The president of Volonteurope, Oonagh Aitken, gave her update of the Erasmus+ Project ‘Be Part, Feel Your Part’.

Last Thursday and Friday, I joined the partners’ group of the ‘Be Part, Feel Your Part’ project in Aarhus, Denmark, for the second project meeting. The project kicked off in London in June of this year and is designed to engage with young people at risk of social exclusion and marginalisation and to sensitise them to political processes and political action. The partners come from youth work and volunteering organisations in Austria, Germany, Denmark, Portugal, Italy and the UK.

The project has a number of outcomes:
• A research report which will look at different methodologies used to engage with young people
• A training programme for youth workers
• A range of local participation programmes with young people
• A political action plan

Volunteering Matters has a number of responsibilities in the project. We are the lead partner in the production of the political action plan but fortunately, that comes right at the end of the project. We are already working with the young people who volunteer with us or who are beneficiaries of our programmes around different engagement methodologies to find out how they perceive their local area and what they would want to change. The next stage is to work on the training programme which will take place in Graz, Austria, in February 2019 and will involve 3 youth workers from each organisation who will then be expected to train a further 10 youth workers in their home country as well as get involved in local participation projects with young people and political decision-makers.

This project ticks all the boxes for me: it involves young people who do not engage in politics, it gives them a voice through local participation, it offers youth workers new methodologies of engagement and it is practical! I hope to involve many members of staff at all levels from Volunteering Matters and some of the most vulnerable and excluded young people we support – young care leavers, young migrants, young people struggling to find employment or educational opportunities. One of the really important aspects of the project is how we disseminate the results. The training programme can be available to youth workers all over the EU and the practical application of the project can potentially benefit many thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of young people.
Watch this space for more details as the project progresses!