Nine children from Bootle’s Brunswick Youth and Community Centre recently had a once-in-a-lifetime experience when they visited Vinje, Norway.
Between 6th-11th April the children, aged between 9-11, took part in a packed programme of activities which included learning to ski. (Vinje is in the famous Telemark region, where the World Cup sport of Telemark skiing originated.)
Our children learned so quickly and well that they were able to take part in an international cross-country ski event involving teams from England, Scotland, and Norway. The winner received a signed Liverpool FC shirt signed by Jamie Carragher, a lifelong supporter and member of Brunswick Youth and Community Centre.
As well as taking part in sports our group enjoyed educational opportunities, including touring a hydro-electric power plant, visiting local schools and a deer farm, and other cultural sessions.
Keith Lloyd, Centre Manager at the Marsh Lane-based charity community centre, organised and supervised the visit with youth worker colleagues Sarah Bowden and Amy McLoughlin.
We established the Norwegian partnership programme in April 2015. Since then we have hosted Norwegian groups of 11-14 year-olds on three occasions, and groups from “the Brunny” have visited Vinje twice. The Norwegians, led by project co-ordinator Oyvind Kili, and Mayor of Vinje Jon Rikard Kleven, have always made us very welcome and ensured that our groups enjoy fun, educational, and rewarding experiences.
The scope of this pioneering programme is growing rapidly. As well as the group visits, it has helped strengthen the ties between our two communities, both of which played a pivotal role in winning World War II. The Norwegian resistance successfully sabotaged German efforts to make an atomic bomb. The story was later made into the big-budget movie “The Heroes of Telemark”. Bootle’s strategic position meant it had a significant role both as a port and a base for the Battle of the Atlantic.
We arranged for Peter Dowd MP, Sefton’s Mayor, and our councillors to meet with Telemark’s councillors when they came over in January. We also arranged for the Jamie Carragher Sports and Learning Academy, which is based at the Brunny, to host training sessions for the Norwegian group. After joining us on a visit to Norway the Academy’s directors hope to establish a presence there, providing educational and employment opportunities for Norwegians and Britons alike.
Our team leaders use the meetings to share best practices in youth work. We have also developed plans for a student exchange scheme where children will spend over a month abroad so they can really immerse themselves in a different culture. Ultimately we hope that the programme will lead to employment opportunities in Norway for our members.
As our programme grows we hope that more children and young people from both countries will be able to benefit from these experiences. Unfortunately, life-changing experiences and opportunities like this cost money. If you would like to help our charity with its programmes please consider making a donation. Click here to donate. Thank you.