I’ve long been motivated by a collaborative outlook -- that it’s better together -- since capturing a saying from when I went to school that went like this:
“Let us do nothing apart which can be better accomplished together.”
Whilst this can sound a little like a headline from the latest political campaigning, it is more than an aspirational phrase. It really is better together, not easier -- better!
For three years now, Love146 Europe have been working in a highly collaborative manner with other organisations across the UK and Europe to see a more sustained impact happen on issues of Abolition. It is perhaps reflected most in the work we have been doing in Greece since a road trip in January of 2010 where we first met projects working on victim identification and prevention there. Sometimes it can feel painfully slow to invest in relationships as a foundation for working together but the marrying of friendship to shared objectives is, in my view, the glue of collaboration.
Greece is not just a country in economic meltdown -- it is quickly moving towards a humanitarian crisis with 50% youth unemployment, a growing number of soup kitchens, 2,000 homeless in Athens and a growing risk of violence to its vast migrant community.
As with all humanitarian crisis, those who suffer most are children.
Over the last year, we have seen a partnership form with KEAN, an NGO which has been working with young people for the last decade in Greece.
KEAN mobilises young people as community activists in environmental and humanitarian issues. We are working together to impact Greek school children and educators marrying their expertise in youth mobilization to our expertise in innovative prevention strategies.
We also gathered a team of educators with a panel of execs from the government and non-profit worlds. In looking at the problems facing exploited or abused children in Greece, the clearest cry was that there is a need for a clearly identifiable starting point for a response. Love146 Europe is committed to working in partnership with others to see that happen.
We are delighted to be assisting in international conversations in Greece this summer that will seek to see online data put in place for children as an aid to better pathways of care and as an aid to swift identification and recovery of those who go missing from care.
It has been a strong aspect of my personal narrative to say that we are committed to long-term solutions. I am increasingly finding that this cannot just involve a response to those who are already exploited, though respond to those we must. What we also need to invest in are the changes to systems that are failing children, lest we seek to graft a healthy branch onto a sick tree.
The reason for this is that it is an important aspect of what historical Abolition looks like, it seeks to serve those and impact those at the grassroots level who are caught in slavery’s grip, but it also seeks top down change at all costs to end it. The film Amazing Grace about William Wilberforce and the recent Lincoln film surely portray the need to win or find likeminded people and gather around a shared, desired outcome.
Why is a collaborative approach critical for protecting children in Greece?
I can say with conviction that there are very good people in Greece who are working hard to do the best for children and they too want to see systems that are counter productive change. They are working to do good things for children and it is delightful to be working alongside them in creating change.
So for us collaboration is more than being together, it's more than agreement, its more than something in writing. Collaboration is participating in a changing landscape and a sense of something new emerging in how collaborations happen.
Collaboration creates the bones of Abolition, around which forms the sinew, muscle and skin of our actions and hoped for change -- personal, local, national, global change.
It really is better together.