Balancing the mind-set of youth work in Serbia

Balancing the mind-set of youth work in Serbia

Association “People’s Parliament” on behalf of Aid Watch Serbia Coalition

Motivating and supporting youth-serving civil society and local authorities from Serbia to get engaged with global development issues.

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Target country: Republic of Serbia
Start date and end date of the Action: 1 April – 31 December 2015
Name of Co-applicant in the Action: Slovenian NGDO platform for development cooperation and humanitarian aid – SLOGA

During nine months of the Action, we have successfully implemented following activities: 1) three capacity building seminars for youth workers from Serbian youth-serving organisations and local authorities interested in global development; 2) providing of mentoring support for youth workers; 3) organization of study visit to Slovenia and 4) promotion of the project using social media-based campaign.

92 youth workers participated in a series of 3 seminars which were all held in the city of Leskovac, Serbia. The first seminar was held in June, the second in September-October and the third in November 2015. All seminar participants came from various cities across Serbia, from different youth/youth-serving organisations and local youth offices. During those seminars participants were introduced with the EYD2015 campaign and its key messages, global development issues, the SDGs and process of their creation, and development cooperation. Also, during the seminars, the participants could hear more about opportunities for cooperation with European NGOs in the field of development cooperation, while on interactive sessions participants worked on the creation of campaigns on themes related to one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and also on the development of project ideas using the same themes. The participants were informed about opportunities to apply with their projects within Erasmus+ program, which probably is the best chance for Serbian NGOs to get involved in global development at the moment. At last, these capacity building seminars served as a tool to motivate the participants and their organisations to create new projects focused on development cooperation.

These youth workers/coordinators in local youth offices now act as multipliers of both knowledge and information by creating and conducting activities in their local communities with young people. We stayed in contact with the participants and most of them informed us that they use non-formal education activities in events, such as trainings, workshops, seminars, conferences, to present global development, global education and the SDGs to young people, but as well to inform them on opportunities for participation in activities concerning global development.

Six youth workers whom asked for additional support received help from the mentoring team in the project which gave them useful information and advice for further developing their project ideas. Organisations from Serbia could submit project proposals only for Key Action 2 within the Erasmus+ program and according to the feedback received from our participants, 2 organisations applied for September deadline. Unfortunately, in a very sharp competition their project proposals were not approved, but we received information from our participants that for the next deadline in February 2016, 4 organisations will submit their project proposals.

Also, it is important to mention that after participating in our capacity building seminars, where they could learn more about Erasmus+ program, 3 organisations got accredited for European Voluntary Service (EVS) in order to send/receive volunteers on European level.

Group of 10 youth workers participated in a study visit to Slovenia in December 2015. In the city of Ljubljana, participants visited SLOGA (Slovenian NGDO platform for development cooperation and humanitarian aid) and seven civil society organisations active in the field of development cooperation and development education. Also, participants visited Youth Centre in the city of Celje, where they learned more about the activities with young volunteers on local and international level, and on the last day, they had a meeting with local decision makers from Youth Department of Municipality of Ljubljana. All these meetings were used as a practical method for participants to learn more about global development and global education activities those organisations implement through numerous projects, but also as an opportunity to connect youth organisations from Serbia with Slovenian development NGO community and indirectly with other CONCORD members.

Regarding the project promotion, we can say that both, the target group and youth in Serbia as final beneficiaries of the project were successfully reached. We started with promotion of the activities and dissemination of the project information with public and civil sector in Serbia, and especially with the target groups, youth workers and representatives of local authorities, from the very beginning of the project. All events were promoted on People’s Parliament website (estimated 1,000 people visited the website during the project), Facebook page with 2,108 followers (mostly young people) and Twitter as well as through mailing lists and direct communication with target groups. Many Serbian NGOs which cooperate with the youth workers participating in project activities also disseminated information about global development issues via their Facebook pages and websites. Also, we initiated a social media based campaign by promoting CONCORD’s Facebook page and its contents and messages related to the EYD2015 campaign among young people in Europe. Statistics showed that in April (before the FB campaign started) CONCORD’s page had around 2,800 followers; in August, the page had more than 3,800 followers; and after the project end, the number of followers reached more than 4,500.

One of the added value of the project was to expand Aid Watch Serbia Coalition (network of Serbian CSOs interested in supporting the increase in effectiveness and transparency of the development support given to Serbia) and to inform network members about opportunities to continue cooperation with CONCORD. During the Activity, the project team visited and held 8 working meetings with members of Aid Watch Serbia Coalition regarding the network building activities and enhancement of cooperation with the Slovenian platform SLOGA. Association People’s Parliament is in constant communication with SLOGA regarding possible joint initiatives on issues with migration crisis, and besides that the cooperation with other stakeholders in the field of global development continues with the TRIALOG project titled “Western Balkans CSOs for Global Development” where People’s Parliament is one of local partners beside CONCORD and partners from Albania, Montenegro, Macedonia), Serbia and the Slovenian and Croatian national platforms. Regarding the growth of Aid Watch Serbia Coalition, we can say that during the project we received two new completed applications from organisations willing to join the network.

Since Serbia is still a developing country and a non-EU member, it was very hard for us to focus strictly on the main objectives of the EYD2015 like, for instance, “fostering direct involvement, critical thinking and active interest of Union citizens and stakeholders in development cooperation including in policy formulation and implementation”. However, by implementing our project, we have managed to motivate Serbian youth workers and youth organisations to become more interested in development cooperation and, in that way, to start shifting mind-set of youth-serving civil society from someone who receives to someone who can help others and support development elsewhere. Therefore we can say that our project contributed to the following: “…to foster among Europeans and people in developing countries a sense of joint responsibility, solidarity and opportunity in a changing and increasingly interdependent world”.