Representing youth work in the UK at the European Confederation of Youth Clubs

11 July 2023

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Recently, UK Youth represented youth organisations and youth work in the UK at the European Confederation of Youth Clubs (ECYC) General Assembly in Porto.

In this blog we share what ECYC is, and the role of the organisation, what we discussed, and future plans!

The European Confederation of Youth Clubs (ECYC) represents a European network of youth work and youth club organisations that practice and promote open youth work and non-formal education. With 23 nationally represented organisations in 20 Council of Europe member states, reaching 1.8 million young people, the organisation has at its heart the supporting of youth clubs and other forms of neighbourhood youth work. You can find more information about ECYV and its members on their website.

The vision of ECYC is to empower young people through open youth work and non-formal learning in order to promote democratic and civil society and to encourage young people to be actively involved in their communities across Europe.

Involving young people and helping them participate actively in their community is the leading principle of Open Youth Work as delivered by ECYC members. ECYC uses open youth work and non-formal education methods in providing young people with the skills and knowledge to make their own informed decisions.

ECYC is run by an elected volunteer ‘bureau’ that includes a President, three Vice Presidents and a Treasurer from youth work organisations across Europe.

The General Assembly (GA) was held at FNAJ, the Portuguese youth work organisation in Porto. The GA involves the formal business of the organisation, including updates from the volunteer members of the bureau on recent work, updates on projects that are ongoing across ECYC, representation to the European Youth Forum, and funding of ECYC as an organisation. Member organisations are invited to vote on key agenda items, raise any questions, and input on opportunities and challenges facing the organisation.

As part of the GA event, we had the opportunity to visit both Gaia Youth House, and Porto Youth House. Both houses provide space for young people to come in and use when they are open, providing a range of services and spaces. The structure is set up so that young people can launch youth associations working on specific issues and get involved in civil society projects, it was interesting that this form of youth work showed less of the culture of the typical evening youth club social space that we might expect in the UK. 

We also received a presentation from a youth worker in Portugal on youth participation, particularly around effective dialogue and citizenship. The organisation ran a range of programmes, including as citizenship labs on thematic discussions, and a city council and assembly programme where young people were able to take their ideas to government.

We held workshops mainly centring on discussion sessions for people to learn from each other, the first was on Headspace, an Australian concept which has been well used in the Nordic countries. The discussion focused around how we can provide space for mental wellbeing and support within traditional youth work practices. We also had a workshop on entrepreneurship and active citizenship in youth work, and how this can be encouraged and supported at all levels across a country. It was great to hear examples of best practice to inform our work, but also share fantastic projects and initiatives from here in the UK.

UK Youth represented youth organisations and youth work in the UK at the European Confederation of Youth Clubs (ECYC) General Assembly in Porto.

The next General Assembly of ECYC will be held in the Autumn, creating a similar opportunity for learning and sharing of best practice across Europe, as well as create space for developing advocacy on youth work on a European level. Keep an eye out for future updates on our work with ECYC, and if you have anything you would like to share that impacts youth work on a European scale please do let us know!

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