Themed open space workshops part 2

Themed workshops:

Working within the concept of the Can Do Empowerment ManualActions on Empowerment ‘ and building on the asset based approach to peer support the themes for the workshops were identified as a way of responding to the needs of the participants.

These themes being:-

  1. Using grants to help you deliver your programme of activities effectively.
  2. How to get more / different people involved in your group’s activities.
  3. How to influence the way things are done in the city so as to bring about the meaningful and lasting change your group wants to see.
  4. How can we work better together? Working both with other groups and people who use our local services.
  5. How to build trusting relationships, both internally and externally, as well as communicating effectively.

Based on the concept of Appreciative Inquiry, as outlined in the Can Do Empowerment manual, which underpins the asset based approach to supporting people focusing the mind on what is working well. As such it ensures we remain strength based and solution focused avoiding getting stuck in negative sentiments. It is life affirming rather than deficit based which helps to increase the amount of energy and enthusiasm in the discussions by asking the questions.

  1. What works well?
  2. What could we be doing more of or better?

Shared Top Tips from peer support groups.

  1. How can we work better together? Working both with other groups and people who use our local services.

It was noted that communicating with public services is increasingly difficult but there are effective ways of doing this, so talk to others to find out what works well for them. It is always important to consider how your group or project is relevant to other community groups so that it can be inclusive and encourage others to engage who might not otherwise do so. It is important to generate spaces where people can share their expressive creativity standing together and collaborating within communities as an act of solidarity. There are often community workers available to facilitate such activities working to address the collective needs of the community.

There is a need to create opportunities in our communities where relationships can be nurtured with the underlying values of mutual trust and respect. There is often a tension between organisations that may be seen to be doing similar work but in fact this may be important as different groups of people may relate to them in different ways. It may not actually be duplication but a diversity of different approaches, which is important to offer. Working with different charities whose extensive caseloads may be a way of promoting interconnectedness and joining services up in a meaningful way. This is important as generally things are becoming increasingly fragmented with people finding it difficult to know how best to get involved. Whilst demand increases, people often find that they have less time to get involved and help run community activities. Therefore finding solutions to these issues of encouraging collaboration and generating opportunities for meaningful engagement are becoming ever more critical.

  1. How to build trust both internally and externally as well as communicating effectively.

 It is important to be clear who you want to establish trust with also where trust has been lost how can we re-stablish it? Positive communication, better listening (and making time for this to happen), working on building up meaningful relationships and recognising what is within your influence to change are all important considerations. Learning the lessons from the past and being clear about your purpose and then communicating this in a way that can be easily understood (use of language – keep it simple).

It is so important to be truthful and transparent in all you do, as once trust is broken it takes much more time, energy and resources to re-build it again. Recognising the small steps that are needed rather than taking on huge system change issues is a better way to start. Recognising your strengths, for instance as patients we are experts in our own medical conditions and we need to bring this patient perspective into the NHS and make sure it is recognised. Choice in itself may often be good for some members of society but we need to be mindful that it may, at the same time disadvantage others, as such it can increase inequalities and discrimination. Building up trust requires a common purpose and so Doctors and GP surgeries need to think of why patient participation groups may be of benefit to them. Clarity of purpose is important. We need to ‘Trust to be trusted’.

When we are engaging with vulnerable people we need to be able to offer;

  • Reassurance,
  • Positivity,
  • A regular commitment of time,
  • Not betraying the trust that has been given to you,
  • Being straightforward and focusing on what you really Can Do!

We need to be able to manage and mitigate the risks involved and weigh this against the cost of not taking that risk (if you don’t risk anything you risk even more!). If you say that you are going to do something then DO IT! If you can’t do something explain why or say sorry. There is always a balance of continuity versus encouraging new ideas, succession planning is important.

Making the activities fun and enjoyable, creating a comfortable space and sense of community takes time but is essential when building trust. Learning from others, cross pollination of ideas, not doing for others what they can do for themselves, this is not about us!

