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Developing Civic Youth Work
Start date: Jul 1, 2015, End date: Oct 31, 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Public Achievement in Belfast, Northern Ireland has selected two young women - from Austria and Croatia respectively - to volunteer for a year, working directly with young people from across Northern Ireland. They will receive training in Public Achievement's 'Civic Youth Work' model and work with the organisation's 'Away from Violence' and 'WIMPS' (Where is My Public Servant?) projects. In the Away from Violence project, the volunteers will work with young people in their own communities - mostly in areas that are socially disadvantaged and which have been disproportionately affected by the former conflict and ongoing tensions in this divided society. They will work with a wide range of groups and with other volunteers, including police officers who are being trained to work with young people in their communities. The WIMPS project encourages and supports young people to bring their issues directly to those in positions of power - particularly elected representatives. The EVS volunteers will get to meet senior political figures with the young people they work with, and will assist the young people to communicate their issues and ideas both directly and through film and articles on the website. The project will be primarily located in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Project Objectives: • To support EVS volunteers to develop skills, knowledge and practice in Civic Youth Work and informal/community education through a variety of media (e.g. group work, multi-media, art and drama). • To support EVS volunteers in engaging young people on public issues that can help them (both the young people and the volunteer) learn the skills of working democratically and non-violently. • To support and encourage the acquisition of skills that can be brought back to the volunteers’ home country after the period of their placement. • To support EVS volunteers in developing skills around critical reflective practice, and use these as a learning tool both for the volunteer and for Public Achievement. • To foster international co-operation around issues of citizenship, particularly in 'contested’ areas and countries and to harness the skills, knowledge and abilities that the volunteers bring to us. Public Achievement prides itself as an organisation committed to on-going reflection on practice and to sharing this learning to a wider audience, locally, nationally and internationally (e.g. we have produced two guidebooks that outline our model: 'Citizens Now'; and 'Building Democracy in Contested Spaces with Young People'). Our EVS volunteers will feed into this reflection process and help shape our work as a whole and as such play a contributing role in improving youth support across civil society. In terms of impact at a local level, Public Achievement’s mission statement of ‘Building Democratic Communities Together’, is of the utmost importance. Through the support of the EVS volunteers, young people get an opportunity (one they are not often afforded) to affect positive change in their community in a manner that is democratic and non-violent. This has the effect of changing and challenging the patterns of leadership within communities, based on young people learning to become civic actors within their communities. Building the capacity of young people to work for positive social change will have a lasting legacy and brings added value to the contribution of the EVS volunteers.
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