This is Lavern from The Netherlands!

Hi! My name is Lavern and I am from the Netherlands. Both of my parents were born and raised in Surinam (a not so small country in South-America, between Guyana and French Guyana and above Brazil), I was born and raised in Amsterdam and have been living in Rotterdam now for about 4 years! At the moment I am still a student, ready to graduate. I study Culturele Maatschappelijke Vorming. It is social work, but in the Netherlands you choose different sides of social work. My education focusses on non-formal education.

Other than being “just a student”, I also started volunteering for a young LGBT-organization in Rotterdam a few years ago. It’s called The Hang-Out 010 and it is located in Rotterdam. I was involved In organizing a lot of activities and because of my study, I wanted to know more about the organization itself. A while ago I was asked to be on the board, so now I am also a board member!
Within this organization I learned a lot about this community, and I keep on learning new this almost every day. Right now I am working on a photo exhibition about labeling and it opens at Rotterdam Pride this year!

Lavern photo

I know Can Do from RADAR. I was an intern there for a year and my internship just ended in July. I choose RADAR because of the work they do and I wanted to help in fight discrimination and racism. Throughout this year we did a lot of activities to empower people. I love making people aware of things and to let them think about their own actions and how they are part of a system.

Empowerment for me is making somebody feel good about themselves. I believe that you have to empower yourself first, before you can empower somebody else. Being able to achieve things as an individual is great, but to empower more people and to achieve things as a group is even greater.
It is also about being a rebel. Taking back power, to change the normative world, to change the structures, to change to systems, to think outside of your own comfort zone, to be done with labels, to just live your life the way you want without all these labels we constructed.

This is Shirley from The Netherlands!

I am Shirley Cicilson. I’m from the Netherlands, I am an entrepreneur. My hobbies are: write poet, like to read, like to take a walk nearby the water or in the park and watching sports.

I like to bound and empower people, because only then you can build bridges. My philosophy is, that ‘I do not know not to exist’.

My expectations about the Can? Do! Empowerment project are meeting, share, pooling power, with others so that we can achieve our ambitions

Self-knowledge gives your understanding of who you are, what you can do and how to achieve your dreams and ambitions.

Empowerment is crucial for personal branding of each individual, so it helps to develop a positive mind-set and self-image.

While working in and with empowerment you have to take people seriously.

No matter what!

 photo shirley

Blogger of the last day!

Friday 9th September, 2016

By Iman and Laura 

Today, as the last day of the meeting, we could notice some low energy within the group, but nothing that a good energizer couldn’t save!

Our task today, as a group, was about wrapping up activities that we had already started yesterday, finalizing our writing contributions for the book and manual. Coordinators of both intellectual outputs gave a glimpse of what the final product will be looking like, and that was quite helpful so participants could have an overview of how their contributions will be treated and included within the project results!

Because it’s the last day, we had the opportunity to have on overview of what we have been sharing and discussing during the week. That was the Spanish team that took us through the CanDo Journey, giving us the opportunity of rescuing ideas, questions and feelings, not only from this meeting, but also from the two previous meetings held in Spain and Germany… It was amazing to realize how much we had already shared all together… We mentioned as well all participants that had participated in all CanDo meetings and we had their names written amongst ours…


As part of the CanDo Journey, we were given names of other participants and we were asked to write something that reminds us of the person who’s name we had on the card. Then we shared it out loud and that was really funny!!!

From the coordination team, we had the opportunity to tell about our experience during this week and to mention in a written way “what went well” and “what could have been better”. Evaluations where handed to Mike that promised to type them up and forward it to the group!

We also acknowledged about the Europass Certificates that each of the participants will receive for each LTTA meeting that had attended.

Dinner today will be a bit earlier in order to have a bit more time to party at the Brighton Pier to close all together this fantastic week that much have been shared in… Participants shared their feelings about being thankful of having participated in the CanDo experience, not only from the professional perspective but from the personal perspective as well.

Blogger of the fourth day Brighton

Thursday 8th September, 2016

By Juan 

It is the day fourth and you could tell energy went a little down at the beginning of the day. There were few people coming down to have breakfast all together. But the day would improve throughout the activities and so it would do our own group energy.


