Blog By Abigail Gyakye

European Youth Forum Blog

Attending the European Youth Forum Academy as a Foundation delegate was an invaluable experience! Since 2018, the Academy hadn’t been able to take place in person, so being able to participate alongside members from both International Youth Councils and International Non-Governmental Organisations presented an incredible opportunity to meet, learn, network and discuss best practices. Outside of the sessions, we were afforded the opportunity to explore the natural beautiful surroundings and wind down in the evenings during social gatherings.

The European Youth Forum (EYF) is the largest platform of youth organisations in Europe, representing over 100 youth organisations, which bring together tens of millions of young people from all over Europe. The European Youth Forum works to empower young people to participate actively in society to improve their lives and advocate for their rights. It promotes youth participation, making young people catalysts for positive change and contributors of innovative solutions to Europe’s challenges. 

The 3-day event aimed to strengthen the overall organisational and advocacy capabilities of the participating member organisations, with a specific focus on improving diversity and inclusion. The sessions and trainers were carefully selected to address the interests and needs of its membership organisations, with some sessions helping delegates deepen our knowledge about topics we were already familiar with, while other sessions introduced new concepts and skills.

The Academy featured sessions focusing on:

  •  Policy & Institutions
  • Campaigning & Communication
  • Personal skills development
  • Fundraising

Session Highlights

Organise an event that leaves no young people behind: The session’s objective was to better understand poverty and exclusion and, with this understanding, discuss the solutions that include young people in conversations about overcoming these barriers. 

Beyond EU: The objective of this session was to enhance our ability to connect with strategic stakeholders beyond the EU and develop fundraising skills by providing practical insights and strategies.

Communication styles: Languages of connection: This session delved into the various ‘languages’ we speak and the many ways to communicate. We discussed how experimenting with these communication options can inevitably improve how we communicate with each other.

Creating an inclusive selection process: Similar to earlier discussions around diversity, this session focused on raising awareness about the importance of inclusive practices within our organisations and the ways in which we can develop the capacity to identify the key areas of improvement in selection processes. Furthermore, it provided us with practical tools and strategies for inclusive selection processes to empower and drive change in our organisations.

Youth Rights: This session offered a platform to exchange lessons learned, common concerns and challenges encountered when advocating for youth rights and social and economic inclusion. It allowed us to collectively map out a path forward. 

Key Takeaways

Throughout the event, diversity and inclusion was a theme consistently highlighted, with multiple sessions focusing on ways organisations can be more inclusive, both within the organisation itself and with the work we do externally. This aspect of the Academy particularly stood out to me and was a key factor in my wanting to attend. As I expected, there were a range of key takeaways from these sessions and strategies for delegates to take back and promote internally.

Another highlight of the Academy was the opportunity to meet, network and work alongside like-minded organisations who differ in their approach to youth work. This allowed for great conversations and learnings to take place as every delegate brought diverse perspectives. The members of the EYF emphasised that each discussion was taking place in a safe space which encouraged everyone to freely share and learn from one another. This honest and open dialogue undoubtedly enriched the overall experience.

Lastly, the final session allowed members to reflect on the previous three days of the Academy with an interactive ‘post it note’ exercise. We were all invited to provide feedback on our favourite elements of the Academy, and it was great to see a wide range of perspectives and insights shared. 

Abigail Gyake is a Licensing and Compliance Officer at The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation.

For more information about the European Youth Forum, please visit: Representing Europe’s youth | European Youth Forum