Some top tips identified were:-

  1. Building mutual trust alongside mutual respect is important
  2. Making the time to listen
  3. Reassurance being sincere are essential
  4. Having a clarity of purpose
  5. Using clear, honest and simple communication
  6. Giving feedback ‘you said we did’
  7. Continuously communicating.
  8. Being open not forming cliques.
  9. Consistency, welcoming new ideas and new people to the group or activity.
  10. Recognising what you can change
  11. Learning lessons from the past.
  12. Turning negatives into positives
  13. Managing risks, not avoiding risks.


IDAHOT, International Day against Homofobia and Transfobia

Wednessday May 17th 2017

On this day RADAR celebrates diversity, together with the Rotterdam LHBTI+ community with the meeting ‘Rotterdam celebrates diversity’.

The partners fort his event: IDEM Rotterdam and GSA* Natuurlijk Samen. (*Gay Straight Alliance)

The targetgroup was invited to the location Ferry Rotterdam, for a inspirational meeting. There were various festivals accros the city so it was a bit of a challange. Although we had a extended number of sign-ups we had another unexpected competitor to deal with. The weather, since the temperature rose up to over 30 degrees Celsius. In the Netherlands this kind of temperature is pretty rare.

Nevertheless we could welcome 37 guests. Some of them did not suscribed trough the form but through facebook, or were not shure if they would make it so didn’t suscribe.

The meeting starts with the guests enjoying a nice buffet.

After diner the participants gathered to the other side of the venue where the program started. The meeting was opened by a spokenword artist Donya Batta, a bicultural nongender queer. In a world where each of these terms are seen as ‘political choices’ is the art of spoken word a revelation of new truths. The thruths of nowadays. (See Donya’s performance on the Can Do Empowerment Facebook page).

After this performance the host, Sergio Belfor welcomes the guests and asked them what they where celebrating today. Unanimus they agreed celebrating diversity and a pledging for a enviroment where one could be who one wants to be.

Hereafter the host went trough the program of the evening and introduced Mrs. Susanna Khouw, who gave an introducing of the website An online community for bicultural lgbti+ young adults. A place where they find others to identify with, share experiences and advice. For her to share her personal experiences was very inspirational to all participants.

After a short break the programm went on and the Can? DO! Empowerment project was presented. The website and the other intellectual outcomes where showm. After this the participants were split up in smaller groups for the workshop ‘The coverstory’. (excercise 43. page 130 in the manual)

Participants where really talking about changing their enviroment and how to do it. It was wonderfull to see they reallt disccused, talked it over and started working on a future planning.

Then followed some more entertainment with a show of the Dutch-Greek comedian and theatremaker Soula Notos performing ‘Who are you when no one is looking?’ A humourous story about growing up in a Greek family in the Netherlands and trying to deal with other labels as well. A story about trying to fit in but at the same time trying to walk your own walk.

Last but not least the participants were thanked fort heir contributions and received a goodybag containing the manual, the inspirational book and some folders and partnergifts.



Conference: Diverscity Rotterdam

On March 21st, the International Day against Racism and Discrimination, RADAR organised the Conference ‘Diverscity Rotterdam’ in cooperation with ‘IDEM Rotterdam. The location was a theatre room made available by and at the ‘Wolfert van Borselen College’.

It was a well visited conference with inspiring workshops, and a presentation of Can DO Empowerment project, also launching Keynote speech was performed by Tofik Dibi, a former Dutch politician with Moroccan roots.

Tofik Dibi publicly came out of the closet as a homosexual in October 2015 through publication of his book, a biography . He received positive and negative comments, but he was most surprised by support from unexpected sources. “A large part of my book I have written in a shishalounge Jinn,” he explains during the Conference. “The staff and regular customers knew that I was working with a publication, but not that it went about my orientation. That I dared not to tell because I was afraid no longer to be accepted. But after the publication of my book I got a lot of support from their side. The owner of the shishalounge even organized the afterparty of my book launch!”

