The youth response in times of crisis
The sudden and devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic turned all of our lives upside down. In this new and unprecedented reality, we had to adapt quickly and find ways to show our support and solidarity with each other. For youth organisations across Europe, their work did not stop. In fact, it became more important than ever.
Throughout this pandemic, youth organisations and civil society have been among those at the frontline of the immediate crisis helping the most vulnerable, providing key services, guidance and support. The European Youth Forum, as the biggest platform of youth organisations in Europe, has played a significant role in continuing to support our Members, reacting quickly to provide information and resources. At the same time, our work in advocating European decision-makers to recognise the needs of young people and youth organisations has become increasingly urgent, as the long-term economic and social impact of COVID-19 becomes more apparent.
So what actions did we take? We’ve taken a moment to reflect on the Youth Forum’s response to the crisis and the events of the last few months.
One of the first steps that we took was to establish spaces for our membership to share best practices and promote important initiatives. Under the unifying banner of #SeparatedbutUnited, we used our platform to share examples of how our Member Organisations and partners were leading the way in providing critical information, promoting important messages and supporting their communities. We endeavoured to provide our members with tools, resources, information and subscriptions to help them operate online in these challenging times, including an online events toolkit. We were also pleased to be able to work with the European Commission and the European Youth Foundation to identify specific funding opportunities for youth organisations in relation with the crisis.
While it was disappointing that this year’s Yo!Fest could not go ahead as planned, we were inspired to see Yo!Fest partners finding alternative ways to engage, by offering a diverse mix of online events streamed on their social media. Some of these events including the Youth Forum’s ‘Youth Mobility’ debate took place in the framework of the European Parliament’s EYE Online in May, a special online edition of the European Youth Event. We are also proud of our organisation’s first ever online Extraordinary General Assembly, that brought together our Member Organisations to take some crucial decisions on behalf of the Youth Forum.
We refuse to become the ‘lockdown generation’
The impact and long-term consequences of Coronavirus on young people mean that young generations will face serious challenges if measures are not taken now. The Youth Forum has continued to advocate on behalf of young people throughout the crisis, keeping our Members updated of progress and developments. In this critical period when the next long-term budget, the Multiannual Financial Framework, is being finalised, we have continued to monitor these processes closely and have issued reactions on the #NextGenerationEU package and the future of the Youth Guarantee. The rapidly changing circumstances for young people due to the pandemic means that investment in young generations and a commitment from Member States to build back better is crucial. The European Youth Forum produced the European Youth Blueprint to Recovery, pushing European institutions to recognise the risks young people face and to present a series of policy recommendations.
While the current health crisis and the looming economic downturn present many challenges, now is not the time for youth organisations to remain silent. We must continue to stand up for our rights and call out violations when we see them, such as our statement on misuse of emergency powers in Hungary. The issues that we work on, from sustainable development, to social inclusion and strong democracies continue to be relevant and cannot be pushed aside. Our new Separated but United blog series, written by Members of the Board, is just one way that we are exploring these ideas further.