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Who does youth work? Supporting youth-led associations in peer-to-peer youth empowerment
Start date: 01 May 2015, End date: 31 Aug 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Youth Participation is a crucial element of democratic processes in any society. Young people become able to engage and oppose decision makers, enrich the media, political, economic and social landscape and make their voice heard. However, young people rarely have the chance to play an active role in civil society. Particularly in Southeast Europe, membership-based, participatory youth associations, that could provide a platform for youth, rarely exist. The partner organizations of this project represent some of the few participatory youth associations in the region and a positive exception in that regard. However, these youth associations face a number of specific challenges. They have to manage constant fluctuation of ‘staff’ and volunteers, as members grow older and move on. While this implies a great deal of innovation and creativity, it also undermines organizational stability. As membership-based organizations, these associations typically also need to maintain and involve a network of local teams and members, and make sure that the ties between the ‘center’ and these local bodies stay tight. And lastly, as ‘youth organizations’, they also have to deal with the issue of financial stability, as they often do not satisfy the criteria of donors and especially in Southeast Europe lack governmental financial support. This program aims to improve youth-led, peer-to-peer youth work by offering spaces for exchange and training to participatory, youth-led associations from Southeast Europe and Germany. It consists of a series of seminars and trainings for active peer-to-peer youth workers of five youth-led associations. The activities cover relevant aspects and issues that have been identified as essential by the partner organizations work and thus contribute to the quality of youth work in Southeast Europe and Germany. The focus of the project will be: - Exchange between a number of different peer-to-peer youth workers on best practice - working with local teams - participatory organizational structures - project management for peer-to-peer youth work, and - financial stability and fundraising for voluntary youth associations. The project has a very concrete and tangible impact on two levels. First, it provides the participants with concrete tools and methods for their work and activities. This will lead to an increase in quality, efficiency and subsequently to an increase of the impact of the work of youth organizations. Second, the project connects individuals and organizations and facilitates cooperation and lasting peer-support. By establishing a network of youth-led organizations and peer-to-peer youth workers, the project contributes to building a regional and European approach to youth activism and promoting European integration from below. In addition to the European context, this project will be of great significance for Southeast Europe since youth participation and inter-state cooperation will be strengthened. To expand the impact of the project beyond the scope of the participants and participating organizations, the participants will share their knowledge with other youth workers and thereby function as multipliers in their country or region. The documentation and sharing of the project will serve as reference for the participating and other youth organizations, who can use this information in their work.
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