70 delegates from 31 European countries met for the first European Conference on Social Education and Young Volunteerism in Vienna. The participants of this conference came from Portugal to Belaruss, from Greece to Norway, to Vienna. The participants were invited by the “YoungCaritas in Europe” network and Caritas Europe, host and organizator of this event was the youngCaritas Vienna. This conference lasted 3 days and it was the worldwide largest meeting of young volunteerism in Caritas so far.
The goals of the Vienna Conference were: to facilitate an exchange of experience and knowledge, develop a common vision and intensify the cooperation at the European level. As well as the dealings with populism.
We believe that young people have the opportunity to stand up for solidarity and social justice
From the “Vienna Declaration on Young Caritas”
This is at the heart of our “youngCaritas strategy”. This conference, held on 21-23 November, marks the
next milestone on the way to a strong European Young Caritas.
The experiences of youngCaritas in Austria show that young people nowadays have an “enormous social interest and commitment” and thus “contradict the stereotypes of an alleged selfish generation of politically uninterested consumers,” said Caritas Austria President, Michael Landau, on the sidelines of the conference.
These are the people we seek and promote: young people who are committed to change and to the common good. We thank God there are many of them.
Michael Landau, Caritas Austria President.
An important aspect of the Conference was the “Toolkit” with 13 YoungCaritas actions. The members of the network “YoungCaritas in Europe” pass along tested and approved methods to the newly interested countries to inspire them to be involved socially. (The Toolkit for download)
As a strong and now growing European network, we can offer socially committed young people the necessary
framework to jointly make the world a better place.
Alice Uhl, leader of youngCaritas in Vienna
The exchange with colleagues from places as different as Greece, Norway, Portugal and Russia has shown how much we have in common, despite our diverse cultural backgrounds.
Agnesa Isufi, leader of youngCaritas in Vienna
A german participant, Marie Blechschmidt form the youngcaritas Speyer, discribes her impressions of the Conference as follows:
Even though the 32 european Caritas organizations, seem to be really different on the first sight, during the Conference it became clear, that we have more things in common, than we thought.
Interactive sessions gaved us the opportunity to discover the work methods and work structures of other countries. Particularly the delegate of the Tcheslovaky were amazed by our work approach: to put the interests of the teenagers above all in order to create a fitting environment for them. In some countries, like Great Britain for example, the label “youngCaritas” is not used, but they have a similar initiative and develop a lot of actions. To enhance our common values and visions was part of the workshops and sessions.
To see how inspirating communication is and how much we can learn from one another, is impressive. The work fields on site may be different but with a little help of good networking, mutual support (through exchange of experiences and common visions) the YoungCaritas in Europe network can only benefit. For example the YoungCaritas Toolkit which is a profitable support for both new and active YoungCaritas protagonists. To strengthen the community of the youngCaritas and the young people from the represented countries, is a great and necessary step from an united European Union towards an international solidarity.