The facilitators of the day were Aurelia and Laura, from the Spanish team. So after breakfast we did an energizer in charge of Ercan. It was so great because it started to cheer everybody up. After that, the British team had an activity prepared about Empowerment in Practise.

blogjuan2The day before we had had the community workers, Social and Health Care in Brighton and Hove giving presentations, so it was a nice way of continuing the reflective work on that. The activity was to sculpt with play-doh what we thought a social change agent was; also the sculpture was about what was necessary to change in order to get system changes or how we saw the social work we did back home. After that we reflect and share our thoughts and interpretations about our own sculptures.


After that, we took a break and restart activities with the coordination of the Dutch team. Shirley prepared an activity related to personal development and how it was related to our activity as social change agents. It consisted in think about who our hero and anti-hero was, why and what kind of characteristics we saw in them that we thought we did not posses. There also was some subgroups working and after reflect about a list of adjectives we shared it to the group. It was quite an interesting activity this one! 😀

Afterwards it came the lunchtime and we really enjoyed our buffet and one-Michelin-star chef who prepared some of his usual delightful meals:


After the break we had another activity from the Dutch team, this time related to Image of the Social Change Agent and performance emotion theatre. So we, as a group, decided to go to the forests, dialogue with a partner about how could we do in our own countries to be more effective as Social Change Agents.

blogjuan4And we ended up in a green terrace to develope our expressive skills and reflect about the different emotions and how we look at ourselves as Social Change Agents and workers. I think it was a really good activity to take back to our daily professional routine and practise it with the group we work with. Finally we also made a group sculpture representing what we see ourselves as Social Change Agents in five years and a wonderful model came up. I think one of the trees of the park is a good metaphor of how the group enriched each of the participants and also grew itself.

At the end of the day we returned to the conference room in order to keep working on our Intellectual Outputs, the Book and the Manual. I think we poured some of the thoughts, conclusions of dialogues, and rich experiences of the day on them.

Blogger of the third day Brighton

A trip through Brighton

By Lavern

Wednesday already, our third day. Today was a busy morning, because we had an afternoon fieldtrip. I will tell you more about that later.

As every day we started off with breakfast. I think you already saw it in the other blogposts, but the food is soooooo good here. Today breakfast was even better than the other days, because we had cheese! Small detail about me, I love cheese! Who am I kidding, I just love food in general 😊

After that we started at 9 am with the program. Today we had guests coming over. They all gave us a presentation about their organization and the work they do in Brighton and Hove.
The first was Jane Lodge, the head of engagement from NHS Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group.

After her talk, the group got split up in two. We got presentations from Brighton and Hove City Council, Friends, Families and Travelers and Amaze/Parents Carers Council.

B&H City Council work with residents and communities by informing, consulting, involving, collaborating and empowering them.

Friends, Families and Travelers work with travelers and gypsies. Gypsies are the most discriminated group. In the UK, Irish travelers got their ethnic status since 2000. I learned a lot of new information, this is a group I don’t know a lot about. Fun fact: did you know the English Roma gypsies originally are from India? I had no idea! I thought they were from a whole different area, but India has never crossed my mind.

Amaze provides information, advice and support to parents and carers of children and young people with additional and special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). They also support young people with SEND up to age 25.

Parent Carers Council is a parent-led forum by Amaze. It aims to help parents get more directly involved in shaping services for disabled children.

After getting to know some organizations from Brighton and Hove, it was time for us to go out and visit community groups related to the subjects we are focusing on within the Can? DO! project. Everybody went their separate way, to experience different things.

We all took the bus to the city center. As you could read in my introduction piece, I do a lot of work for the LGBT community in Rotterdam, so my goal was to visit some local LGBT organizations. Sarina and myself went to Mind Out, an organization that focusses on the mental health of LGB&T. We had a chat about the work they do and about pride. I asked them if they had a pride, and they told me that Brighton has one of the biggest prides. I had no idea!

In the meantime some others of the group where heading to the local radio station, Radio Free Brighton, to give some interviews. They were very enthusiastic about it.

Another group started out with the Brighton Black History Trail. They eventually ended up talking with locals about discrimination, in and exclusion and empowerment in Brighton. Those were meaningful conversations in a real exiting everyday ambiance.


Side note: During the break Sarina and I just explored another cultural part of the city. I love street art, so when we heard there was an original Banksy in Brighton, we knew we had to visit it. It was amazing!

Not only was there an original Banksy, there was a whole mural from artists that have passed away.

