On 13th and 14th May 2022, the European Youth Forum, the largest European platform coordinating and representing more than 100 organisations among IYNGOs and National Youth Councils from all over Europe, met in Brussels for its first COMEM (Council of Members) this year, gathering young people from different European realities. Don Bosco Youth-Net sent two of its youth representatives: Gabriele Giovagnoli and Sara Sechi.
Here are their testimonies:
"Although it was not my first advocacy experience, COMEM always offers surprises and interesting food for thought. During the plenaries, various members of different European youth organisations had the opportunity to discuss and debate about news concerning the Forum and the challenges of advocacy for youth rights in Europe. The tensions and concerns caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine characterised the representatives' speeches. The contribution of the Ukrainian and Belarusian representation was valuable to reflect together on the need to act more concretely to support not only these countries, but to strengthen the advocacy strategy.
COMEM was an opportunity to meet again with people known from past events, but it was particularly interesting to get to know new representatives and their stories. This occasion allowed the two representatives to network with Don Bosco Youth-Net partners and to enrich their personal and professional background. Understanding European dynamics is essential to understand what contribution young people can make to their own realities as an active part of civil society."
"The COMEM is an event that always brings with it a lot of expectations for the delegates who attend it, and on this occasion too, they were fully met. Seeing in these difficult times so many young people come together both online and, most importantly, in presence to discuss and shape together the next steps for the renewal of the Forum was a pleasant and long-awaited return "to normality".
In particular, the spirit of unity of purpose among all participants was very much perceived, even with occasional differences, as well as the vigorous desire to react and counter the challenges that destabilise the present and future of all of us young people (in particular by proposing concrete proposals towards problems such as the climate crisis, the precarious situation of youth employment, democratic and anti-civil society restrictions in some countries, etc.).
There was certainly no lack of thought for the Russian war and invasion in Ukraine, with several moments of discussion on concrete acts of solidarity to be undertaken with Ukrainian and Belarusian citizens.
All in all, it was an event that enriched me a lot, leaving me with different reflections and new ideas for the future, made me meet again old friends and made me get to know new ones, but above all, it allowed the various delegates to network together among hundreds of different realities all over Europe, helping us to strengthen together the possibilities and potentialities of us young people at local and international level.”
Thank you Gabriele for writing this article and gathering the testimonies of Sara and yourself.
Together with the migration and Human Rights network of the European Youth Forum, DBYN is working on guidelines for the inclusion of young refugees in the work and structures of youth organisations. At the COMEM (Council of members) of the European Youth Forum in Cascais, a draft of the development process of the document and a current draft was presented. Participants contributed with further inputs and best practices tackling challenges youth organisations and young refugees face in order to participate in youth organisations and engage in their decision-making bodies.
Members of the Migration and Human Rights network started to work on the guidelines in June on the Network meeting in Brussels. From there, information was collected by interviews with youth organisations and young refugees, including member organisations of DBYN. At the COMEM a summary of these interviews was presented. The final document is still in process.
Whilst this session was an important opportunity for DBYN to stay engaged in the field of Migration and Human Rights and cooperate and get in contact with organisations working on this topic, the COMEM altogether is an essential part of DBYNs advocacy work. Next to updates of current work of the European Youth Forum – e.g. the www.transparencyatwork.org webpage tackling the problem of unpaid and quality internships – it also gives space for exchange of local initiatives and work of member organisations. One of the highlights this time was the policy paper on the Erasmus+ successor programme, which is of big importance for many youth organisations and young Europeans.
asmien Beckers (first standing on the right), youth representative for DBYN participated in the first meeting of the European Youth Forum's Migration and Human Rights network. This is a short press release on the event.
On 19 and 20 June the European Youth Forum’s Migration and Human Rights Network (MHRN) held its first meeting of 2017 in Brussels. The Network focuses on promoting the social inclusion and empowerment of as well as combatting discrimination against young refugees.
Eight youth organisations participated in the meeting, some of which are joining the Network for the first time. The Network took stock of the work that has been carried out since 2015, while participants exchanged on their organisations’ initiatives and projects.
Furthermore, participants agreed on the aims of the network. Among others, the Network aims to motivate youth organisations to include young refugees within their structures, and to ensure that young refugees are involved in decision-making processes.
The two main priorities the Network identified for 2017 are:
On the occasion of World Refugee Day on 20 June, Network members participated in the conference ‘Time to be welcome: youth work and integration of young refugees’, where they showcased their projects on non-formal education, advocacy for refugee rights, empowerment and skills development and raising awareness about refugees. The joint press release from the European Youth Forum, the World Organisation of the Scout Movement and the EU-Council of Europe partnership in the field of youth who organised the conference is available here.
Since its creation DBYN joined the working group on Migration & Human Rights, which was created within the European Youth Forum to tackle youth policy issues related to this field of work. We had several of our youth representatives joining in the first meetings, and we even hosted a part of this expert group's first seminar in Vienna. After the part elections at the General Assembly of the European Youth Forum, November 2016, the YFJ decided to make this a more formal working group of the Forum. Seeing the work several of our member organisations, as well as the whole global Don Bosco Movement is doing in this field, we wanted to support this working group. Therefore we are happy to announce that our youth representative Elisabeth Graf has been selected to join the working group. Through this blog we will keep you updated on her work in this working group.
We received the news that Claire-Eline Theyskens was selected to join the European Youth Forum's expert group on Education. Claire-Eline is member of DBYN's pool of trainers, has a long standing experience as trainer for our Belgian member organisation, and is currently studying pedagogical sciences. She has finished an internship at the Collegio Don Bosco in Zaragoza. This gives her a unique expertise both in formal and non-formal education, within the Don Bosco educational style. We are convinced that her engagement will be a strong support for the European Youth Forum's efforts in strengthening European educational systems
As observer members our youth representatives were not involved in the elections of the new Advisory Council of the Council of Europe, nor voting on the resolutions proposed by the membership. We do however consider our membership a benefit for the network as we are able to exchange opinions and ideas a wide variety of youth work organisations in Europe. At this COMEM we for example learned from EEE-YFU about the "Badgecraft initiative" as online tool for working with competences, or about the "I act, for the prevention of sexual violence" of IFM-SEI, which is their newly developed campaign against sexual violence.
The next Council of Members' meeting will take place in Cascais on the 24th and 25th of November 2017.
Lilli Graf is one of the DBYN representatives. She explains what is her function as volunteer in advocacy work.
On the first anniversary of the acceptance by the United Nations of the Sustainable Development Agenda till 2030, Don Bosco Network is launching A Salesian Response to the 2030 Agenda, emphasizing the commitment of Don Bosco organizations to the advancement of “poor and abandoned youth”. The Sustainable Development Goals were signed exactly a year ago and represent a challenge for the next 15 years. Unlike the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were destined for developing countries, particularly the poorest, these apply to all countries, rich and poor. There are 17 Objectives that, with the accompanying 169 goals, constitute an agenda of progress and social transformation that will be achieved only if all stakeholders (governments, civil society, religious and private organizations) come together and work together. Don Bosco Youth-Net ivzw is one of the 18 co-signatories of this policy statement from the worldwide Don Bosco Movement.
In this blog, Don Bosco Youth-Net collects and publishes its news, VLOGS, policy statements and other information linked to our advocacy work.