This toolkit has been developed in the course of the project “Empower You(th)! Training of innovative models and methods in youth work” supported by the EU programme Erasmus+. It is available as a downloadable pdf-version and an online version.
It wants to offer youth trainers a compendium of innovative approaches to youth work developed by seven diaconal organisations active in European youth work. During the project these organisations from Armenia, Belgium, Czech Republic, Italy, Kosovo, Norway, and Sweden exchanged their best practices, assessed them and thought about how each of their approaches could work in different country contexts and what would be needed for that. Those considerations are based on a research paper on diaconal youth work in Europe that was carried out by DIAK (Diaconia University of Applied Sciences, Helsinki, Finland) prior to this project (available at Eurodiaconia).
What can a volunteer centre in a multicultural neighbourhood of Oslo learn from a youth centre in Kosovo? Would a summer camp organised in northern Italy work like this also in Armenia? What are the differences between the approach to youth work in the East of the Czech Republic and the approach in Sweden?
Those were some of the questions, the project partners discussed during several events. European youth trainers not only analysed their theoretical approaches, they also discussed their practical tools – their success factors and pitfalls. This online toolkit wants to offer an insight into these discussions and invites the reader to learn more about the outcomes, learn more about theoretical & practical approaches to youth work from seven different country contexts. This toolkit is unique as it gathers approaches from different European Christian organisations beyond denominational borders in EU and non-EU countries to exchange and learn from their specific backgrounds; a spectrum on which a project solely focused on EU-countries could not deliver.
The toolkit is divided into three parts. First, it discusses societal challenges for young people in Europe today, reaching from unemployment to digitalisation, from European identity to migration. This section offers a European view of the diverse challenges young people are facing today, setting the scene for how innovative youth work can support youngsters on their way to adulthood.
Second, it will offer insights into theoretical approaches to youth work and how these models of youth work influence youth methods. The way a young person is seen by the youth worker will affect his/her actions to support that person. Concrete examples will illustrate this analysis.
Third, it offers an insight into how the participating organisations actually try to change the lives of young people to the better and what is needed for this. The reader will find information about selected methods, needed resources and also information about the implementing organisations, their size and background in order to assess if the presented methods and approaches would work also in different contexts.
The online version of the toolkit invites the reader to get active as well. You can test your knowledge about youth models, the methods presented and you are also invited to submit your own approach, your own methods to become part of this collection. Contact details of youth trainers involved in the project will make it easy to get in touch to learn more about the methods.
We hope this collection of approaches to youth work will help youth workers in Europe to get inspired and to start exchange! European youth work is about learning from each other in order to better support the future of Europe: the youth.
The project team
Miradin Bajri (Diakonie Kosova)
Tsovinar Ghazaryan (Armenia Round Table Foundation)
Petter Karlsson (Church of Sweden)
Samuele Pigoni (Diaconia Valdese)
Elisabeth Simonsen (Church City Mission Oslo)
Florian Tuder (Eurodiaconia)
Martina Vilimová (Slezská diakonie)