Final Declaration of the European Youth Work Convention: What’s in it for Scouts?
In late 2020, the third edition of the European Youth Work Convention took place, bringing together more than 1000 participants from all over Europe, from local, national and European levels. Scouting, as a volunteer-led youth organisation, had a seat alongside other professional youth work structures.
The initiative, strongly promoted by the German EU Presidency, led to a Final Declaration that sets out guidelines and suggestions for the implementation of a strong European Youth Work Agenda (EYWA). The common effort of putting the EYWA into action through concrete measures and activities at all levels, is called the Bonn Process. It is shaped by the youth community of practice to boost youth work development across Europe.
The Final Declaration seeks to provide guidance for the Bonn Process but needs to be complemented by the active involvement of the youth work community in Europe. Youth organisations should be perceived as a major stakeholder in the process.
Being part of the European youth sector, we Scouts, need to look at the declaration through our volunteer-led structure lenses.
In this perspective, the Declaration certainly provides useful recommendations to ensure the operationalisation of the European Youth Work policy agenda. Some of these recommendations are relevant to Scouting. For example, there is a meaningful focus on youth work research and recognition, that can be aligned with our regional effort related to measuring the impact of Scouting. There is also a clear definition of common standards for youth work curricula and the recognition of volunteer youth workers as valuable educational providers. It also includes a strong call to increase the accessibility to sustainable sources of funding for youth organisations.
On the other hand, the Final Declaration sets a strong focus on professional youth workers and their specific needs in terms of training and professional recognition. Scout Organisations should monitor any common frameworks for the training of youth workers that could be developed as a follow-up, thus to ensure its suitability to volunteer scout leaders and training of adults in Scouting.
Similarly, the focus on quality is mainly around youth workers’ training and does not involve the importance of the educational youth programme which is also a key aspect of the quality insurance scheme in Scouting.
Fedde Boersma, Director Scouting Nederland, attended the event as a participant. From a national perspective, he pinpointed that the Final Declaration turned out to be very broad, which offers an opportunity for Scouts at the national level to make volunteering youth work more visible.
“Due to the pandemic, voluntary youth work became more prominent in the Netherlands. Thanks to a strong advocacy campaign to re-open our Scouting activities, we have been in close contact with the youth ministry and other national organisations. We are invited to participate in strategic meetings to share our perspectives about the role of volunteers in any Covid-19 recovery strategies.” He explained.
“Thanks to our evolving presence, we notice that other organisations, educational institutions and professionals consider us as a partner. I can say that Scouting and voluntary youth work are part of the process, by simply having a seat at the decision-making table. Therefore, it is important to expand the definition of youth work and recognize that both professional and volunteer youth workers bring as much added value to the youth work sector.” He then added.
One concrete outcome of the the final Declaration will be the creation of National Youth Work working groups. Therefore, it would be important for National Scout Organisations to be included in any follow-up discussions in order to co-shape the rules and frameworks related to its implementation. This Declaration can also be a useful reference in your advocacy work to ensure further recognition and investment in youth organisations by local or national authorities.