Structured dialogue – Volunteering Youths

Volunteering Youths is a KA3 type of project of 9 months funded by the European Commission through the Erasmus+ programme. The goal of the project was to facilitate a structured dialogue seminar in Balan, Romania by bringing together 72 young people from Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Czech Republic with 12 decision-makers and experts for the realization of a centralized youth policy that capacities and supports volunteer initiatives of young people. The structured dialogue unfolded between 8th-19th November 2019 and its main outcome was a youth policy created by the young participants.

Watch the video of the project to get a glimpse of how was like the experience of the participants of the structured dialogue.

Identification of the problem

The legislative framework of the youth volunteering is not developed enough to sustain and encourage youth volunteering activities in the four programme countries. The youths participating in our previous projects emphasized the fact that volunteering activities are highly limited promoted to young people in schools, while this represents the most appropriate time to be engaged in this type of activities in order to figure out what they would like to do in a potential career and develop their active citizenship. Although there is a European legislation on volunteering and many programs that support such activities (Erasmus+, European Solidarity Corps) are missing the regulations at the national levels. These regulations, especially related to the youth domain should be made by involving all the actors that have a say: youth workers, NGOs’representatives, teachers and last but not least youths.

Therefore, through the KA3 Volunteering Youths we aimed at facilitating the context in which 72 young people from Romania, Slovakia, Hungary and Czech Republic will have the opportunity to engage in a dialogue with decision makers and experts representing the educational institutions, non-governmental sector and the public administration. The methods used in the 10 days structured dialogue were non-formal such as: presentations, debates, energizing games, role-plays, simulations and team-work.

The objectives achieved by the end of the project are the following:
1. Raised level of  competencies of the 72 participants  from the four participating countries with regards to the importance in getting involved in volunteering activities.
2. Facilitated the framework for structured dialogue between the 72 young people and 12 decision
makers that resulted in a youth policy proposal aimed at capacitate and support volunteering activities for youths.
3. Increased awareness of the importance of volunteering as an educational and self-development tool among young people from the four communities.

 

This project contributes to the personal development of the participants by empowering them to actively involve in the youth policies. Our participants are actively involved in the dissemination process and spread the information about our project and the Erasmus+ programme. Through the brochure of the project and of the “The Volunteering Youths” youth policy proposal, the project will have impact on young people and policy-makers from decentralized levels.

In the long run, the interaction between young people and decision-makers contributes to the changing the approach of the institutional representatives towards the active involvement of young people in the development of policies that directly target them. Thus, the process of formulating and implementing youth policies will turn from a hierarchical one into a horizontal one in which the voice of young people is listened and they are being involved in the process of youth policy.

Our project in its European and international dimension is closely linked with the Renewed Framework for European Cooperation in the Youth Field 2019-2027 by fostering understanding between young people and encouraging young people to participate in transnational development cooperation activities. By promoting our youth policy proposal online and by involving young people in addressing the issue we aim to have a medium and long-term contribution to empower youths to foster volunteering activities.

What is Erasmus Plus?  

The ERASMUS Plus Programme is an European programme aiming to offer between 2014-2020 to more than 4 million Europeans the opportunity to study, form, gain professional experience and participate in volunteer programs in other countries. It funds transnational partnerships between various education, training and youth organizations and institutions, in order to cooperate and build bridges between the education system and the workforce to help bridge the skills gap needed today.

The name of the project refers to Dutch Renaissance humanist and theologian Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam. He studied at diverse European universities and described the education as a chance for modern people.

 

Give light, and the darkness will disappear of itself.”

(Desiderius Erasmus)

 

Who will benefit?changing-lives

Apart from the students, the mobility offered by the Erasmus+ programme is dedicated for professors and universities’ staff as well. ERASMUS+ will allow:

>2 million higher education students;
>EU grants and training for about 4 million people and 125,000 institutions;
>500,000 young people will volunteer or participate in youth exchanges;
>650,000 vocational apprenticeships or traineeships abroad;
>200,000 Master’s degree loan scheme;
>25,000 joint master degree grants;
>800,000 educators and youth workers will acquire new teaching and learning methods abroad.

How to apply?

Organisations are invited to submit applications on-line to the National Agency in the relevant country or to the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). Individuals seeking to apply should contact their organisation, institution, or educational establishment.

What should I do?

If you are interested in participating in Erasmus Plus, contact the National Agency in your country or visit its website and ask about the possibilities suitable for you.

Check this video to find out the opinions and insights of people involved in Erasmus+ projects, you might want, too.

