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Fighting exclusion in Norway

The Egmont Foundation has supported vulnerable children and young people in Norway since 2009. Meet the Norwegian Women's Public Health Association and Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit's Foundation – two of the organisations that ensure the Egmont Foundation’s money does good

  • Photo: Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit's Foundation

    Photo: Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit's Foundation

‘I have the world’s best job!’

Cecilia Skavlan is in no doubt. From the red brick building in Oslo’s Majorstuen district, she oversees the work the Norwegian Women's Public Health Association (NKS) does for children and youth. With 41,500 members in 650 local branches, it is Norway’s oldest and largest women’s organisation.

‘We’re a big, acclaimed voluntary organisation with a good reputation and a strong network for finding the children who need our help. We’re a women’s organisation, but if you help women, you also help children,’ she says.

So NKS was an obvious choice for the Egmont Foundation when it was scouting for a Norwegian cooperation partner. The organisation already boasted a strong local network for spotting children and young people in need of extra care and attention in their everyday lives.

Funds from the Egmont Foundation help Norwegian youth 
The Egmont Foundation has supported NKS since 2014, so using the organisation’s local contacts to find children in need of longer-term help made perfect sense. About 1 in 10 Norwegian children between 0 and 18 belongs to a family living in persistent poverty, and the Egmont Foundation’s initiative comprising an annual grant of DKK 2 million over a five-year period will enable 475-500 children and young people to receive aid through NKS.

‘With A Helping Hand we focus on factors important in preventing children’s exclusion in and outside of school. The children who get help live in persistent poverty. Their situation isn’t going to change. That’s why we’re delighted with our five-year agreement with the Egmont Foundation, because it lets us create continuity. We helped a boy with his football club fees, and we can help again next year, because he’s in the same situation,’ says Cecilia Skavlan.

The aid goes primarily to leisure activities, education and equipment – imperatives for enabling children to participate on an equal footing with their friends. A helping hand should not just be a one-off gift but should be followed up with longer-term help.

A reading friend who listens and sees
Since 2017 the Egmont Foundation has also supported the NKS project En lesevenn (A Reading Friend), an initiative involving reading aloud to children in kindergartens, libraries and after-school programmes.

‘Reading aloud tremendously helps a child from a minority background on every front – language development, imagination and cultural understanding – when he or she listens to, say, a Norwegian fairy tale. The child can engage closely with an adult who can give her the time and attention she needs. Having an adult from outside who has the time simply to be there exclusively for the children is so important,’ explains Cecilia Skavlan, who also mediates contact with local reading friends.

The En lesevenn project is to be extended throughout Norway, the aim being to reach 45 local associations by the end of 2019 and to build a team of 100 weekly reading friend volunteers.

‘The money from the Egmont Foundation means we can give the local branches a sum to get started – rent premises, buy books or accessories. For example, the staff of an after-school care programme have made a reading corner with an armchair and lamps and have sewn cushions. Perhaps they can serve fruit or give the children crayons and paper so they can draw while listening to stories, or provide transport that ensures the children can join in,’ Cecilia Skavlan explains.

Young people and exclusion
Being included in and contributing to a community is also a key focus of Kronprinsparets Fond, Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit's Foundation, which was established on the occasion of the couple’s wedding in 2001. Although the royals lead a privileged life, young people and exclusion are themes about which the Norwegian Crown Prince and Princess are passionate. Instead of wedding gifts, the couple asked for contributions to a foundation, and the Norwegian government has twice contributed NOK 1 per Norwegian, or a total of about NOK 10 million, to the foundation, which supports projects that help young people.

‘Crown Princess Mette-Marit and Crown Prince Haakon share a commitment to young people, in particular those who are excluded – or in danger of being excluded – from school, work and social arenas,’ says Irene Lystrup, managing director of the foundation.

In its first decade Kronprinsparets Fond supported humanitarian causes in Norway and abroad, but since 2011 has supported long-term projects that help strengthen Norwegian youth, focusing on the fight against exclusion. The royal couple are highly committed to the projects supported by their foundation, attending board meetings and often visiting the projects to meet the youngsters and get a sense of how each individual is getting on.

Although Norway enjoys some of the world’s best living conditions, many children feel excluded from their communities, and one in three drops out of a youth education programme.

