From June 10 to 16, la Fundación Catalunya Voluntària had the privilege of hosting a group of 11 people, including top representatives of 4 municipalities of Georgia (Chkhorotsku, Akhmeti, Poti and Borjumi) and the directors of 3 non-profit, non-governmental entities of the country (Academy for Peace Development- APD, Coalition for Social Reform and Hub-3rd Sector).
The study visit, coordinated by the FCV, had a very specific objective: to introduce the services, structures, tools and mechanisms that work best in order to favor and reinforce the active participation of young people in the decision making and in the set of initiatives organized by the local public administration in Barcelona and in L’Hospitalet de Llobregat.
The group visited a total of 6 places, 5 in Barcelona (Casa del Mar, the Coordinator of Entities of Poble Sec, Espai Jove Fontana, Albareda Cultural Center and Youth Information and Advice Center of Ciutat Vella) and one in l’Hospitalet de Llobregat (Espai Jove de l’Hospitalet), where they met with representatives of various centers, such as the Resource Center for Youth Associations-CRAJ and the Youth Council of Barcelona, with the aim of better understanding the functioning of these structures, their reason for being, priorities, challenges, as well as the systems for the joint management, both public and private, of these municipally owned public services.
On June 12, two representatives of the Department of Active Democracy and Decentralization of the City of Barcelona participated in the visit and presented the rules of local participation and the various types of citizen initiatives. They informed the group about the processes and participation bodies, including the innovative initiative ‘Decidim’, created by the Barcelona City Council and which is currently an international benchmark in terms of citizen participation processes.
On June 13, we visited the Espai Jove de l’Hospitalet, where the group got to know the results of the public youth policies presented to them by the policies’s technical and political leaders, the third deputy mayor and head of Youth, Mr. Cristian Alcázar, as well as the director of the principal organization for youth mobility that exists in Catalonia: the Center Europe Jove, Mrs. Marta Rodríguez and the person responsible for mobility, Ms. Dalia Moretto.
On Saturday, June 15, the activities included participating in the Entity Fair of Poble Sec, which celebrated the 150th anniversary of the neighborhood, as well as visiting a casteller gathering at the Montjuïc Castle.
Throughout the visit, the group counted on the support and accompaniment of a group of 9 people, from Barcelona and from Hospitalet de Llobregat, 6 of whom are volunteering, doing their internship or working in the FCV and 3 people who participated and helped to organize the visit by carrying out some of the activities and accompanying the group through the different neighborhoods and places in the city.
The visit was very well evaluated by the whole group. To the question “what have you learned?” The visitors responded: “we have learned new approaches to the participation of young people, new methods and services for them”; “My impression of the visit is very positive, I have a lot of motivation to improve the lives of young people”; “I have gained practical experience on how to increase the motivation of young people to participate”; “I have learned many things, almost everything we have seen here is innovative for our reality”; “I want everything we have seen here to happen in my country”, etc.
For their part, the Catalan group also evaluated the activity very positively and said that it helped them to better understand the existing resources for the youth in their own city, as well as the situation of young people in Georgia from the point of view of the local authorities of the country.
The visit is part of the KA2 project ‘Empower for Change’, for the development of innovation in working with young people. A two year project that is coordinated by APD thanks to the support of the Erasmus + program of the European Commission. The project aims to create new structures and services for Youth in Georgia, focused on their active participation in decision-making and using as a valid reference the experience and knowledge that the cities of Barcelona and Hospitalet de Llobregat have accumulated over the years.
For more information about the project, about the visit and its results, as well as about partner organizations and collaborators, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org (Lluc).