Phoebe Coles: Incredible things can be achieved when we look at diversity as a strength
Phoebe Coles is a 25-year-old Cypriot who strongly believes that “incredible things can be achieved when we look at diversity as a strength and work all together for a sustainable, equal, safe, and peaceful world.”
A recent MSc graduate in Defence, Development, and Diplomacy at Durham University, Phoebe is also the founder and director of a voluntary humanitarian group called ‘Vicinus’, which organizes education initiatives, fundraising projects, and advocacy campaigns related to human rights and humanitarian topics in Cyprus. Their work particularly focuses on women, youth, refugee and migrant rights and empowerment.
In January, with a mindset of true peacebuilder, Phoebe joined the “Young Leaders in Action” and was impressed with the programme’s objectives, which aim at strengthening engagement and meaningful participation of women and youth on the island.
She said: “I gained a sense of community and belonging to an incredible network of talented young people from diverse backgrounds and an enriched understanding from different perspectives and opinions related to youth action and empowerment”.
Phoebe, together with Yassine Chagh, Ledün Caymaz, and Penelope Demetroulopoulou, started the ‘Bubble Out-Share Your Story”. They joined forces to provide a safe space for people who have experienced mistreatment in Cyprus to share their story and to receive support from their peers and professionals. It also aims to raise awareness to the mistreatment of marginalized groups on the island.
“The Bubble Out concept was inspired by the idea that as humans, we often tend to stay in our own groups or ‘bubbles’ and many of us do not step out and immerse ourselves in diverse multi-communal spaces,” Phoebe explains and highlights that “our project gives a voice to the voiceless, empowering women, youth, and other marginalized groups with solidarity and support regardless of age, gender, sexuality, race and disability”.
When asked about the programme and its impact on the youth in Cyprus, Phoebe says: “It provides young leaders with the necessary tools to confidently establish their own youth-led initiative. The multicommunal collaboration aspect of the programme enriches young people’s horizons and empowers youth to come together to make Cyprus a better place for future generations”.
Phoebe concludes her participation with high hopes: “I was touched by the experiences, stories, and ambitions shared by the participants and it warmed my heart connecting with humans beyond borders. My hope for Cyprus and for our future increased.”
The Young Leaders in Action is organized by UNFICYP, in partnership with the British Council and the British High Commissioner in Cyprus and focus on equipping participants on peace and security, peacebuilding, social action, leadership, negotiation, and mediation processes, in addition to providing groups tools and strategies needed to develop their own intercommunal projects and small grants for implementation.