 Keynote: Step out of your comfort zone
It is not often (enough) that heterosexuals are standing up for Homosexuals, men for women and non-Muslims for Muslims, says Dibi. The most important message he wants to convey to the public, is that we also should stand up for people who are not like us. “That is only possible if we together step out of our comfort zones.”

Host of the day, Sergio Belfor, recapitulated why a conference as Diverscity Rotterdam is still very necessary. “Since 2016, the number of notifications of discrimination and racism is clearly increased, while the years before there was an actual decline in the notifications. Also the number of reports on discrimination because of sexual orientation increased remarkably. In 2016, there were 373 notifications on sexual orientation which is one and a half time as much as the year before. “

Sexual diversity in the classroom

Discussing sexual and gender diversity is essential in order to tackle discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. Many teachers find it difficult to talk with students about themes such as homosexuality.

For this reason, RADAR launched the project. This initiative focuses on teachers of the final classes in elementary school and teachers of the first classes of high school. On the website you find various toolkits on how to talk and get students to talk about sexual diversity in the classroom.

After the website presentation the public had a chance to try out the Diverscitymeter, a tool that has been specially developed to test knowledge and acceptance of sexual diversity in class.

The host presented the project Can DO empowerment for social change funded by Erasmus+ and in cooperation with 5 other partners throughout Europe and South Africa. The workshops offered within the conference were all developed and based on the approach of the Can Do Empowerment for social change project in which RADAR partnered.

After the break the participants in the Conference were spread over four different workshops. Within the workshops were exercises used out of the Manual of the Can Do empowerment project.

 Workshop: Sexual diversity in education
A workshop about how to tackle intolerance in the classroom. When discussing sensitive topics such as sexual diversity one stumbles often on resistance. In this workshop the participants discovered how use this resistance to reveal the needs of the target group and guide the conversation into the desired direction.

The exercise used within this workshop was called the ‘Flying Geese – Working together’. (exercise 20. P.77)

Workshop: ‘Exclusively’ Emancipate

As a professional one sometimes deals with imaging, hidden preferences and exclusion. How does one deal with this when wanting to promote emancipation. What can one do exactly? This interactive workshop provides a different view of the themes ‘emancipation’ and ‘inclusion’ approached from different angles. The exercise used within this workshop was called the ‘Three Volunteers’. (exercise 30. P.99)

 Workshop: Expel prejudices from the job

Everyone has prejudices. Are people aware of this and to what extent? And how can one ensure that these prejudices do not interfere in the profession? The exercise used within this workshop was called the ‘The labeling exercise’. (exercise 40. P.124)

Workshop: ‘Can? Do! Getting started with empowerment’

A workshop for (prospective) professionals and anyone who is committed to social change, an inclusive society, and against discrimination and exclusion. The workshop provides with practical tips, trics and inspiration, with which you can start directly in your work or enviroment.

First the participant where asked to devide in small groups where they discussed about what a Social Change Agent is. Every group had the opportunity to present their outcome.

To surprise the participants about themselves there was also an exercise performed called ‘Creative writing – List poem’. (exercise 8. P.44)

The experiences where shared within the group.

At the end of this workshop al participants got a copy of the manual and the inspirational book.

The manual and the book were also made available to all participants of the Conference. It was narrated again that these products are also to be find and downloadable online at


Experience of a participant

 I found the workshop ‘Can? Do! Getting started with empowerment ‘ very educational. Also the manual that was handed over is very educational, because now you can also do these activities yourself.  I myself have done the exercise, list poem, within my own classroom and I do have the idea that that was successful. I found the workshop itself very well: the explanation that was given was very clear, but it was also very pleasing to know that the trainers could give input and refere to the project website and blog.

It was also very nice that there was silence at the moment you spoke and no talking trough you if you shared an experience or an activity.

I thought it was a very successful workshop and would like to participate here again when another similar workshop was given.

I really like the manual and the book as a gift from the conference.  

