OPEN YOUTH WORK FOR OPEN SOCIETY is an international project started in 2019 that aims to raise awareness about youth work and to support it. The project involves five partners from different countries (Romania, Serbia, Germany, Slovenia and Italy) that worked together to create this dossier as an argumentation aid to support open youth work.
The partners involved in the project are Strauss APS (Mussomeli, Italy), Asociația Curba de Cultură (Izvoarele, Romania), Narandžasti (Pančevo, Serbia), Ris, raziskovalno izobraževalno središče Dvorec Rakičan (Rakičan, Slovenia) and Roter Baum Berlin (Berlin, Germany).
The partners involved in this project agree that open youth work has a special role to play in supporting the personal development of young people. This is done in particular through a participatory and self-determined approach that enables young people to recognise and satisfy their own needs. We want to promote the idea of youth centres in which young people can meet informally (also called open youth work), spend leisure time, receive support through counselling and develop their own ideas. From this starting point, the youth centres, together with the young people, develop extracurricular educational activities in the field of their interest. In this way, the young people will be involved in the decision-making process, which will lead to greater participation in projects. We firmly believe that this approach is useful for all young people and that it is a very integrative way of working with them. Our experience is that for young people who find it difficult to adapt to a formal framework (school, vocational training, etc.), participation in informal and non-formal activities can be a step towards a better future or even back to formal education.
In order to work on this, it is important to ensure sustainable financing, joint recognition and development of quality youth work in order to strengthen youth organisations and their role in integration, participation and non-formal education through the exchange of innovative methods and experiences in working with young people. We started by conducting interviews addressed to youth workers, developing a questionnaire aimed at young people and we organised a youth encounter in Romania. With the results we want to encourage a discussion on what open youth work is and should be (its methods, tools, meanings and variations). We collected examples of successful open youth work activities and good practices, different models of youth centres, young people’s ideas about what open youth work should achieve and how it should be equipped, as well as scientific studies. The results highlight how open youth work improves young people’s competences, supporting them to get active in their interests, environments and communities.
The process was accompanied by four Transnational Meetings organised in different countries, through which we have worked together to come up with three argumentation tools for open youth work. The first argumentation tool is a detailed description of open youth work, aimed at specialist politicians and the specialist departments of local authorities. This document summarises the opportunities and the results of open youth work, placing them in the context of positive social development. A handout in the form of a short information brochure is given to all parliamentary decision-makers. The second contains recommendations for universities to sharpen and improve the profile of youth workers in open youth work. Both are discussed with representatives of the respective target groups and tested for their practical applicability. The third one contains a vision of the youth centre in terms of space, resources and staff, also offering media contents produced by the partners together with the young people.
This process included representatives from universities and municipalities of each country, who provided feedback in order to guarantee high quality results for implementation at a local level.
The project “Open Youthwork for Open Society – give a chance to Informal Youth Centres” is funded by the Erasmus + Programme of the European Union (Call 2019 Round 2 KA2 – Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices – KA205 – Strategic Partnerships for youth).