Policy Proposal
The participants of the Erasmus+ KA3 project
“Volunteering Youths”

With the support of:

• Harghita County Prefecture;
• City Halls:
1. Bălan, Romania;
2. Krnov, Czech Republic;
3. Banovce, Slovakia;

• Schools:
1. “O.C. Tăslăuanu” High School from Toplița, Romania;
2. SOŠ dopravy a cestovního ruchu, Krnov, p. o., Czech Republic;
3. Medgyessy Ferenc Gimnázium és Művészeti Szakgimnázium, Debrecen, Hungary;
4. Gymnásium Janka Jesenského Banovce, Slovakia;

• Nongovernmental Organisations:
1. Young Europe Society, Romania;
2. Youth for Youth, Czech Republic;
3. Ifjusagi Nomad Klub Nonprofit Kft, Hungary;
4. Obciansky Spolok, Slovakia.

Topic: “involvement of local youth in policy making process for promoting the access of young people to volunteering activities”
Taking note of the opportunities provided in the field of volunteering by the former European Voluntary Service activities within Youth in Action and Erasmus+ programmes;
Recognizing the added value of the new European Solidarity Corps programme in providing excellent volunteering opportunities;
Recalling the recent changes in the legislation of Romania, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary with regards to the recognition of voluntary activities;
Identifying a stringent need of youth from rural areas and small urban areas to access volunteering activities;
Stressing the necessity of trans-sectorial collaboration between various public and private institutions in creating safe and diversified volunteering contexts;

 

With regards to LOCAL AUTHORITIES,

1. Recalls an increase for the local budget allocated for volunteering activities;
2. Emphasizes the need to enhance the collaboration of local authorities in facilitating volunteering activities;
3. Calls for an increase of promotion of interactive activities, debates, round tables and meetings to foster volunteering in local communities;
4. Expresses its hope to involve local councils in the promotion of volunteering activities;
5. Stresses the importance of creating a framework for development of intercultural competencies through volunteering in local communities;
6. Invites the local council to provide the space necessary for the advertisement of voluntary activities;
7. Supports the positive impact of volunteering activities the local economy;
8. Encourages a more transparent system of recognition of volunteering learning outcomes;
9. Further request local authorities to recognize the skills and competences acquired through volunteering;
10. Reaffirms the necessity to tackle social problems, build social cohesion and promote local culture and sport through volunteering activities;
11. Calls upon the reduction of taxes and assurance of social security services and discounts for volunteers;
12. Suggest an increase in the volunteering opportunities within the local authority’s structures and bodies;
13. Strongly encourages local authorities to provide strong incentives for every young person to involve in volunteering activities before high school graduation;
14. Endorses the strengthening of the collaboration between local authorities, NGOs and schools in coordinating volunteering programmes;
15. Requests local authorities to provide spaces for volunteers where they can organize volunteering activities for the community free of charge;
16. Invites the local authorities to assist the volunteers and their coordinators in addressing the local administrative issues that can arise during volunteering programmes;
17. Demands local authorities to provide safe local environments for national and international volunteers;

With regards to NONGOVERNMENTAL ORGANISATIONS,

1. Invites nongovernmental organizations to increase the visibility of their volunteering activities;
2. Reaffirms the need for transparent selection and allocation of volunteers in volunteering projects;
3. Calls upon a boost of use of social media by nongovernmental organizations in attracting young people to volunteering activities;
4. Supports the initiative of nongovernmental organizations to provide charity through volunteering;
5. Encourages the involvement of nongovernmental organizations in raising awareness about the role of volunteering in the society;
6. Affirms the necessity for nongovernmental organizations to provide training, mentoring and support for volunteers and staff working with volunteers;
7. Emphasizes the need for trans sectorial collaboration between different actors involved in the promotion of volunteering activities;
8. Acknowledges the necessity for digital platforms and software that will ease the promotion of volunteering activities and allocation of volunteers;
9. Further invites nongovernmental organizations to apply for funding for volunteering activities;
10. Encourages nongovernmental organizations to provide the necessary space, time and logistics for volunteers to be able to perform their activities;
11. Stresses the importance of creating new opportunities for volunteering;
12. Recommend nongovernmental organizations to intermediate the collaboration between volunteers and local authorities;
13. Affirms the necessity to involve influencers in promotion activities of volunteering;
14. Advises nongovernmental organizations to increase their responsibility in the coordination process of volunteering activities;
15. Endorses rewarding and appreciative actions for volunteers;

 