N. Slooter

The VR Experience

Visitors of the conference also had the opportunity to a virtual reality experience. There is a video about age discrimination during a job interview, a story about young adults at football making remarks and jokes about muslims and one about a person in a wheelchair being denied acces to a nightclub. In all cases the watcher experiences the video through the eyes of the personage being discriminated against.

RADAR uses these VR* devices with short 3-dimensional video’s for education and awareness about discrimination, racism and exclusion and as a creative manner to open up a conversation about these issues.

*Virtual Reality

 Network reception

After all the activities the day closed off with a short summery of the day and thanks and appreciations towards the visitors. After the formal part all enjoyed the network reception.

Singer and songwriter Ruji ( from Rwanda gave a beautifull performance, much appreciated by the visitors and organizers.










Community Groups Network Accelerator

21st June 2017


The National Health Service has identified that discrimination and barriers to accessing public health services are a major problem in terms of the quality of health and wellbeing observed in the most marginalised and vulnerable communities nationwide. In this, the 2nd of our two multiplier events, we took the opportunity to disseminate lessons learnt from the Can Do Empowerment programme funded through the EU Erasmus Plus scheme to address these issues. Using exercises and activities that had been shared as part of the Can Do Empowerment programme and captured in the manual Actions on Empowerment “A practitioner’s guide for supporting social change” this event helped to map, connect and mobilise the assets that so often go undervalued and as such remain underutilised in communities. The focus was on creating a shared vision, setting priorities for action and providing opportunities for peer support and action learning.

Asset based empowerment works from the principle that every person has capacities, abilities and gifts. It recognises that focusing on the strengths of individuals is more likely to inspire positive change than focusing on people’s needs and deficits.

The Community Works Multiplier Event (E7) opened with a networking lunch during which time participants were supported to discover the wealth of knowledge, skills and experiences that other people have. On arrival everyone was supported to participate in the Can Do Empowerment Head, Hands and Heart exercise. Participants were encouraged to connect with each other, identifying the assets and resources that they bring with them into the room. The outputs from this session were then displayed on boards around the venue and people were encouraged to find out more about each other, what support is available, who is doing what across the city and how best to connect these assets so as maximise their use.


Workshop in cooperation with the Federal Institute for Adult Education (bifeb)

May 2017

A two days’ workshop took place in cooperation with Bundesinstituts für Erwachsenen­bildung (bifeb) / Federal Institute for Adult Education from 8. – 9. May 2017. Bifeb is part of the Ministry of education, art and culture and is dedicated to the principles of lifelong learning and equal access to education. Through engaging in different projects and hosting workshops on socio-political topics, bifeb aims to raise the awareness about the issues of discrimination, barriers to equal access and disadvantage of minority groups in adult education and in society in general. Therefore, bifeb was very interested in the cooperation with the Can Do Project in order to host a workshop on empowerment and anti-discrimination.

Two of the international partners were involved in the workshop as well, Mike Holdgate from the UK partner organisation and Sidris van Sauers from the Dutch partners engaged as facilitators in the workshop together with the Austrian coordinator Helga Moser. The team prepared the workshop together, building on their experience during the project. It was a great opportunity for them to work together, learn from each other as facilitators, make the content of the workshop relevant for an Austrian audience and enhance their skills of facilitating a workshop in a multilingual setting.

The team was very excited to share their knowledge gained from their long-lasting experience and from the Can Do project with the participants from Austria. Some of the core approaches like the asset based approach, Ubuntu, empowerment and approaches to anti-discrimination were discussed with the participants. The two days’ workshop was a mix of different learning tools: inputs through power point presentations, individual, pair and group work, discussion in plenary sessions, interactive activities, world café, etc.

The working language of the workshop was English, since two of the three facilitators spoke English. This was also made explicit in the invitation. Some of the participants at the beginning of the workshop felt nervous about using English. Everybody understood English, but expressing themselves in English, some felt not sure about. But the facilitators pointed out, that they would ensure that everybody could participate fully. In small groups, the working language was German, in plenary discussion both languages could be used and the Austrian facilitator also acted as an interpreter. Furthermore, peer group support amongst the participants also worked very well.

