Values-based youth work in war context
The Council of Europe and the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Ukraine organised a study visit and seminar for youth workers and representatives of youth centres providing youth work during war time in Ukraine.
The activity brought together 35 participants who continue organising and providing youth work in various regions and places of Ukraine at the European Youth Centre in Strasbourg from 5 to 10 December 2022.
The study visit and seminar in Strasbourg responded to the needs of the youth sector in Ukraine to strengthen competence and motivation of the specialists who are responding to challenges in their communities caused by military aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine.
The programme consisted of elements which gave the participants opportunity:
- To meet with the Council of Europe and the city of Strasbourg officials for discussing democracy, human rights and rule of law, as well as youth policy role for ensuring them
- To explore the educational resources and policy standards of the youth sector the Council of Europe
- To discover the opportunities of grants provided by European Youth Foundation (EYF)
- To exchange experiences as youth workers committed to value-based activities with youth workers came from Quality-Labelled Youth Centres, namely De Hoge Rielen Youth Centre (Belgium), Killarney Youth Centre (Ireland), Timisoara Youth House (FITT) (Romania), Centre Cinqfontaines for Service national de la jeunesse (Luxembourg)
- To visits socio-cultural centers and associations of Strasbourg that provide youth work
- To explore the role of the Council of Europe Action Plan on Ukraine for youth policy and youth work through the activities of Youth for Democracy in Ukraine project
- To discuss the recent initiatives of youth centres and youth workers as respond to war and build a network within Ukraine
- To develop cooperation and follow-up initiatives through the co-management system of the Council of Europe youth sector.
After the study visit, the participants are able to implement their activities in Ukraine based on the values of the Council of Europe, the resources of its youth sector and network with other youth workers within Ukraine and beyond.
The context of the study visit and seminar
This study visit took place within the Framework Programme for Cooperation in the field of Youth Policy between the Council of Europe and the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Ukraine for 2021-2025. The Framework Programme has supported youth policy reforms in Ukraine and the implementation of relevant strategy programmes, notably the National Youth Strategy 2030, the State Target Social Programme “Youth of Ukraine” 2021-2025, and new legislation in the field of youth policy and youth work in Ukraine. The priorities and modes of intervention reflect the orientations of the Council of Europe Youth Sector Strategy 2030.
The programme of study visit and seminar extends the support provided to youth work in Ukraine through the project Youth for Democracy in Ukraine: Phase II.
Youth Work and the War in Ukraine
Following the armed aggressions of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, youth work stakeholders responded fast to the situation caused by the war in Ukraine by providing humanitarian aid and youth services for internally displaced young people.
The Ukrainian youth policy and youth work stakeholders have relevant experiences and outreach in these difficult times, including supporting to young people and communities affected by war traumas, internally displaced people and refugees (notably in Moldova, Poland and Romania).
The youth work sector was also directly hit by the armed aggression, with several youth centres destroyed and many youth workers facing displacement, having to leave the country and other forms of disruption of their professional activity and personal wellbeing.
Thus, Ukrainian youth workers needs not only support but also can share their experience and expertise for the Council of Europe's youth sector as well. The war in Ukraine has impact also to other youth work stakeholders and young people all over Europe who organise and deliver support to the refugees from Ukraine, namely in Moldova, Romania and Poland etc.
In the current context of continuing uncertainty and growing needs of support to young people in Ukraine, youth centres and youth work providers have also specific needs in relation to, for example:
- Support competence-development of youth workers to deal with new challenges;
- Provision of youth work for young refugees from Ukraine;
- Supporting internally displaced young people;
- Absorbing the impact of the war on the youth sector;
- Dealing with stress, trauma and risks of burn-out;
- Adopting a rights-based narrative to youth work in a context where human rights are massively ignored or violated.
The Council of Europe has been addressing some of these needs through the project Youth for Democracy in Ukraine: Phase II with a series of valuable activities. Since March the project follows the current situation in the field of youth policy and youth work in war time in Ukraine.
The activities in this project, however, can only be held online for safety reasons.
It is nonetheless important for youth workers and responsible of youth centres, especially those most exposed to the conflict and its consequences, to be able to “recharge” their motivation, develop their competences based on their recent experiences and contribute to the resilience and rebuilding of the youth work sector in Ukraine.
Aim and Objectives of the study visit and seminar
The aim of the study visit and seminar was thus to bring together youth workers and representatives of youth centres who started recently and continue provide youth work during war time in Ukraine to improve their competences to provide youth work taking into account the Council of Europe youth sector's tools and resources.
Objectives of the activity were:
- To develop participants’ knowledge about the Council of Europe as an international organisation founded to uphold human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Europe
- To acquaint the participants with the mission and activities of the European Youth Centre in Strasbourg
- To show case youth work practices in Ukraine to protect democracy, human rights and rule of law
- To develop participants competences to use Council of Europe Youth Department tools and resources for the youth work, including the European Youth Foundation and the Quality Label for Youth Centres project
- To develop relations and possible support networks with other youth centres and youth workers, including in the city of Strasbourg
- To explore, analyse and to reflect on existent forms, tools and methods of youth work at European, national and local levels, on their accessibility, efficiency for diverse environment, conditions and groups of young people in Ukraine
- To discuss current context and recent initiatives of youth centres and youth workers as respond to war in Ukraine
- To contribute to improving dialogue and cooperation among participants for developing network that sustain or strengthen youth work in Ukraine.
Learning outcomes of the study visit and seminar
Throughout their participation in the study visit and training, the participants:
- gained knowledge on different tools and resources of youth work and are able to apply them in their local context;
- learned and explored forms, tools and methods of youth work at European, national and local levels, on their accessibility, efficiency for diverse environment, conditions and groups of young people in Ukraine;
- developed their own ideas how to improve local initiatives of youth work in different conditions;
- understood the system and network of Youth sector of the Council of Europe;
- learned practically various forms of work with young people and other groups;
- shared and analysed their experiences and practices on youth work.
Methodology and main features
The program was structured in such a way that the participants were able to explore the existing instruments and resources of the Council of Europe for youth work and combine them with the realities of youth work in Ukraine in the context of war.
In this way, each participant was given space for reflection, as well as the opportunity to share the realities and the means of youth work in the current conditions of war with other participants from Ukraine, representatives of the Council of Europe, Quality-Labelled Youth Centres and Youth Centres of Strasbourg and the Council of Europe Joint Council on Youth.
In addition to meetings, presentations and discussions with experts, the participants worked in groups, as well as using the world cafe method, the living library and an assessment tool RMSOS Framework.