European Success Story: Youth Work Ireland

Posted on 22 Nov 2018
Youth Work Ireland

Above: Youth Work Ireland’s CoOp Project Meeting in Dublin

This European Success Story was kindly provided by Anne L’henoret, Development Manager at Youth Work Ireland.

About Youth Work Ireland

Youth Work Ireland works to develop the potential of young people and strengthen communities in Ireland through the provision of quality youth services. It is the largest youth organisation in the country. Its 21 Regional Member Services deliver a unique Integrated Youth Service Model.

How did Youth Work Ireland start their European journey?

Youth Work Ireland has been working for some time with a number of other leading European youth organisations to create opportunities for exchange visits and learning. The programmes we are involved in empower young people, youth workers and volunteers to jointly tackle issues that affect all European youth. European funding generates unique possibilities for invaluable sharing of best practice and innovation in youth work.

The last significant project we completed was the Erasmus+ Key Action 2 project, ‘Youth Work Music & Cultural Entrepreneurship. Through a partnership with other Youth NGOs from Lithuania, Iceland and various parts of the UK, an online toolkit on how to use music as a tool for engaging and retaining young people in youth services was created, as well as an online community of other youth services from across Europe that use music.

Many of our Regional Member Youth Services also get involved in our European projects, in particular Youth Exchanges, but also larger projects involving Youth Worker Mobility. 

What European projects does Youth Work Ireland currently have?

Youth Work Ireland’s primary source of EU funding is through Erasmus+ for Youth Work, though we have also availed of Causeway funding in the past.

We are currently the leading partner in the project, ‘Skill IT for Youth’, which aims to develop youth workers’ digital skills, so as to in turn enhance young peoples’ digital skills, employability, and life skills. ‘Skill IT’ involves Poland, Romania, Norway and several Irish partners.

We are also partners in a project led by our Norwegian partners called ‘CoOp - Cooperate to Operate’, which promotes corporate social responsibility between youth non-profits and businesses, in particular SMEs. The ‘CoOp’ consortium includes partners from Greece, Romania and Poland.

What Youth Work Ireland project would you like to spotlight in this European Success Story?

Our Erasmus+ KA2 project, CoOp – Cooperate to Operate,  is proving to be extremely invaluable, not only to Youth Work Ireland and its 21 Regional Member Services, but also to many other youth organisations, public bodies, and business partners in Ireland:

Through the research phase of the project we engaged with over 20 youth organisations and a dozen SMEs as well as The Wheel, the National Youth Council of Ireland, and other stakeholders. In our first major project event, we engaged with the Department of Business Enterprise and Innovation/CSR Hub, Chambers Ireland, the Irish Association of SMEs, Maynooth University, and other stakeholders. Our free weeklong training course for 5 youth workers was oversubscribed in Ireland by 200%, therefore proving the relevance of this project and the value the youth sector as whole feels it is providing.

It meets a number of our organisation’s strategic aims, in particular:

  • Creating more opportunities and bridging inequalities for young people in Ireland especially in terms if employability, education and life skills,
  • Upskilling our staff and volunteers as well as generally promoting professional  learning for same throughout the sector,
  • Advocating for the impact and the economic value of youth work to be better recognised in the private sector and among the general public,
  • Supporting our Regional Member Services to diversify their funding and become more financially resilient.

Our partners bring a wealth and breadth of knowledge and experience. They specialise in different areas that each add strength to the project, including entrepreneurship, communications, digital media, business consultancy, research, training, and academia. Together we are able to build more effective and impactful outputs with impact across multiple sectors.

What are Youth Work Ireland’s plans for European funding going forward?

We have just applied for a project at the October 2018 deadline for Erasmus+ and are hoping for a positive result!

We are regularly approached by organisations from all over Europe to enter new strategic partnerships for EU funding, which reflects both our well-known commitment to European cooperation and our reputation as strong project partners.

We want to continue maximising the benefits of EU funding to develop our youth workers, service managers and volunteers’ skills; create opportunities for young people to travel, learn and discover other cultures; and advocate for quality youth work and equal opportunities for all young people.

What would you tell people thinking of pursuing EU funding?

We would absolutely recommend engaging with EU funding. There are so many opportunities to be accessed for discovery and learning for participants, whether they be staff, volunteers or beneficiaries, not to forget individual development – both professional and personal.

Newcomers to EU funding can expect a steep learning curve. It pays to be organised and to perform risk assessments, both for one’s own organisation and together with the potential partners. It is advisable to start with a modest short-term project to gain the relevant new skills in terms of project administration, allowing plenty of time for both the application and the reporting process. It also makes sense to have at least one partner who is experienced within the consortium, or to engage the help of an experienced project manager or consultant.