Newham and Waltham Forest Woodcraft Folk


…a bond between us…

– An exploration of the rights of young people and a cultural exchange between young people from Palestine and East London


Project summary:


In 2015 a group of 20 young people and their leaders from Newham and Waltham Forest Woodcraft will take part in a cultural exchange with young people from Palestine.  The exchange will explore the rights of young people in both countries, looking at their respective experiences and how their rights are upheld and infringed.  In preparation the young people will participate in workshops to develop their understanding of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child; learn about the experience of young people within the youth justice system; and explore the impact of unemployment and poverty on young people.  They will develop a forum theatre performance that they will take to Palestine to share and further develop with the Aida Youth Theatre and Freedom Theatre in Jenin.   They will make a film of the project that will be shown to youth and community groups (and others) to raise awareness and provoke debate about the rights of young people in East London and Palestine.  A group of 10 Palestinians will make a return visit to England in the latter part of the year. The young people will be involved in the design, implementation and monitoring of the project.


The project will provide a rich cultural experience for the young people from a deprived area of London; raise awareness about children’s rights; promote mutual understanding; and develop the young people’s resilience, leadership, team working, theatre and filming skills. 


The film will allow the learning from the project to be widely disseminated and the theatre performances will promote discussion and debate: and both will increase awareness and understanding of the issues facing young people in the two countries.  Relationships and links will be developed and sustained between the young people in East London and Palestine.


Background and rationale:


The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) sets out in 54 articles and two Optional Protocols the basic human rights that children everywhere have: the right to survival; to develop to the fullest; to protection from harmful influences, abuse and exploitation; and to participate fully in family, cultural and social life. The four core principles of the Convention are non-discrimination; devotion to the best interests of the child; the right to life, survival and development; and respect for the views of the child. UNICEF point out that “Every right spelled out in the Convention is inherent to the human dignity and harmonious development of every child.” The Convention protects children’s rights by setting standards in health care; education; and legal, civil and social services. States that are party to the Convention are obliged to develop and form policies and actions in the light of the overriding principle of the best interests of the child. However in many countries in the world this aspiration is seldom achieved. East London has a diverse community where refugees have found their homes since the Huguenots in the 17th century. Palestinians represent the world’s largest refugee population and one of its longest standing. Difference and similarities growing up within these cultures and the application and effectiveness of the principles of the CRC will be explored


The CRC guarantees rights to all children regardless of age and also emphasizes the child’s evolving capacity and maturity in particular instances – such as her or his being deemed capable of forming and expressing opinions and of exercising increasing degrees of autonomy. With that in mind, young people from east London and the oPt, as the primary rights holders in these societies, are involved in this project which aims to look at their experience of how their rights are upheld and infringed. The exploration of the rights to survival, development, protection, and participation in East London and the oPt are key to the project as is enrichment through cultural exchange. The young people involved in the project will record their visits and make a film to enable their experiences to be shared within the wider community.


Activities in preparation


  • Workshops on understanding the CRC and meaning of children’s rights
  • Learning about experience of young people within the Youth Justice System of the UK and oPt
  • History of the oPt
  • Orientation including meeting young Palestinians  living in London
  • Develop forum theatre performance, project with Aida Youth Theatre and Freedom theatre in Jenin
  • Develop film making skills
  • Access to education and youth related facilities and services in east London and the oPt
  • Impact of unemployment and poverty on young people in east London and the oPt


In East Jerusalem and the oPt summer 2015


  • Visit Beit Ummar or Al’Arrub refuge camps to meet children and their parents
  • Guided 2 day hike from Nazarareth to Bethlehem with young Palestinian group, visiting villages en route, seeing the countryside
  • Briefing by Military Court Watch on the detention of young Palestinians, UNICEF and YMCA
  • Meet children at the Friends School Ramallah and students at Nablus University
  • Forum theatre production with the youth theatres at Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem and Freedom Theatre in Jenin
  • Meet young people in the IYF
  • Visit Nablus community projects and heritage sites and Hebron to witness the impact of segregation on the settler and Palestinian communities.
  • Tour of East Jerusalem old town and visit Tel Aviv


Exchange visit December 2015


  • A group of 10 Palestinians to visit east London hosted by the young people who visited East Jerusalem and the oPt in the summer
  • Perform the forum theatre developed by the young people
  • Share experiences with young people in east London


The Legacy


  • The film of the project is widely disseminated and awareness of the issues is increased
  • Links between the young people of East London and the oPT are firmly established and maintained
  • On going performances within the UK raise awareness and promote debate
  • A Template for a model of inter-cultural project working on specific themes and issues is made available to other organisations and groups
  • Young people develop resilience, leadership, team-working, film and theatre skills
  • Young people develop their understanding of the issues affecting their peers in both countries

Next Activity:

Film-making workshop led by Denise from Mouth That Roars on Sunday 18 May from 11am to 3pm.  During the workshop we will create a treatment for the film (or films), learn documentary film-making skills and do some filming.