“More work, more
results, more fun!”
From 5 to 7 October 2023, Lublin – European Capital of Youth 2023 hosted 24 representatives of 10 Polish cities and towns who met to learn and share knowledge and practices in youth participation. The event included Europe Goes Local and Democracy Reloading workshops. Erasmus+ Youth and DiscoverEU initiative supported this event as part of the Lublin Triangle in cooperation with the SALTO Cooperation Center with the Eastern European and the Caucasus countries.
The workshops from Europe Goes Local and Democracy Reloading initiated partnerships between organizations working to activate young people. Participants learned about the tools and practices needed to stimulate youth development at the local level. They were also able to understand how to encourage youth to become more active, and how to create youth policy at the regional level.
Two representatives from each of the cities took part in the workshops. One was an employee of the office or local authorities, the other was a representative of a non-governmental organization or a related institution. The organizers of the event made this selection of local authorities and the NGO sector, bearing in mind that this cooperation creates a bridge between local and European activities of young people.
During the second and third days of the event, the participants had an opportunity for study visits to youth-friendly places in Lublin such as HEJ! youth center, Baobab, Piwnica Labirynt, and Semper a Frente Foundation.
Outcomes of the workshops
Europe Goes Local and Democracy Reloading workshops in Lublin introduced participants to the world of systemic solutions for youth. During the workshops, they had a chance to discuss what characterizes a young person in our world today, and what challenges local governments and NGOs face in encouraging young people to actively participate in the life of the local community. Eliza Bujalska – an educator and ambassador of the Europe Goes Local initiative in Poland, talked about the European Local Charter for Youth Work. The Charter is a tool that describes and supports the development of knowledge-based work with youth. It explains why stakeholders from a given region should conduct dialogue and create realistic strategies that respond to the needs of young people in local communities. By playing the popular taboo game, workshop participants discussed the fundamental assumptions of effective work with young people.
Mateusz Hoffmann, the expert trainer from Democracy Reloading, mobilized participants to exchange views and experiences on what youth participation brings. It was considered what skills the ones working with young people should have to include them in the decision-making process. Another point that was discussed was what the participants themselves need so they can introduce changes in this area in their cities or towns.
This event in Lublin was the spark for subsequent initiatives promoting Europe Goes Local and Democracy Reloading as part of the cooperation of the National Erasmus+ Agency and the SALTO EECA Center. Magdalena Lewandowska from the Erasmus+ Youth and DiscoverEU team said after the workshops that each city that participated in the event will receive training and mentoring support in creating youth policies. There will also be meetings on how to implement local youth work in alliance with the European Charter and strengthen youth participation based on the Democracy Reloading matrix.
Participants said the event gave them plenty of inspiration and good practices in creating new spaces for young people. They were glad to learn more about the various tools for quality development of youth work and expand the network on the national, regional, and European levels.
Sources: Europa dla Aktywnych, wydanie specjalne 2023 – special edition of ‘Europe for Active’ magazine, December 2023, FRSE -Fundacja Rozwoju Systemu Edukacji (Foundation for the Development of the Education System)
Photo credit: Kamil Domański