The process orientation and allowing to follow the needs of the participants was crucial for the success of the event, not only regarding the language issue. The diversity in the group of participants was wide, e.g. regarding prior knowledge of the topics covered, some had expert knowledge in some of the fields.

The efforts of the trainers were rewarded, it worked very well and e.g. one of the participants – who first had doubts whether she would be able to follow in English – voiced her pleasure, that besides the content, she also improved her knowledge of English. This was one of the great examples of empowerment at work in practice.

The evaluation showed, that the knowledge of participants had enhanced in all topics covered. The participants were enthusiastic about the outputs and very interested in downloading the book and manual from the website.

Physical copies of the manual and the book are also available in the library of bifeb. So besides the download option on the internet, they are also available for future users of the bifeb library.

For more information, see also the workshop documentation which can be downloaded here:

Radio show: Mike Holdgate and Helga Moser were interviewed by a journalist from the local radio “Freies Radio Salzkammergut”. The interview topics covered the project Can Do and its aims, the workshop/multiplier event at bifeb and the issues of empowerment and antidiscrimination.

At the time of uploading this text on the blog, the journalist is still editing the interview material for a radio-show which will be broadcasted on air and will also be available on the radio website

Erasmus+ anniversary celebrations at bifeb & at the workshop

Since in the week when the workshop took place, the Austrian National Agency celebrated the 30th birthday of Erasmus, the Austrian “Nationalagentur Erasmus+ Bildung” sponsored coffee for the participants during the coffee break on day 2.

See how the anniversary was celebrated at bifeb:

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Coffee break sponsored by the Austrian “Nationalagentur Erasmus+ Bildung”

“Can Do” at the EASSW conference in Paris

June 2017

In her capacity as faculty member of the FH Joanneum – University of Applied Sciences Helga Moser attended the European Association of Schools of Social Work (EASSW) conference in Paris from 27.-29. June 2017. The conference was attended by more than 1.000 participants from all over Europe; social work educators, social workers and students of social work had the opportunity to share around the theme of „Social Work Education in Europe: Challenging boundaries, supporting a sustainable future“. In key notes speakers discussed current socio-political trends and challenges for social work and social work educational institutions. In workshops and symposiums in smaller groups exchange amongst the participants was facilitated. Helga Moser together with two colleagues from Israel facilitated the symposium “Is a New Social Work Curriculum Needed?“ on 28. June. She presented her contribution “Research-led Teaching Social Work Students on migration and diversity” to 30 participants who attended their session. In the presentation, after theoretical considerations about teaching on migration and diversity, Helga Moser talked about the Can Do Project and how she her connected the project with her teaching. The participants gained an overview of the Can Do project, its aims and intellectual outputs. Furthermore, Helga Moser used one of the exercises from the manual, the “Four sides of discrimination” to work with the participants on the issue of discrimination and give an example on how to work on this issue in a class room setting with the students.

For more information on the conference see:

“Can Do” at a Conference at FH Joanneum

June 2017

On 7. June 2017 the conference “FLUCHT.ort.AT – Veranstaltungsreihe zum Thema Flucht und Migration, Schwerpunkt: Kompetenzerwerb in der Arbeit mit Flüchtlingen und MigrantInnen” ( – series of events on the topic of flight and migration, focus: acquisition of competences in the work with refugees and migrants) took place. In working with this service users, professionals and volunteers often face challenges. In the event the aim was to highlight the experiences of these people and support them in their endeavor. Empowerment is an important issue here, self-empowerment and also tools for their work to support the service users. In her presentation about the Can Do project, Helga Moser highlighted the link of the developed outputs with the topic at stake and also its connection to the presentations of the other speakers; e.g collective action as an important aspect of empowerment. After the presentations, a world café was organized to facilitate the exchange amongst the participants. In the world café one set of questions was modelled according to the Asset based approach. One exercise in the manual, the asset mapping and its distinction between the heart-hands-head encouraged the reflection about assets of the participants and this was meaningfully linked to the reflection about competences gained in their work with refugees and migrants.


