Front page on perspectives for youth work

with young refugees


The situation of young refugees in Europe is critical in regards to their access to human rights, their participation and their status when they turn 18. Youth work needs support in terms of capacity or funding, coalition building and having a voice in discussions concerning young refugees.

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Imagine doing the exercise of “Front page”, where participants have to identify the most important headlines regarding a situation. Imagine you did this exercise in relation to the situation of young refugees. What are your headlines? Now, imagine the same exercise on the topic of youth work with young refugees. How much do we know about youth workers working with young refugees?

I will try to make this exercise from the perspective of the Youth Department of the Council of Europe. A few words first about the organisation. The Council of Europe is a European intergovernmental institution promoting human rights, democracy and the rule of law with 47 countries. Its Youth Department works with governments to develop youth policies and it works also on support for youth work, mainly through education and training activities for youth organisations.

Their voices are not heard in the discussions

If we were to write a front page on the main issues young refugees face, the first title would be access to human rights and social inclusion. The situation of young refugees in Europe today is very difficult. The second title would be participation and having a voice. This means that as the situation stands, the solutions for young refugees to have a good life in Europe are often not found together with the young refugees themselves. Their voices are not heard in the discussions. Another headline would definitely be turning 18: where do we go from here? This title refers to the situation of young refugees turning 18, where their legal status changes from children to adults. This is where a young refugee stops having certain protections and receives very little support to make their transition to adult life and autonomy.

Let’s move now to the second part of the exercise. So, what are our headlines? First of all, there are many youth work projects and organisations working with young refugees on their rights and on resilience. Our role as Youth Department is to support the capacity of these projects to do the work and also to enlarge the issues they work on. One example is youth work with young refugees that offers information about social rights

Second of all, the role of youth work is also to make European societies aware about everyone’s dignity and equality in rights. For example, youth organisations speak up against discrimination and racism which affect young refugees. Through activities such as the Living Library or through the campaign No Hate Speech Movement, we see many organisations uniting to pass the message of dignity and non-discrimination.

Last headline, young refugees have a space of their own where to meet in the Council of Europe. We have 2 residential training centres where youth organisations hold their seminars and one of example here is the kick-off of the Voices of Youth Refugees in Europe network, who started its work in our European Youth Centre in Strasbourg.

For the future, the Youth Department will continue to support youth work with young refugees through training and education activities. We are currently starting a project on stories of young refugees, to pass the message of the importance to work with young refugees and accompany them in their transition to autonomy.

Hot Issue_CoE_Author Mara

by Mara Georgescu (2016)

Mara Georgescu is an educator and trainer on human rights education and social inclusion, working as educational advisor in the Youth Department of the Council of Europe.


© Council of Europe/No Hate Speech Movement,  VYRE

© Council of Europe/No Hate Speech Movement, VYRE


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