After seeing this amazing street art, We also saw a Dunkin’ Donuts, ran across the street to get some donuts. Yes, we really do love food, healthy and unhealthy, that we would run across a busy street. When we entered the shop, there was so much we could choose from.

We started to do our happy food dance and the guy behind the counter look at us like we were crazy. We were two little children being as happy as going to Disney land (keep in mind that in The Netherlands don’t have Dunkin’ Donuts, maybe that’s why we were so happy?!).

blogger lavern 3

The whole group came back together on the beach at the end of the day, to exchange experiences of the day. The weather was amazing. On the way back to the campus there were some conversations with local people of Brighton. This was a perfect day, exploring the city, exploring the community of Brighton and feel the Can? Do! Energy trough daily life.

Hope to see you again Brighton!


Blogger of the second day

6th September 2016

By Niko

Institutional Change and the Social Change Agent

How does one become a Change Agent?

On the base of the theory ProCC we discovered theoretical bases of our social system. We discussed in which way individuals that sometimes feel lonely and lost can have big impact on a systemic level.

 How so?

Through a visual looping we visualized the dynamical and the irreducible relationship amongs the individual level and the institutional level linked by the groupal level


A Metaphor: Imagine a director wanting to make movie that moves people with important messages and theories… He needs actors, cameras, a good script and among other things a producer to pay for everything. This Producer will usually have huge influence on the project and determine central decisions.

The producer wants to make money and will adapt the script to consumers needs, or even create needs (in order to sale his products and make money) within the movie. So he determines content and outcome of the project in a central way.

In a way we can see the producer as the social system.

In order to deepen our understanding of a social system as such we created a participants living sculpture.


After a short break we entered the practical field of our fights against discrimination. We collected personal stories which we experienced a victims, as perpetrators, as witnesses and courageous actors in situations of discrimination. Those experiences were exchanged in small groups.

Specific experiences concerning discrimination and counterstrategies were put on paper for the project book. Our english hosts gave a perfect briefing for the next day program. Social and health care in Brighton & Hove that will do presentations of which we will report in the next blog.

A central question of those forecoming days: How can we address the needs of all parts of society and make everyones voice heard and taken into account?

Blogger of the first day

Monday 5th of September 2016

By Sidris

This morning we woke up in vain for our first day of what looks to become an inspiring and exciting week.

Breakfast was wonderful. It seemed that all participants were very happy with the variety of choices. There was something for everybody.

We found ourselves in safe hands of Helga and Mioara as our facilitators of the day. Our host in Brighton Mike Holgate, from Community Works gave us a short presentation were he told us all the ins and outs about the venue.

Ercan woke us up with Mr. And Mrs. Hit! It was a great way to gain energy and becoming really awake. Start the day with laughter and joy.

Niko took the stand and made us think about important ideas to set our ground rules. It resulted in a good discussion. Assumptions was the main subject of the discussions. We all have them. It is important to be aware of your own assumptions.


After setting ground rules Iman presented the birth and background of the whole project. It was nice, specially for the new participants.

Sally, the executive director of Community Works gave us a clear view on what her organisation does and how things are in Brighton.

So, after a morning of listening, talking and sitting a lot we were served a lunch which was awesome! The foodies got a real treat.

After lunch we continued with Aurelia for the logistics. So the first Blogger of the day is me, don’t know how that happened!

Then it was over with sitting down. Chairs needed to be put aside. I introduced the group to the Colombian Hypnoses. An exercise where focus, concentration, to lead and follow are the keys.

We also tried an exercise to get the group in sync. Well that didn’t work out as planned but the outcome was as important as anything else. It actually did contributed to a group feeling.

To close the session with something light, we did the Zip Zap Boink exercise. A lot of laughters and fun, specially because the exercise is known by many but all had some slightly different accents. We threw them all in….

Break….have you ever had an afternoon break where you got served….strawberries dipped in chocolate? ….We did!


Laura made us open up our own capacities by teaching us to unblock our minds, being more flexible by believing in it.

After that we read the story about ‘the Frozen Pizza’ and discussed it first in small groups. Surprisingly, trough the questions ‘assumptions’ came up again. Also in the reflected held plenary. It took us to a very interesting discussion and conversation.

Looking back at the day it seems that the subject ‘assumptions’ was the key all trough the whole day.

I think today gave us all something to think about and reflect over in our minds.

