Project planning. Welsh and Spanish links | Local and Global Connections Tandem Europe participants Louise Richards (Literature Wales) and Alvaro Crespo Quevedo (Solidarios para el Desarrollo) are working on a project that aims to fight loneliness in older people. Louise tells us all about her fist placement with Alvaro in Madrid. My rollercoaster Tandem Europe journey began in summer 2017, when I decided to apply for the project – the opportunity seemed especially relevant in light of Brexit! Excitement and exhaustion followed the initial hectic, but exhilarating week to find a Tandem partner from 37 other organisations in stunning Sophia, Bulgaria October 2017. We did it – Literature Wales and Solidarios Para El Desarrollo created a ‘marriage of like-minds and vision’. Mountain walk. Then came the next step – applying to develop a project and success again – A Taste for Life/Gusto por la Vida/ Blas ar fywyd was successful! Bags packed – off we went, this time only 24 of us (12 successful couples) to Santa Maria da Feira, Portugal, February 2018. The Tandem kick-off meeting brought us together for a fabulous week of creative fun, intensive planning and project management guidelines. April 2018, the true Tandem partnership began when I visited Alvaro. After a short local flight from Bristol (just over the border from Wales) direct to Madrid terminal one, I was welcomed with a big smile and warm hug – proper Tandem style. Then I was whisked off to Colegio Mayor El Faro accommodation right in the centre of the city to begin my week of adventure, exploration, job-shadowing and fun. Local hospitality. The first day flew by visiting the offices of Solidarios Para El Desarollo for a lovely reunion with Delphine, Alvaro’s colleague and to meet the rest of the fantastic team. Alfonso, CEO shared the history of Solidarios – over 30 years of volunteer management and recruitment, starting with strong university links and expanding to include the general public – projects now concentrate on: older people at risk of isolation, homeless people, prisons and people with mental health and disabilities – all to encourage community cohesion, combating social exclusion through the promotion of active citizenship. Prison visit. During the six day placement I was able to: visit several of the older people supported by Solidarios – they were so warm and welcoming and Alvaro helped with any words that might have been lost in translation shadow one of the routes taken nightly as part of the project with homeless people – we met 20 people, some alone with only a blanket to cover them, others in small groups supporting each other with makeshift shelters made of sheets and tents – heart-breaking, but also heart-warming in sharing our stories take part in a reading group in a Madrid prison – inspirational! plan our Tandem project – fun, fun, fun Skype with our lovely Tandem mentor – Joao enjoy local Spanish food and wine – so delicious! walk 23,000 steps exploring the beautiful city of Madrid with Alvaro and his brother explore the mountains of San Lorenzo De El Escorial and a delicious home cooked meal hosted by Alfonso enjoy great company – soaking up the culture of an exciting Spanish city including visiting Reina Sofia museum to see Guernica – astounding! Share human connections and stories with people from another country Placement 1 The beauty of the Tandem Europe project for me is the unique opportunity to link with like-minded creative people from across Europe to make close connections, share life stories and explore the creative potential of individuals – next stop Madrid in June followed by Greece, Alvaro and Alfonso’s visit to Wales, Milan and who knows where else – bring it on! The beauty of the Tandem Europe project for me is the unique opportunity to link with like-minded creative people from across Europe to make close connections, share life stories and explore the creative potential of individuals – next stop Madrid in June followed by Greece, Alvaro and Alfonso’s visit to Wales, Milan and who knows where else – bring it on! Literature Wales is the National (not for profit) Company for Literature we work collaboratively and bilingually (Welsh/English) across Wales, delivering and supporting artistic activity using creativity with words to improve lives. We particularly work with participants who are socially and economically marginalised such as prisoners, young carers, asylum seekers, and mental health service users. Projects include Writers on Tour funding scheme for local organisers, initiatives for young people – Bardd Plant Cymru and Young People’s Laureate, support for writers including bursaries, mentoring and courses at Tŷ Newydd Writing Centre. Solidarios para el Desarrollo is a Spanish non-profit organisation fighting social exclusion by training and mobilising social volunteers. Solidarios believes that a way of combating sever social exclusion is by creating opportunities for vulnerable people to be involved in groups and interact with other people. In this aim, using culture as a connecting tool, we propose activities for people deprived of liberty, homeless people, persons diagnosed with psychiatric diseases ad older people. Thanks to our team of 10 employees and 800 volunteers, Solidarios is currently developing projects in Madrid, Sevilla, Granada and Murcia.