“Can Do” at the EASSW workshop in Israel

February 2017

In her capacity as faculty member of the FH Joanneum – University of Applied Sciences Helga Moser, the ZEBRA project coordinator, attended a workshop organized by the European Association of Schools of Social Work (EASSW). The workshop took place in Israel from 6.-8. February 2017. In the conference challenges for the Social Work Profession at a Time of a Global Migration Crisis were discussed. In one session Helga Moser presented her contribution “Research challenges – Equity and justice matter in the field of migration / Connecting research and teaching.”

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Helga Moser during her presentation at the EASSW workshop

During her presentation Helga Moser spoke about how she connected the “Can Do” project with her teaching. Through her presentation at the workshop, she had the opportunity to introduce the 20 participants to the Can Do Project, its aims, results, etc. The participants were very interested in her approach and some asked about the details of the methods used (e.g. the “Four sides of discrimination” exercise). So an interest in the Manual and the Book was sparked.



Empowerment @ social work (Zebra, Austria)

5th May 2017

The Multiplier event on 5th May 2017 was done as part of the course „Social work in Foreign Cultures“ for Master students of Social work at FH Joanneum – University of Applied Sciences. In the Master programme working in small seminars is common. In total 8 students attended the course and the Multiplier Event.

After an introduction, the Can Do Project was presented through a power point presentation. The content of the presentation was an overview of the project, its aims, partners, activities and results. Helga Moser told the students about the outcomes of the international exchange programme and that the Multiplier Event was an opportunity to share them in the local context in Austria.

Helga Moser explained, that in the manual “Actions on Empowerment” theory and exercises on the issues discussed can be found and that in the book “Voices” personal stories can be found. She brought copies of the manual and the book and explained, that the material can also be downloaded from the Can Do Project and the ZEBRA website. There was a copy of the book available for each student. And both the manual and the book are available as a physical copy in the library of the University of Applied Sciences. So besides the download option on the website, they are also available for future students and users of the library. Furthermore, the links to the social media (blog, website, Facebook) were presented and the students were encouraged to engage in the exchange also online.

In the further course of the session, one of the exercises from the manual, the “Four quadrant method”/ The Four Sides of Discrimination” was used. This was an opportunity for the students to engage with the outcome of the project on a content level. The goal of this exercise is to get an insight into different situations of discrimination and which roles people have in these situations; the roles of perpetrator, victim, witness/bystander or helper.

First the participants individually thought about situations, in which they faced discrimination and prejudice. Then they shared in small groups and the final stage was a plenary discussion.

The exercise and the process encourages to reflect and share, how through the insights gained through the exchange, the personal perspectives of the participants might have changed and what they might have done differently in these situations.

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Individual work during the session

Texts about the learning

As an assignment, the students were asked to write a text about their experiences regarding discrimination and what they learnt from the discussion. The task was part of the regular course. And Helga Moser asked the students on a voluntary basis, who wanted to share the text with the project and make it available for publishing on the social media resources. These texts are published on the blog. As with the texts in the book “Voices” anonymity was agreed upon those who consented with their text being published.

Follow up, 2. June 2017

In the next session on 2. June 2017 we discussed about the issue of discrimination, the learning gained from the exchange in the previous session and further considerations between the two sessions. In the texts the students wrote, some of them expressed that they found it quite difficult and challenging to be witnesses of situation in which discrimination happens and were at a loss on how to react and/or intervene. Therefore, the focus in this session was to deep the sharing and developing of strategies on how to challenge discrimination in individual, face-to-face setting, for example in the public sphere in public transport, in the professional sphere, e.g. with clients who made racist comments or in the private sphere, e.g. when friends make sexist comments. This exchange was very helpful and thought provoking for participants to further develop their individual competences when facing discrimination.