Overall a good start…an nice invitation to tomorrow… can’t wait to experience…




This is Anna from The Netherlands!

Hello everybody,
my name is Anna and I’ve lived in Rotterdam for the last whole year and worked as volunteer for the antidisciminationbureau RADAR. I did this as voluntary service-year which is over since the end of august (so like this week) and I’m really happy it is not completely over yet but I’m able to join the RADAR delegation at the training of Can? Do!
I was born 19 years ago in the beautiful German city Bremen and have lived there until I moved to Rotterdam one year ago and I will be living there again as my year in Rotterdam has ended. I’m about to start studying Political Sciences and Communication and Media at the university there and hope to carry on some things I’ve got to know and learned about while working for RADAR next to this.
I am a convinced feminist and since a few years try to actively engage in political struggles to work on a society which includes and appreciates everybody the way he*she is and a political system that supports the road towards this society.
I’m really curious to get to know you all and to get to know the project a bit better as I’ve until now only heard about it from others and not experienced the aims and methods of Can?Do! myself. I’m also curious to get to know what I can contribute myself as I don’t have decades of experience with training or so but I´m sure another perspective and my points of view will be an interesting addition in some way. I’m sure it will be very interesting to hear from different methods and also different struggles concerning the topic of empowerment from different countries and organisations ad I hope to gain quite some inspiration for further thinking and activities!
Anna Fischer (RADAR)
To me empowerment has a lot to do with structures of society and the ways to break them up. Unfortunately society and the political system tend to favour those who have saved their privileges since centuries and there are stereotypes, clichés, traditions and sometimes even laws that help to keep this status quo. Empowerment means to me to stand up to this normality, accept youself and demand others to do the same (accept you the way you are) and to stop hiding. This can happen at a very small scale as sharing a part of onself, an experience or an opinion with people which one would usually try to hide in one’s class/at work but could also mean to organise with others and be as loud and strong as you can be to reach as many people as possible.
I think it is really important to support people at empowerment because it is not ’normal’ to stand up for oneself and to create a world where it is, there still needs some work to be done and doing it together makes us stronger and more able to exchange the different expercience and enrich us mutually. One thing that for me is important while working on this topic is not only to focus on individuals doing their thing for themselves but see the social background of problems and possibilities to connect and unite in the struggle for improvements.

This is Juan from Spain!

Hi there!

This is Juan de la Mata from Madrid and I am 27 years old. Although I live in the capital nowadays, during my childhood I lived in different cities around Spain like León, Salamanca, Avila and Jaén. I studied Philosophy and Psychology, one of the years in Antwerp, Belgium, as part of the Erasmus program. At present I combine work and college, working as a waiter in different hotels in the city. I like good O.V. cinema, literature, original theatre and singer-songwriter music.

I am also into tai chi and meditation as I practiced it for a couple of years. I think it is important to relax and chill out in these hurried times we live in. So, what a better way of doing it than clearing your mind to the rhythm of something like this? :

Now, it is my professional training that brings me to Brighton. I would like to become a humanist therapist and the community work is part of the process. That is why I am taking the master on ProCC methodology in Centro Marie Langer. This education will help me to work with groups, helping people achieve autonomy and social prominence. From my own moving experiences I learnt there is a need to fight discrimination. Empowerment is a good way to do it, it fosters people to get involved in community activities and raise their social prominence. At the same time empowerment let erase discriminative barriers in the long term, though as Einstein once said: <<it’s more difficult to disintegrate a prejudice than an atom>>. Besides, I believe the former objectives play a role in what it is called ‘empowerment’. To my mind, empowerment means making people aware of their actual power to change their lives. And this            applies not only to the individual field but also to the socio-communitarian one. So I think empowerment is also relevant in the public health sphere.

So, my main expectation for the meeting in Brighton is learning, as a trainee psychologist, new group methodologies to work with. In the future, I would like to apply them in my professional activities; either with groups, families or individuals.

Last but no least I am sure you will all enrich me with your professional and personal knowledge; I heard some of you have been working for 20 years in the social field so I am looking forward to meet you! 😀

Spain 2011, image from 15-M, social movement that meant a change in the socio-political panorama. Thousands of people gathered around and camped in La Puerta del Sol for days demanding transparency in politics and legal process for corrupt politicians. As a consequence the socialist government of that time fell down and elections were called.