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Mediation: a new tool for dealing with conflicts In Youth Work
Start date: Sep 1, 2015, End date: Aug 31, 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

When discussing the current challenges for youth workers in Europe Platform Spartak and Synergy recognised that existing tensions between groups of people in vulnerable conditions and situation needs to be addressed, for example in the youth sector and in youth organizations. On a bigger scale, tendencies which feature discrimination, stereotyping and prejudices can create an on-going and long lasting atmosphere of fear and hate, bearing the potential for violent outbreaks in different degrees. The partners recognised that the youth sector and especially the environment of youth organizations are vulnerable for developing similar tendencies on a smaller scale. We believe that youth workers can play and important role as pro-active agent in interpersonal and organizational conflict and mediation. We furthermore believe that the topic is not given enough attention and is still underestimated in Youth Organizations, or other NGOs and within the connected public discourse. Young people are often only seen as victims or perpetrators in (violent) conflicts, but their potential to be part of the solution is usually ignored, or not considered. With this project activity we see an opportunity to counter this notion, and show that the professional development of youth workers on the topic of mediation can contribute to the long-term transformation of Youth Work policies, youth organizations and individuals. The project activity “Mediation: a new tool for dealing with conflicts In Youth Work” is a combined Training Course and Seminar with deepening elements on skills development. By delivering an extensive introduction to learn and map out different mediation initiatives existing in the partner countries involved and the theory and techniques of conflict and mediation, we envision to raise awareness about the importance of mediation practices. The aim of the project activity is to empower youth workers as key role players in interpersonal and organizational conflict by enhancing their mediation skills as a means for conflict transformation. Together with all partners we recognized the need to: -raise awareness about the importance and employability of a topic such as mediation; -create a basic understanding of definitions and concepts of mediation, and link it to that what is happening in local context of the partner countries; -motivate the partners and youth workers to actively participate in mediation processes, making them realize mediation is an important topic that the youth sector should be engaged in; -build the capacities in our organizations and of members related to the field of mediation (in communication and conflict) preventing and resolving organizational conflicts through effective communication skills and mediation techniques; -give an opportunity to (local) youth workers to bring their work and good practices to a European level; -provide youth workers with a space to share and learn from each others best practices and examples in mediation processes to collect useful experiences with typical organizational conflicts. To respond to these challenges and needs, a comprehensive training program was developed. “Mediation: a new tool for dealing with conflicts In Youth Work” aims to provide 28 youth workers with a practical tool to take an active role in mediation processes in their youth work, more concretely to raise awareness, create understanding and deliver basic skills: -about the potential of mediation for preventing and solving organizational conflicts within organization; -about the potential of mediation for conflict transformation in society; -several initiatives of mediation in the different countries; -teaching youth workers about mediation principles and enhancing conflict resolution skills; -encouraging youth workers to implement effective communication and working resolution protocols within their work and organization in order to prevent and resolve conflicts. -encouraging youth workers to develop follow-up projects spreading the use of our 10 points document in working in conflict, especially community conflicts. 'Mediation in Youth Work' will take place from the 15th until the 21st of March, 2016 in the provence of Groningen, The Netherlands and will include 28 youth workers coming from The Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Italy, Bulgaria, Portugal and Romania in this project activity.
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