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ATEDAL - sharing learning, dancing and cream teas with our European partners

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Ursula Billington joins Superact and is immediately thrown in the deep end with a whole heap of European partners invading the Bristol office for the penultimate ATEDAL meeting!

Last week the Bristol Superact office hosted the European partners of our EU Lifelong Learning Partnership Grundtvig Project, ATEDAL. Working on Alternative Techniques for Engaging Disadvantaged Adult Learners, representatives from Romania, Germany, France, Turkey and Belgium came together to discuss the project, share workshop techniques and get a taste of Bristol culture.

The atmosphere was one of warmth and excitement, with a bit of chaos thrown in for good measure. It was a meeting of friends and colleagues who respect each other, sharing goals and values across cultural boundaries. There was enthusiastic discussion, heartfelt debate and a lot of laughter as delegates presented updates, hammering out the finer details of progress so far and planning for the final phase of the project.

With work well underway on the first day we enjoyed an illuminating workshop from Stu Packer, Superact’s resident Actor and Storyteller, based around his experience of life as a 94 year old deaf carehome resident at Belgium’s pioneering sTimul centre ACDC (Arts, Crafts, Dignity and Care) project as part of the http://www.creatinginclusion.eu/. We role-played grumpy bus drivers and friendly nurses, while Stu challenged us with searching questions about what care is, why we care and how we can care better. After an intense hour or two it was time for some refreshment and light relief so we treated the delegates to that most British of institutions, a cream tea, complete with proper china and more jam than you can throw a dozen scones at.


Dinner in the evening was accompanied by an introduction to Celtic music traditions in the form of a live folk trio playing jigs, reels and the occasional old whaling shanty; later the room became a dance floor for a raucous traditional Scottish ceilidh. The Europeans made a terrific attempt at right hand stars, casting off, galloping and swinging despite this being their first introduction to the mayhem of our British dance customs. It was a riotous night and we left out of breath and ready for a good sleep to refresh us for another full day of activities.


 We met bright and early the next morning outside the Cathedral, all wrapped up and ready for our graffiti tour of Bristol. Our guide regaled us with fascinating facts about Banksy and the local street art that Bristol is renowned for, showing our guests a new, ‘underground’ side to the city. Then it was to Yurt Lush for some tasty locally-sourced lunch and a warm up by the open fires; and back to the office in the afternoon for a workshop with Superact’s graffiti artist Cleo. We were encouraged to get our hands dirty, protecting ourselves in overalls and masks then parading through the building and out to the car park to the amusement of the other office residents going about their normal daily worklife. Much spraying and artistry later, we all had our own little bit of graffiti to take home. The art work was absorbing and all enjoyed the opportunity to switch off from our head-selves and focus on our creative selves. Cleo talked us through her work with vulnerable young Mums and how her workshops enhance their self-esteem and engagement. It was particularly powerful to undertake an evaluation exercise in which we all gave individual positive feedback to each other whilst Cleo highlighted that for the young people she works with this may be the first time they have ever received a compliment or constructive comment from another: no wonder her workshops often have such a profound impact on these individuals.



 Another dinner later and we bid farewell to each other over a feast of good food and wine. New friendships were made, old ones consolidated, new projects dreamed up and we meet again in Germany in June for the last blast of ATEDAL!