How and why this publication came about
A large amount of research was conducted in the search for the examples used in this publication. The project team, formed by both researchers and with the input of the Roma youth organisations involved in the Roma Youth Action Plan and of the ROMED programme of the Council of Europe, began by asking themselves what the most common approaches and practices of Roma youth participation and the combatting of discrimination were. Some of the criteria related to creating a geographical balance in order to highlight that Roma youth participation is not restricted to one country or region. Another criterion was to ensure a representation of European, national and local organisations; this shows that Roma youth participation is happening at different levels and has an influence not just on a local settlement or community in some cases, but on national youth and or Roma policy in other cases. Different approaches of participation were also taken into account alongside different target groups within the young Roma populations: rural, inner city, LGBT, economically challenged young people and so on.
With these criteria in mind, the team proceeded to identify a number of projects or initiatives aimed at empowering Roma young people through participation. Initially, a list of 45 projects was defined, and a first filtering of the projects began.
The project team collected and reviewed all available information provided by the project and any partners. They set the following questions against those examples and information:
- Can the identified project or initiative be considered good, inspiring and relevant?
- Is the project or initiative of Roma youth participation producing a significant impact at the level of policy and/or public opinion in the community? If so, how?
- Does the project or initiative of Roma youth participation have any potential of replicability and, if so, on what conditions? What is the role of the young Roma in the project?
Once this phase had been completed, the team organised interviews with representatives of the projects / initiatives, with the beneficiaries and with people from the wider community affected by the project or initiative. This was to create a deeper understanding of the work taking place, the approaches used, and effectiveness of the participation of the Roma young people.
From the interview material, the researchers created the first drafts of the text for the publication; the text was then sent back to each project organiser for comments, correction and/or approval.
This project involved the following authors and contributors:
Alexandra Raykova (Bulgaria)
Alexandra is a trainer, facilitator and a consultant who has extensive experience working on diversity, inclusion, participation, human rights, youth work and organisational management issues. She is continuously working in Roma neighbourhoods on community empowerment and mediation. Alexandra has managed a local youth NGO and has been the president of the Forum of European Roma Young People, established as the first European Roma youth network. She has been involved in major policy-making processes for Roma and Roma youth issues from local to European level.
Miguel Angel Garcia Lopez (Spain / Germany)
Miguel is an experienced evaluator, trainer, Lecturer and e-Learning-Moderator working at European level for European Institutions and NGOs and in Germany for the Universities of Hannover and of Osnabrück in the following fields: social inclusion, participation, training of trainers, human rights, voluntary service, global education, intercultural dialogue, conflict transformation and peace education.
Brian Belton (United Kingdom)
Brian is an academic and global consultant on youth work and related disciplines. As an educator and trainer he was able in the past 20 years to produce a numerous books and articles on issues related to youth work. Brian is also acknowledged academic on topics of Gypsy, Traveller and Roma identity, rigths and politics.
Nicholas Paddison (United Kingdom / Montenegro)
Nik is a freelance trainer in the European youth field. He is also a writer, consultant, copy editor, and, for conferences and large youth events, works as a speaker, facilitator and rapporteur. Nik has a background as a youth worker from the UK. Over the last 15 years he has worked as a trainer of youth workers, leaders, volunteers and activists in the European youth field. He has been a part of youth work and non-formal education / learning recognition, working with local and international organisations across Europe.
The secretariat of the ROMED programme of the Council of Europe supported the project and contributed with identifying the practices described here.
From the secretariat of the Youth Department, Denis Durmis contributed to the project management and the contacts with youth organisations. Mara Georgescu managed the entire project and supported the final editing process. Rui Gomes provided useful insights into the final editing of the project.