‘The vision of Kronprinsparets Fond is to enable all young people in Norway to participate in the community, use their abilities and build good lives for themselves. We often see a link between these factors. If you feel a sense of well-being in your life, you will also contribute to the community around you,’ says Irene Lystrup.

Investing in youth
Kronprinsparets Fond has worked with Egmont since 2015. Among the projects receiving support is Ung Invest, which helps young people who have dropped out of a programme of youth education return to and complete their education – also those who for other reasons require an educational programme better tailored to their needs.

Ung Invest has produced unique results in Norway: 1,000 young people have returned to the educational system, and 80% of drop-out students also return,’ Irene Lystrup says.

The project aim is to make youngsters feel school is relevant to their hopes and dreams for life – for example, maths is relevant if you want to work in a bank or a shop. The young people also map out their own strengths, abilities and dreams, as well as plan how to attain them.

‘This plan could include quite specific items like going to bed before 10 pm so they can make it to school, cope with lessons and finish the school year,’ adds Irene Lystrup.

Learning for Life in Norwegian
The Egmont Foundation’s signature project, Learning for Life, is a prototype for a project that Kronprinsparets Fond is developing for young people who find themselves excluded. The aim is to launch a Norwegian pilot at the end of 2018.

‘The project intention is to give children and young people tools for tackling the challenges they face in their own lives – what we call “life skills”. In contrast to Learning for Life, our initiative will not focus on academic subjects. Its aim is to enable young people to complete a youth education programme by strengthening their life skills – in other words, the ability to lead a good life. Many youngsters struggle with various forms of stress and performance anxiety: they want a perfect body, the best grades and the coolest clothes. They have to learn to deal with this, and they must also be able to handle conflicts constructively. Be a good friend, make a friend and keep on being friends,’ says Irene Lystrup, adding:

‘The Egmont Foundation and Kronprinsparets Fond work together to give Norwegian youth the capabilities and skills they need to complete a youth education programme and thus be able to build good lives for themselves and gain the abilities to cope with life.’

Egmont is a highly regarded partner
Although Egmont is based in Denmark, the Egmont Foundation is an obvious partner for both the Norwegian Women's Public Health Association and Kronprinsparets Fond.

‘We do have Egmont in Norway – TV 2, Cappelen Damm and Nordisk Film – so relating to Egmont isn’t hard. We are proud to be able to say that Egmont chose us in Norway. The local branches can be proud of that too,’ says Cecilia Skavlan.

Kronprinsparets Fond places special emphasis on Egmont Foundation’s professional standing and almost a century of experience with charitable work.

‘We are extremely particular about who we choose to partner with – our partners must have professional authority, a history and ethics. They must have a good reputation and great integrity. We want to be a partner whose competencies can contribute to the work of the Egmont Foundation. We have insight into what’s going on in Norway, the challenges and problems Norwegian youth face, so we hope to be a good sounding board for the Egmont Foundation and its activities in Norway,’ says Irene Lystrup.

 

   ‘With A Helping Hand we focus on factors important in preventing children’s exclusion in and outside of school. The children who get help live in persistent poverty. Their situation isn’t going to change. That’s why we’re delighted with our five-year agreement with the Egmont Foundation, because it lets us create continuity. We helped a boy with his football club fees, and we can help again next year, because he’s in the same situation,’ says Cecilia Skavlan.

   The aid goes primarily to leisure activities, education and equipment – imperatives for enabling children to participate on an equal footing with their friends. A helping hand should not just be a one-off gift but should be followed up with longer-term help.

 

A reading friend who listens and sees

Since 2017 the Egmont Foundation has also supported the NKS project En lesevenn (A Reading Friend), an initiative involving reading aloud to children in kindergartens, libraries and after-school programmes.  

   ‘Reading aloud tremendously helps a child from a minority background on every front – language development, imagination and cultural understanding – when he or she listens to, say, a Norwegian fairy tale. The child can engage closely with an adult who can give her the time and attention she needs. Having an adult from outside who has the time simply to be there exclusively for the children is so important,’ explains Cecilia Skavlan, who also mediates contact with local reading friends.

   The En lesevenn project is to be extended throughout Norway, the aim being to reach 45 local associations by the end of 2019 and to build a team of 100 weekly reading friend volunteers.

    ‘The money from the Egmont Foundation means we can give the local branches a sum to get started – rent premises, buy books or accessories. For example, the staff of an after-school care programme have made a reading corner with an armchair and lamps and have sewn cushions. Perhaps they can serve fruit or give the children crayons and paper so they can draw while listening to stories, or provide transport that ensures the children can join in,’ Cecilia Skavlan explains.

