Connecting national processes at European level enriches the approaches for individuals working in their respective national youth work fields. The second Exchange Forum - that took place from 10 to 12 May 2023 in Germany - brought together 50 participants from 27 countries. They used the opportunity to further develop the cooperation between the national processes and to continue the building of support for organisations and institutions, to be able to implement a successful Bonn Process. The common purpose of the Exchange Forum ultimately is to make youth work stronger and develop it further.
Manfred von Hebel, Deputy Head of JUGEND für Europa, National Agency for the EU programmes Erasmus+ Youth, Erasmus+ Sport and European Solidarity Corps in Germany, officially opened the Exchange Forum with a warm welcome.
Milestones in youth work
The Exchange Forum included a number of inputs from the European level, including Jacob Kornbeck, Policy Officer for the European Commission, László Milutinovits from the EU-Council of Europe Youth Partnership and Barbara Schmidt dos Santos from JUGEND für Europa, National Agency for the EU youth programmes in Germany, that served to update, inform, and remind the participants of the milestones that have been reached since the 3rd European Youth Work Convention.
Furthermore, Dr Frederike Hofmann-van de Poll presented first findings of a survey that had been conducted in preparation for the Exchange Forum to get a more in-depth overview of the state of play of the Bonn Process at national levels. The findings included insights into current developments of the Bonn Process and its instruments at national level, but also needs of further support and challenges that stakeholders are coming across while implementing the European Youth Work Agenda.
Completing the picture: national developments around Europe
The participants had an opportunity to map their connections to the highlighted milestones. This created a picture of the activities happening at local, regional, and national levels – but primarily at national level – and so provided a bigger picture of what is happening around Europe at all levels.
Some of the achievements shared by the participants included the establishment of a working group for the European Youth Work Agenda in Slovakia, a strategy developed to promote the Bonn Process in Bulgaria, and in Ukraine, organisations have met with the Ministry responsible for youth to talk about the further recognition of youth work.
Challenges and how to overcome them
The participants were able to propose and explore challenges they are facing in their work and how to overcome these challenges. Discussions focused on how Bonn Process achievements can be measured, on the need (or not) for communicating regarding the Bonn Process to grassroots youth workers, and on how to strengthen communication and outreach about the Bonn Process in general. A number of other challenges raised focused more broadly on youth work; youth work and the law, setting up national level working groups to support youth work, quality standards, and the measuring of good practice.
The Exchange Forum also provided a focus on cooperation within the eight thematic areas of the European Youth Work Agenda. Participants met and connected to cooperate and further develop ongoing communication linked to the different thematic areas. Through this the Exchange Forum was able to end with participants making commitments within the different thematic areas.
Under the thematic priority area “promotion and recognition”, some participants committed to working together to do research on the impact of youth work. Under the priority “a common direction for the youth work community of practice”, participants from twelve countries signed up to support the establishment of national youth workers associations in countries where they don't exist. In the priority area “quality development”, other participants committed to an exchange of good practice in connection with quality assurance in youth work. And under the priority “a strategic framework for youth work development”, participants committed to pursue bilateral cooperation and plan for a study visit.
The report of the Exchange Forum and the conducted survey is published here.