Leeds - Durban partnership

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The partnership between Leeds and Durban was as lively as ever during 2008. School links have been boosted throughout the year and the Lions’ Den enterprise competition project has gone from strength to strength.

Celebrate South Africa
An evening of celebration of South African culture was held on Saturday 19th July 2008 at Leeds Civic Hall. The event marked the 90th birthday of Nelson Mandela, Freeman of the City of Leeds, joining world-wide events that honour the life and work of a revered world statesman. The 10th anniversary of the strong Leeds- Durban partnership was also celebrated.

Hosted by the Lord Mayor of Leeds and attended by His Worship the Mayor of Durban, the evening featured entertainment including a traditional Zulu dance group, an exhibition by a South African artist and reflections on current-day South Africa.

Breezing into 2008
As in previous years, Leeds welcomed school students from Durban at this year’s Breeze International Youth Festival. In June, Garforth Community College played host to students from Mzuvele High School, in the Kwamashu township. This was the first contact between the two schools but it is hoped it will lead to a lasting partnership in which the South African school lends an international dimension to life in Garforth and Garforth offers the Durban school a much needed added perspective which can help motivate staff and raise standards.

MEC support for school partnerships
A meeting with Ina Cronje, Minister for Education in the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government has led to much welcomed support for the Durban – Leeds school partnerships.

In a meeting with Cllr Brian Cleasby Lord Mayor of Leeds, Minister Cronje announced her personal support for the Durban – Leeds partnership and hoped that many more schools would join the programme. She has offered the support of the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education and her staff officer.

Learning from each other globally seminar
Members of Leeds City Council International Relations team went to Durban in May 2008 to deliver a seminar on the global dimension to the schools’ curriculum. Teachers and pupils from Leeds’ 19 partner schools attended the event. As part of the seminar, students from Durban schools were asked to complete an exercise about 'getting to know one another' so that the information could be shared with students at their partner schools. Their comments revealed a lot about the similarities and differences between life in South Africa and the UK.

Lions’ Den
Three new small South African enterprises were given a boost last year when UK organisations stepped in with cash prizes.

Based on the successful TV programme, Dragon’s Den, cooperation between Leeds City Council and its South African partner, Leeds and Durban have created their very own entrepreneurs' competition, Lions’ Den.

The project was devised through collaboration between the business and enterprise units of Leeds and eThekwini Councils who identified access to finance as the main problem faced by hundreds of small businesses in South Africa. The Lions’ Den award scheme aimed to cut through the bureaucracy associated with financial schemes and get small grants directly and quickly to the small and micro businesses that most need it.

Three sponsors - Corrocoat Ltd, White Young Green and the School Partnership Trust, a community partnership in Garforth,  offered 50,000 rands as prize money in a competition designed to seek out Durban's more enterprising micro businesses. This was the second year the competition was held.

In the event the winners comprised an architectural services and project management firm, a furniture manufacturer and a manufacturer of low GI foods. They were presented with their awards at a large conference for business in Durban in September.

Leeds and Durban charities collaboration plans
Two representatives of Leeds based charity St George’s Crypt visited Leeds’ African partner city of Durban last September to meet organisers of  a community project in the township of Kwamashu. The Emseni project runs a soup kitchen, school and home care support service for sufferers of AIDS and orphans in the local area. The two groups met to discuss ways in which they might share their experiences of running a charity and how they might work in collaboration in the future to the benefit of both organisations.

They also visited the Diakonia Council of churches who work against social injustice, especially with refugees and asylum seekers.

Get involved!
If you would like more information on the Durban – Leeds partnership or if you would like to get involved, please contact the international relations office using the contact details in the top right hand side of this page.

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