With regards to SCHOOLS,

1. Urges the necessity of after school activities to promote volunteering programmes;
2. Further invites schools to recognize the merits and reward the pupils involved in voluntary activities;
3. Strongly advises schools to provide the framework necessary for the pupils to organize in volunteering teams/clubs;
4. Advises the publication of voluntary programs and assist pupils in choosing the voluntary activities;
5. Appreciates schools which empower pupils to involve in personal short term volunteering projects;
6. Recalls the role of schools in assisting pupils in the volunteering activities matching process;
7. Invites schools to actively seek partners to provide all the pupils the chance to involve in voluntary activities;
8. Designates the school staff as a valuable resource that should motivate and mentor pupils in involving in volunteering activities;
9. Further invites the schools to collaborate with other actors in providing the chance of their pupils to explore non formal learning contexts;
10. Advises schools to provide budget, places and materials for pupils interested in coordinating small scale volunteering activities;
11. Reminds schools the importance of providing access for their pupils to communicate and collaborate with active volunteers to boost pupils’ motivation;
12. Encourages schools to involve to a greater extent in European and national programmes aimed at the promotion of volunteering activities such as Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Corps;
13. Advises the involvement of schools in fund raising events for volunteering activities.

Volunteering Youths developed around four main partners, four non-governmental organisations from Romania, Slovakia, Hungary and Czech Republic. To their effort joined also educational institutions and representatives from the public administration in order to create the youth policy proposal that adresses the volunteering activities among young people:

  • City Hall of Balan Town, Harghita County, Romania;
  • The Prefecture of Harghita County, Romania;
  • Medgyessy Ferenc Gimnázium és Művészeti Szakgimnázium Debrecen, Hungary;
  • SOŠ dopravy a cestovního ruchu, Krnov, Czech Republic;
  • City Hall of Krnov, Czech Republic;
  • Gymnásium Janka Jesenského Banovce, Slovakia;
  • City Hall of Banovce, Slovakia.

 

ROMANIA – Young Europe Society is a non-governmental non-profit organization that aims to contribute to the development of the youths by inspiring them a sense of active citizenship. Y.E.S. promotes mobility within and beyond Europe, non-formal learning and intercultural dialogue, and encourages the employability and inclusion of all young people, regardless of their educational, social and cultural background. Y.E.S. mission is to promote and bring added value to participative education and active citizenship, while developing solid partnerships with institutions, organizations and individuals that are active in the same field. Y.E.S.’s goal is to facilitate exchange of experiences between young people in order to raise the level of information, and tolerance, as well as to increase youngsters’ awareness with regards to different cultures and attitudes, promoting unity in diversity.

 

Czech Republic -Youth for Youth has been founded in December 2015, working in the field of modern techniques of social communication in society using various methods of education (formal and non-formal). The organization was established to ensure the better education through every possible channel, higher awareness of local community, better communication, exchange of students, exchange of youth, education of citizens on environmental protection, promotion of European values and others. One of its biggest challenges is to promote youth work and include young people in international projects to enrich their life perspective, opportunities and integrate them as much as possible.

 

Ifjusagi Nomad Klub Nonprofit Kft. – Hungary . Ifjúsági Nomád Klub is a non-profit, non-governmental organization located in the capital of Hungary, Budapest. It has been established by the fresh graduates formerly active in Erasmus Student Network (esn.org) during their university years. Therefore, our organization consist of people who are highly motivated and dedicated to the promotion of active lifestyle as the main key leading to the healthy and quality life. We employ informal and non-formal teaching as well as learning methods to broaden the outlook of young people and increase their involvement regarding their choices on a healthier lifestyle, active sports, outdoor activities such as mountaineering, hiking, camping and other.

 

SK – Obciansky Spolok aims to develop social competences, developing, maintaining and support the interests, culture and free-time activities of Hungarian minority in South of Slovakia through creative programs and events. We as well focus to promote a better understanding of cultural diversity, helping our society to evolve from multicultural substance to intercultural one. We are active on a local and regional level, but we also organize large scale international activities cooperating with similar organizations in neighbouring county. Volunteers are working with all ages from different background and also cooperate with local grammar school of the Hungarian national minority.

Written thoughts

Video testimonial

Romania

The young participants organised two events where they shared the project results with their peers and colleagues at school. They presented the policy proposal and fostered a discussion on the importance of volunteering for their personal and professional lives.

Czech Republic

Participants from Czech Republic had shared their experience of “Volunteering Youths” and the policy proposal created within the mobility in Balan during an event organised in their high school.

 

Activities during the mobility

 

Visit at the Harghita Prefecture in Miercurea Ciuc.

 

Video of the project