human development, social justice and sustainable social systems

A milestone for YoungCaritas

Youth represntation in the Executive Board

The story of the youth engagement movement in Caritas Europa started five years ago. It was during the Regional Conference in Lourdes in 2016 when young people for the first time joined Caritas directors and statutory discussions to show that they have an important role to play in our confederation. Since then, we took many more important steps: we created Georgian recommendations, had the first conference on youth volunteering and social education that was concluded with the creation of the Vienna Declaration, and we created working structures to ensure we progress in mainstreaming youth. You can see the history of the Young Caritas movement in this video.

2021 will be another historical moment for the movement for two reasons. First of all, our new Strategic Framework not only lists very specific objectives to achieve in the field of youth engagement but also aims at mainstreaming youth movement through all dimensions of Caritas work. We want to ensure that young people will be heard in all areas of our work, be represented in our governance and be part of our identity. We are also aiming at increasing our capacities in the field of youth engagement and continuously increasing opportunities for young people to get involved in the Caritas mission.

The second crucial step was taken during this year’s Regional Conference during which all Member Organisations unanimously voted for the adoption of a Young Caritas Europa Representative position in Caritas Europa Executive Board. This means the voice of young people in the network will be heard at a decision making level. She or he will bring the perspective of young people to the ExBo discussions. The perspective of young people and youth work professionals will contribute to the strategic discussions and ensure that youth engagement will be taken into account. The representative will also bring topics of importance for  young people to the ExBo’s attention and will the former informed about the processes that are happening in the CE network. The person for this position will be chosen by Young Caritas Network – youth coordinators, leaders or contact points, one from each Member Organisations. The implementation of the position will start soon after the Regional conference, so the Representative will join the Executive Board at some point this year.

Caritas Europa firmly believes that young women and men play a crucial role in building a Europe of solidarity and peace. “They are not the future of our peoples, they are the present. With their dreams and their lives they are forging the spirit of Europe.” Caritas Europa wishes to further strengthen youth engagement and active participation in all our structures and through all our actions.

Caritas Europa Strategic Framework 2021

This huge step means that Caritas Europa takes young women and men seriously and wants to give them a voice in all its governance structures. Hopefully, with this big step taken, there are many more crucial milestones ahead of us. As Chantal Zimmerman, Chair of the Youth Engagement Working Group, who started her experience in Caritas as a young volunteer, reminded us during the Regional Conference: young people are not just the future, they are our present. So now is the time to make more space for them to flourish in their mission within Caritas.

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Agnieszka Zarzynska

Institutional Development Officer
Caritas Europa

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