgium?

During the month of July 2021, catastrophic and deadly bad weather hit Belgium. Floods hit part of Wallonia, the German-speaking Community and Flanders. The material damage was considerable and many people died or went missing. Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said that “the floods could be the most catastrophic our country has ever experienced.”[1]

Naturally, in the face of this disaster, a surge of local, national and European solidarity has manifested itself. First of all among the inhabitants, there was a lot of mutual aid and the hope of winning this battle against water[2]. The inhabitants directly put their hands in the dough in order to save what could be saved. Belgians mobilized, Facebook groups were created and emergency centers took care of “gathering the material deposited by some spared inhabitants”[3]. At the national level, emergency financial support plans have been released by the Walloon[4] and federal[5] governments.

EU aid: calling for European solidarity

At the European level, in July, Minister Annelies Verlinden first appealed to the European Union’s Civil Protection Mechanism. This mechanism makes it possible “to call on other Member States for specific support needs, in particular in terms of equipment and personnel. It also makes it possible to mobilise the European Civil Protection Support Team, through which Belgium can obtain additional equipment and rescue workers”[6]. Germany, France, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the Netherlands were present. European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen paid tribute to the victims and pledged help from the EU. In October 2021, the government appealed to the European Union Solidarity Fund to release a maximum amount of €185 million[7]. The European Commission’s response is expected to arrive at the beginning of 2022.

Red Cross intervention and citizen mobilization

In addition to institutional support, Belgian civil society has organized itself and shown a lot of solidarity. The Belgian Red Cross has collected more than €40 million in donations[8] to help those affected. The NGO has established an action plan between October 2021 and April 2022. Its actions are varied: food aid, psychosocial support, various material aids as well as accommodation centers[9]. It is therefore in the continuity of a European project on citizen engagement that the young people of the PSI centres have decided to act and take part in the citizen solidarity in place in Verviers.

Project and Action Y.civic

Y.Civic aims to contribute to an understanding of the EU, its history and diversity and to encourage the active citizenship of young people. This project  is developed within the framework of the “Europe for Citizens” Programme of the European Union. Started in 2020, it will end at the end of 2022. Throughout the project, 7 seminars and numerous activities will be organised across Europe.

As part of the first Y.civic transnational seminar on climate and the environment, young people expressed their desire to take action. After many discussions, a solidarity action towards the victims of the bad weather that occurred in the summer of 2021 was organized. A group of young trainees from the Bonnevie Training Centre in Brussels will meet with trainees from the ESOPE Training Centre to lend a hand to the Red Cross in Verviers, in the province of Liège. On January 17, these young citizens will bring support and comfort to the victims of the City of Verviers.

Transnational seminar #2 – legality and democracy

The next thematic seminar will take place on the 4th and 5th february in Palermo, Sicily. It’s organized by the Italian partner “Cuore che vede“. The theme of the day will be “Legality and democracy”. The seminar will start at 9AM and finish at 4:30PM on the first day. On the 5th of february it will start at 9AM and end at 12PM. We look forward to seeing you there!

First day program
Second day program

Transnational seminar – Climate and environment [Documents + Photos]

On October 15 UNESSA organized the first transnational seminar of the Y.civic project in Bonnevie training center about “Climate and environment”. This project, co-funded by the Europe for Citizens programme of the European Union, brang together 113 persons from 7 different countries : Belgium, France, Italy, Poland, Germany, Latvia and Romania.


Opening seminar [Documents + Photos]

On October 14, UNESSA organized the Y.civic opening seminar at the Bonnevie Training Center. This project, co-funded by the Europe for Citizens programme of the European Union, brang together 75 persons from 7 differents countries : Belgium, France, Italy, Poland, Germany, Latvia and Romania.