Theme - How can youth work help to build a social and fair Europe for all young people?
I attended a Youth Conference in Germany as one of the international guests. During my visit, I was privilege to see a mixture of youth projects in action and get to meet come wonderful people, from some wonderful organisations, both from the UK and throughout Europe. The German approach to youth services was presented on the basis that the state will deliver unless a third sector organisation is better placed and then they will fund them to do so. A public-sector youth centre I visited echoed this approach. They were locality based, delivered afterschool provision for primary school age (between 4-6pm), youth centre for secondary school (6-9pm), a parental support hub during the day, as required and holiday provision. Dusseldorf presented a traditionally mix of youth centres, outreach and targeted support, intervening early and ensuring that children and families were fully integrated and supported with the community.
We were fortunate that we have Gerd Scheuerpflug, a Policy Adviser for the Institute for Youth Development, KULT, who took the time to act as a guide and interpreter during our visit, as the organisations assembled in the exhibition space, VCS, State and faith, were all eager to share their journey.
The UK delegation was very passionate about youth mobility and eager to continue relationships post BREXIT, a view heightened as Article 50 was triggered during our visit. Our European counterparts, practitioners, delegates, exhibitors all expressed concerns around future working relationships /cross border youth work and youth mobility/opportunities, as much of this is funded through the EU.
So what about Europe? Youth work without Europe? Europe without youth work? The future of the UK within this framework?
We know that young people transcend national borders by consuming media, travelling, and gaining an education. However, almost 30 per cent of all Europeans aged 15 to 29 – that's around 26 million young people – are threatened by poverty and social exclusion. Equal opportunities, solidarity and social responsibility are more urgently needed than ever before!
Brexit will have an impact on many things but it will not have an impact on what we do, why we do it and the importance it has to children and young people and to the wider community. We have many challenges facing us as a sector that is why I firmly believe that together we are stronger!
For the remainder of our time within the EU there are still opportunities to explore and I will bring any developments or opportunities to you as they arise.
It was the 16th German Child and Youth Welfare Congress (DJHT) was a unique showcase for the expertise, creativity and commitment of the child and youth welfare community. The event included an expert programme with presentations, workshops and debates, along with a fair attended by more than 300 exhibitors, demonstrating the enormous diversity of this field, with around 30,000 guests/participants and a 300+ International guests.