As a platform of national youth councils and international non-governmental youth organisations, the European Youth Forum is deeply connected to youth work. All actions that are made by, with or for young people are a contribution for the personal development of these young people, but youth work is also of great importance to society as a whole. Bringing people from various backgrounds together (and targeting specific groups), for activities based on participation, social interaction and mentoring or peer support, leads to greater participation in democratic matters, social cohesion and inclusion.
Working for the recognition of youth work is saying how essential our organisations are for society as they empower young people for them to contribute positively (and on a lifelong perspective) to society. It’s also recognising the value of non-formal education, volunteering and experiences such as mobility and intercultural learning.
Besides advocating for necessary funding, we have to continue on proving the validity of youth work’s pedagogies and realisations. As we witness a clear professionalisation of the sector, a growing emphasis put on evidence-based youth work, and more and more collaboration with other stakeholders, it seems obvious that youth work is becoming more and more visible. But this visibility isn’t the same within the large population and policy makers. The latter have yet to be convinced that youth work is not last-resort action facing lacking social policies. The demand for youth work is increasing as well as expectations and we’ll have to make sure that youth workers’ purpose and mission don’t disconnect from expected outcomes (often related to specific policies and funding).