“We have reached common ground!” With these words, Jonas Agdur, President of the European InterCity Youth Network and the Swedish umbrella organisation KEKS, launched the European Charter on Local Youth Work. The document was developed in a participatory process involving youth workers, community representatives, associations and institutions from over 20 countries, including Switzerland.
The final version of the Charter was unveiled at the 3rd conference of the Europe goes Local project. The idea of common ground is by no means self-evident, as the reality of youth work is different in every participating country. The situations of individual countries in Europe vary widely, with some countries offering professional services with good state backing, while others have barely existent structures and no state recognition.
What local youth workers largely share are common values, principles and goals. These are set out in the Charter, which means there is now a reference document that underscores the societal importance of youth work on the one hand, and serves as a basis for more extensive cooperation in Europe on the other.
The development process in itself should not be underestimated – the discussions and shared development helped significantly increase mutual understanding between the participating institutions and individuals. The next steps are raising awareness of the Charter, translating it into various languages and creating a toolbox, which is intended to bring it to life and make it more versatile.