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Commonwealth Youth Exchange Participants convene in Malta

Updated: Feb 15

On Wednesday 11th January, I travelled with five other participants from across the UK, passionate about social action, to Tas Sliema, Malta on a residential programme as part of the Commonwealth Youth Exchange Programme (a partnership between the Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS) and Clarion Futures). Clarion Housing Group’s charitable foundation, Clarion Futures, is transforming lives and improving communities delivering one of the UK’s biggest social investment programmes. 

As part of the Commonwealth Youth Exchange Programme (CYEP) we have been working closely our counterparts in Malta (another six young leaders) to deliver projects that will positively impact our Commonwealth environment and strengthen our communities. My groups project is seeking to influence public policies and regulations around eco-friendly sustainable travel and greener housing. The CYEP is an important opportunity and journey to each of us because we are learning and displaying that working on a small, local scale can influence global and national policies.

On arrival in Malta, we met Nathan McKenzie, RCS Chief Operating Officer and Geraldine Noel, RCS Malta Branch lead who reminded us of the importance of this journey.

The programme began at the Malta Youth Council where CYEP participants and Youth Council Members, Jacob Callus (Advocacy Officer) and Yacopo Baldacchino (President) outlined the aims, work and some of the campaigns that the Council had recently been involved in.

This was followed by a meeting with representatives from the Office of the Minister, Ministry for Social and Affordable Housing. We discussed the recent expansion of private homeownership, hidden homelessness, the important term ‘roofless’ and the environmental effects of construction sites. I learnt hidden homelessness is an individual without a home, who is staying with family and friends, sofa surfing or living in unsuitable housing and may not be rough sleeping or declared homeless. A few Maltese participants shared that although we may not see homelessness in the form of rough sleeping, this does not mean people are not facing homelessness.

Before lunch in Mdina our group stopped off at the Dingli Cliffs, the highest point on the Maltese islands, offering a stunning panoramic view!

Onto the University of Malta and a lecture from Dr Rachael Scicluna on social housing and urban planning. This was particularly helpful in light of my group’s green housing project, Sows Seeds Urban. The Professor also kindly recommended Leslie Kern’s Feminist City, to further our own learning on innovative housing models, urban planning that prioritise people and modern social dynamics. This is helpful in making the accommo