Let’s get them working! Impressions from the Contact Making Event (28.11 – 6.12.2015)
Back in December 2015 we had the pleasure to host in Birmingham yet another mobility supported by the UK National Agency through the ERASMUS+ Programme. This time, wishing to develop some new future partnerships, we decided to implement a Contact Making Event with representatives of EU countries, Western Balkans and Eastern Europe and Caucasus.
The mobility was a truly international gathering of fellow youth workers, trainers, facilitator, youth leaders, entrepreneurs and youth activists from 15 different countries!
The very project was aimed at bringing together stakeholders interested in developing networks and joint future projects with the view to addressing issues of youth unemployment. Having successfully completed the mobility, we are proud to report that the activity reached its expected objectives, these being:
– discussing the topic of youth unemployment around Europe so as to understand its short and long term negative effects on young people – already on the second working day participants were invited to share their own country realities when it comes to the theme. This was done by creating a joint SWOT analysis of young Europeans, viewed from the perspectives of countries represented. Although the workshops only managed to scratch the surface, participants did notice clear patterns of similarities when it comes to negative consequences of youth unemployment. Outcomes of the exercise were hence later used as the basis for future projects planning.
– exploring the themes of creativity and entrepreneurship in the context of combating youth unemployment – the objective was tackled indirectly via: individual creative workshops and discussions, inviting participants to entrepreneurial games e.g. Market of Skills and Young Entrepreneurs in Action. For description of the methods please refer to the mobility script.
– facilitating networking between partner organisations engaged in the project so as to create stronger and trust-based bonds for the future – networking was initiated with the NGO Market in the morning of day 3. Here participants learnt e.g. who are the potential partners represented in the project, what their profiles are – mission/vision, target groups, main activities, who are the partners they are looking for etc. Following the market, informal networking continued and became the backbone of the remaining part of the mobility.
– exchanging best practices in the fields of youth employability and supporting the development of employability skills – as part of the meeting participants were offered space and time to s
hare best practices from their countries. This was mainly done as part of ongoing workshops where participants were encouraged to bring in their own examples. So as to increase the value as well as to disseminate
information further, sharing was also combined with the study visits to SYDNI Community Centre in Leamington Spa.
– developing capacities to prepare and implement high-quality, sustainable youth projects with long lasting impact – significant amount of time was devoted to both discussing elements of quality projects and partnerships, we well as developing knowledge and skills in these domains.
– promoting and facilitating the use of the local and international funds (e.g. Erasmus+) in supporting young people’s development – as part of CME ERASMUS+ was introduced to the group as a potential funding stream for the future projects. The discussion turned out to be much needed and interest in it far surpassed our expectations. Hence, adapting to the group’s needs, the whole working day was devoted to: analysing the Programme structure, main opportunities, timelines, application forms, flagging up any issues of concern, etc.
– developing ideas and strategies for the future joint projects to be carried out by the partner promoters – the last 2 days were devoted entirely to brainstorming and drafting potential future ideas. Here, a number of creative approaches to addressing youth unemployment were designed.
All in all, this was a very successful mobility, which allowed us to get to know the partners further (we cooperated with some of them for the first time!). We are proud of the achievements and agreements reached regarding potential future cooperation. Based on these, we hope to be submitting new ERASMUS+ projects in the near future.
And….here is what participants themselves think about the mobility and what they’ve learnt:
– I got inspiration in continuing to work with social projects an I met people I would like to work with in the future. For a long time I had a self-block that I believed in a lot of stereotypes about other cultures. Now I see that I met wrong people [before].
– I discovered that there are many ways of dealing with problems; you don’t have to obligatorily work with the problem directly, you can work around it, this way solving it slowly, but effectively.
– Being one of the older participants, I realised how my needs and competences have changed in comparison to when I was the same age of the younger participants. Furthermore, I once more learned how precious it is to meet people from different cultural backgrounds.
– Learnt about new NGOs for future cooperation, met new people, established new contacts, made friends, found active partners for discussions and designing new projects, learnt about youth attitude (by observing participants).
– On personal level: listening without tendency to interrupt, ways of facilitating workshops (well done Basia!), new tools, new experiences, both social and cultural; Re other people: their attitudes, ways of thinking, friendly experience, other cultures similarities (striking!).
– Time management, getting to know new cultures (Armenia), improved my spoken English, practiced other languages, picked up knowledge on youth attitude towards projects, employability, active participation.
– The CME fully met my expectations. I expecting to gain new contacts/partners for future cooperation which I basically did. During the CME we worked on several project ideas which could be possibly developed further and grow into real projects. On the other hand, I was expecting to learn about other countries’s realities in terms of youth unemployment and learn some new methods and techniques which I fully accomplished.
– The intercultural component of the project is indeed very important. I fully enjoyed the CME in terms of learning about new countries, cultures of other participants. It was my first (big) experience of participation with the Balkan countries. It was extremely enriching and gave me food for thought to research these countries and their cultures.
– I learned several interesting things during the CME. I am more particularly interested to fully explore the topic of coaching, mentoring, Dragon’s Dreaming, NLP, etc.
– Methods and techniques fir effective facilitation. Good understanding of ERASMUS+ opportunities and good networking.
– Upgrading my previous skills in general. I will be using these to further improve and complete the organisational competences.
– Myself: I can do important things, but for that I need motivation. Such events are the best sources of it. People: they are just great! Cultures: it is difficult to even enumerate new things which i learned from my international friends about their cultures.
– Project management: though it was only an introduction to PM, it inspired me to learn more about it and develop in this direction. Interpersonal skills and self-esteem: it will help me communicate confidently with people and not to doubt my possibilities. Intercultural awareness: cultures differ, people differ, opinions differ but together we are able to bring up important questions and find solutions to problems.
– I learnt new techniques for motivating participants to take part in the whole mobility more actively. Also, it was interesting to see how it is possible to make participants to own the project from the very beginning through ‘disciplines’ method.
– I learned that each person is an individual and this individuality is visible mainly when it comes to team work, that’s why I have practised people skills, tolerance and cooperation. I have also discovered that I have some qualities I wasn’t aware of before and I’m eager to develop them.
– I learnt a lot about people from Eastern European countries and their cultures. I had never had contact with people from these countries and got really surprised in a positive way.
– I learnt that unemployment is all around, not only in my country. I am more prepared now to face the problem and manage projects that can help in some way.