In May 2023, two Youth Peer Support Workers (Daphnée and Bronwyn) from the Foundry Virtual BC team were given the opportunity to present at the International Conference on Integrated Care (ICIC), which took place in Antwerp, Belgium. What followed was an incredible and unforgettable trip to Europe. The Conconi Family Foundation played an integral role in not only funding the trip, but also providing both Daphnée and Bronwyn support before, during, and after the conference. 

To provide some context, the Conconi Family Foundation has been involved with the Transnational Forum on Integrated Community Care (TransForm), which is a learning coalition of philanthropic foundations in Europe and Canada. As a result of this involvement, the Conconi Family Foundation collaborated with the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Foundation for Integrated Care (IFIC) and other integrated care centres to create a workshop that was presented at the conference. 

The name of the workshop was titled “Bridging the gap between the conceptual and the practical — reflections on the opportunities and challenges of meaningful engagements of people with lived experience in the context of integrated community care.” The focus of the workshop was to inspire other health care agencies to include people with lived experience of mental illness and non-communicable diseases in the creation, implementation, and evaluation of programs, policies and in decision making

The Conconi Family foundation reached out to Foundry BC because it believed that including a youth voice during the workshop would be valuable. As a result, Daphnée was chosen to attend the conference as a Youth Peer Support Worker, and was supported by Bronwyn, the Peer Support and Family Engagement Coordinator on the Foundry Virtual BC team. 

Daphnée (on the left) and Bronwyn (on the right) at the ICIC 23 Conference.

In their own words: 


As I reflect on the past two months, I don’t have the right words to describe my experience presenting at ICIC 23. If I could pick one word, however, it would be “magical.” Not only was it my first opportunity to present at a conference, but it was also my first-time visiting Europe. Since being back in Vancouver, I’ve been floating on a cloud of pure bliss! Reflecting on my time in Antwerp brings back fond memories, and I’m certain Bronwyn feels the same way!


Our journey started as soon as we found out we were the chosen candidate, about three months before the conference. In preparation for the conference, we met with the workshop team, studied the WHO’s latest Framework on “The Meaningful Engagement of People with Lived Experience”, and rehearsed what we wanted to share – mostly, we wanted to showcase the amazing work we do at Foundry! Our hope was to inspire other health agencies and individuals across the world, as Foundry is truly a leader when it comes to integrated community care and providing support to youth aged 12-24. I was happy to support Daphnée as she prepared for her first trip to Europe, and before we knew it, we were on a plane to Europe!

Soon enough, we landed in Amsterdam, just one train ride away from where the conference was held, in Antwerp. After getting a bit mixed up at the train ticket counter, we rushed to catch the next train that was leaving in 3 minutes! Luckily, we made it just in time, despite Daphnée’s sprained ankle!


When I arrived in Antwerp, I immediately dropped my carry-on at the hotel, and visited the Chocolate Nation Museum just next door. I was too excited to go to sleep despite the fact I was jet-lagged, and my experience at the museum did not disappoint! I was even able to taste melted chocolate from around the world. While I learned more about the history of chocolate and its production in Belgium, Bronwyn stayed at the hotel to take a much-deserved nap!

The next morning, we had a wonderful breakfast with the most breathtaking view of Antwerp’s Central Station. We spent the day sightseeing, and later that evening, had a lovely dinner with Sanja, who treated us to the most amazing meal. I had the best carbonara of my life, and we learned about the importance of asparagus season in Europe, as an entire menu was dedicated to the green vegetable. After dinner, we left the restaurant and went straight to our hotel, as we needed rest for the next 3 days of the conference!


The conference lasted from May 22nd to May 24th. We had the opportunity to soak up information from around the world on a variety of topics, including the co-production of care, the importance of family-centered care, and other ways we can all work together to improve care for populations around the globe. Our workshop, which took place on the second day, was a success! We had many attendees filling the entire room. Nieves Ehrenberg from the IFIC welcomed everyone and shared opening statements alongside Jack Fisher, a technical officer with the WHO. The audience was divided into three groups, and Daphnée and I hosted the second table where we shared our experience and examples of how staff can invite people with lived experience (PWLE) to participate in their agencies. A heated discussion broke out about peer support – the main question being, can peer support be ethically included in health care organizations? (Daphnée and I vote YES if they are truly equal members of the agency!). 


After our workshop, we attended a gala where we were served a three-course meal. We were able to connect with many folks from other countries who are also interested in promoting the importance of lived experience in different organizations, and at every level. It was a great way to celebrate our workshop, the conference, and the many individuals who have dedicated their career to promoting integrated care in the hopes of increasing people’s quality of life. 

When it comes to key learnings, what I will remember the most is that peer supporters and people with lived experience have a special place in the healthcare system or any other organizations, and their many roles — whether it be as a citizen leader, community builder, disruptor or expert — are unique and valuable. Effective integrated care would not be possible without them, as they are truly the experts in their care. I appreciated the fact that many people took the time and energy to attend and present at the conference, and I feel hopeful that we are going in the right direction when it comes to changing people’s experience of care. 

Finally, on the third day, we had the opportunity to explore the venue where the conference was held. We ended the day with dinner at the Hard Rock Café, and a nice evening walk. I became emotional and shared that since the last few years of my life have been so challenging, this trip was truly what I needed. In fact, I was so inspired that I decided to apply for a job in Switzerland shortly afterwards! I was offered the role and quickly accepted it! I am so excited to use the knowledge I learned at the conference alongside the skills I gained as a Peer Support Worker at an international boarding school in the Swiss Alps.

Bronwyn, on the other hand, is heading to graduate school in the fall, and I’m sure she will succeed in becoming a kindhearted and caring counselor – after all, she is already a gem of a human being, so I expect nothing less! We are both incredibly grateful to the Conconi Family foundation (and especially Sanja) for giving us this once in a lifetime opportunity. We will carry this experience in our minds and hearts for the rest of our lives as we pursue our dreams of supporting young people and communities to thrive. 


Our Workshop Agenda


Donations to Foundry


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