French students visit Sunderland as part of cultural project

Mayor of Sunderland Coun Doris MacKnight (centre) meets with young people visiting Sunderland from Saint-Nazaire.
Mayor of Sunderland Coun Doris MacKnight (centre) meets with young people visiting Sunderland from Saint-Nazaire.

French children have been given a warm Wearside welcome as they visit Sunderland as part of a project.

Six youngsters from Saint-Nazaire, Sunderland’s twin city in France, are spending four days in the city and met up with members of the city’s Youth Parliament as well as mayor Coun Doris MacKnight.

The French visitors will be working closely with Sunderland Youth Parliament (SYP) to learn how to develop the work of their own youth parliament.

They will also get to spend some free time touring the city.

SYP, a group of 22 young people, aged 11 to 18, works to give a voice to children and teenagers in Sunderland.

The group works with Together for Children, regularly meeting with staff as well as Sunderland’s councillors and MPs.

Gaïdig Carré, 17, from Saint-Nazaire, said: “This visit is the culmination of a year of hard work and the first official year of our work in citizen engagement.

“We are looking forward to experiencing another culture and meeting people, as well as learning about the work of Sunderland Youth Parliament.”

Thomas Crawford, 18, chairman of SYP, said: “We’re all excited about meeting and working with our French visitors, having spent time preparing for the visit.

“We can’t wait for a few days of fun and activities with them, plus a chance to brush up on our French.

“The visit shows that the concept of youth voice doesn’t stop at borders, and we’re all feeling privileged to be able to help another youth group develop theirs.”

SYP has worked with Together for Children’s education services in the city to design a ‘Curriculum for Life’, helping to prepare school pupils for the experiences they face in areas such as mental health, sex and relationships and money management.