 

Young people and exclusion
Being included in and contributing to a community is also a key focus of Kronprinsparets Fond, Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit's Foundation, which was established on the occasion of the couple’s wedding in 2001. Although the royals lead a privileged life, young people and exclusion are themes about which the Norwegian Crown Prince and Princess are passionate. Instead of wedding gifts, the couple asked for contributions to a foundation, and the Norwegian government has twice contributed NOK 1 per Norwegian, or a total of about NOK 10 million, to the foundation, which supports projects that help young people.

   ‘Crown Princess Mette-Marit and Crown Prince Haakon share a commitment to young people, in particular those who are excluded – or in danger of being excluded – from school, work and social arenas,’ says Irene Lystrup, managing director of the foundation.

 

  In its first decade Kronprinsparets Fond supported humanitarian causes in Norway and abroad, but since 2011 has supported long-term projects that help strengthen Norwegian youth, focusing on the fight against exclusion. The royal couple are highly committed to the projects supported by their foundation, attending board meetings and often visiting the projects to meet the youngsters and get a sense of how each individual is getting on.

   Although Norway enjoys some of the world’s best living conditions, many children feel excluded from their communities, and one in three drops out of a youth education programme.

   ‘The vision of Kronprinsparets Fond is to enable all young people in Norway to participate in the community, use their abilities and build good lives for themselves. We often see a link between these factors. If you feel a sense of well-being in your life, you will also contribute to the community around you,’ says Irene Lystrup.

 

Investing in youth
Kronprinsparets Fond has worked with Egmont since 2015. Among the projects receiving support is Ung Invest, which helps young people who have dropped out of a programme of youth education return to and complete their education – also those who for other reasons require an educational programme better tailored to their needs.

   Ung Invest has produced unique results in Norway: 1,000 young people have returned to the educational system, and 80% of drop-out students also return,’ Irene Lystrup says.

   The project aim is to make youngsters feel school is relevant to their hopes and dreams for life – for example, maths is relevant if you want to work in a bank or a shop. The young people also map out their own strengths, abilities and dreams, as well as plan how to attain them.

   ‘This plan could include quite specific items like going to bed before 10 pm so they can make it to school, cope with lessons and finish the school year,’ adds Irene Lystrup.

 

Learning for Life in Norwegian

The Egmont Foundation’s signature project, Learning for Life, is a prototype for a project that Kronprinsparets Fond is developing for young people who find themselves excluded. The aim is to launch a Norwegian pilot at the end of 2018.

   ‘The project intention is to give children and young people tools for tackling the challenges they face in their own lives – what we call “life skills”. In contrast to Learning for Life, our initiative will not focus on academic subjects. Its aim is to enable young people to complete a youth education programme by strengthening their life skills – in other words, the ability to lead a good life. Many youngsters struggle with various forms of stress and performance anxiety: they want a perfect body, the best grades and the coolest clothes. They have to learn to deal with this, and they must also be able to handle conflicts constructively. Be a good friend, make a friend and keep on being friends,’ says Irene Lystrup, adding:

   ‘The Egmont Foundation and Kronprinsparets Fond work together to give Norwegian youth the capabilities and skills they need to complete a youth education programme and thus be able to build good lives for themselves and gain the abilities to cope with life.’

 

Egmont is a highly regarded partner
Although Egmont is based in Denmark, the Egmont Foundation is an obvious partner for both the Norwegian Women's Public Health Association and Kronprinsparets Fond.

   ‘We do have Egmont in Norway – TV 2, Cappelen Damm and Nordisk Film – so relating to Egmont isn’t hard. We are proud to be able to say that Egmont chose us in Norway. The local branches can be proud of that too,’ says Cecilia Skavlan.

   Kronprinsparets Fond places special emphasis on Egmont Foundation’s professional standing and almost a century of experience with charitable work.

   ‘We are extremely particular about who we choose to partner with – our partners must have professional authority, a history and ethics. They must have a good reputation and great integrity. We want to be a partner whose competencies can contribute to the work of the Egmont Foundation. We have insight into what’s going on in Norway, the challenges and problems Norwegian youth face, so we hope to be a good sounding board for the Egmont Foundation and its activities in Norway,’ says Irene Lystrup.