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Dr Yasmeen Ali

Senior Lecturer, Global Youth Solutions Coordinator
School of Social Work, Care and Community

Yasmeen Ali leads and develops academic programmes in Community Leadership. The programme incorporates practice-based learning, providing students with professional experience in community action, mentoring and leading on community projects. Formed using a transformative framework, the academic courses examine students’ own ontological and epistemological assumptions, values and beliefs. Through contextualising and reconceptualising their reality, students are equipped to work with and guide others in translating their perspectives, perceptions and goals into agendas for social change.

Committed to seeking a fair and just world and influenced by the work of Paulo Freire, Yasmeen has nurtured her practice to be collaborative and transformational. Applying theoretical components of transformational education to her teaching and learning Yasmeen has been able to provide young people with a voice, incorporating peer education as a means of humanizing those involved. The work carried out with the Traveller Gypsy community in Preston is an example of this. Recognising their deep-rooted oral culture, their voices were extracted using creative art to develop a critical monologue by embracing the traditional form of storytelling. Still granting the basic values of trust, dignity and respect, the work was carried out collaboratively through mutual, reciprocal and equal partnership. Illustrating the transformative methods used to engage one of the most marginalised communities, Yasmeen went to co-author a research paper (Melling & Ali, 2015) published in Peters & Besley’s (2015) book Paulo Freire: The Global Legacy.

Yasmeen also leads on the Global Youth Solutions Programme (GYS). This is a peer research and leadership initiative for social justice, working locally and internationally. Over the years the GYS Programme has been successfully delivered within higher educational institutions (HEI) in Oman, engaging with ten Omani HEIs. The core programme was delivered by UCLan student volunteer peer educators at Nizwa University and The International College for Engineering and Management (Oman). Between 2014 and 2017, GYS engaged 260 Omani Students as peer leaders, and forged a Memorandum of Understanding with Nizwa University. In 2013 the GYS programme engaged with the University of Gujrat (UoG) in Pakistan, resulting in a student led conference, where student volunteers from the University of Central Lancashire and UoG co-created a conceptual ‘volunteer centre’ at UoG, with the mission of delivering peer leadership education for social justice. The result was ‘The Centre for Civil Society’ within UoG, ratified in 2014 by the Vice Chancellor, Professor Mohammad Nizamuddin, now the Head of the Pakistan HEC. Working locally, GYS has supported the Traveller Community in Lancashire. It still has had a big impact on those involved and a deeper resonance from the learning co-created. Education is social justice, as without it, people struggle to become socially integrated egalitarian agents of change. The freedom to access a meaningful and empowering education is a social justice issue, with repercussions for democracy and community development. The GYS programme worked on the Preston site with young people to deliver a story telling project about Traveller sports, experience, culture, and how the young people saw their place in the world. In the spirit of Freirean pedagogy, representatives from the Traveller community formed an ongoing dialogue with undergraduates, engaging on Traveller culture, rights, and social justice. Collaborating with Traveller communities has richly informed research and pedagogical approaches, thus influencing emerging work with marginalised communities such as Shadsworth, Blackburn with Darwen, and Whitehaven, in West Cumbria. Also, nascent sport and well-being activity with Syrian Refugees and Asylum Seeker communities in Italy, Greece, and Lancashire.