This year we in Léargas celebrate 30 years of managing international programmes on behalf of the European Commission and the Irish Government, including the Erasmus+ Youth in Action programme. You may have heard of Erasmus+, but did you know that since 2014 over €500,000 has been awarded to arts organisations using non formal learning methods to address social issues around Ireland? Here are just a few examples of how young people all over the country are reaping the benefits of collaborating at international level:
So, you may be wondering, how can our group get involved? Or you may already have a project idea, but then shuddered at the thought of lengthy application forms and European bureaucracy! But fear not, for I have recently taken on the role of Inclusion officer with Erasmus+ Youth in Action here in Léargas. My job is to help you access the programme, answer those burning administrative questions, and offer support in getting over application hurdles. So now that you know help is at hand, why not take a closer look at what is possible? I’ll explain the project types below, and give you some links to explore the deep impact that such projects have had on young people and youth workers in the arts area in Ireland.
You can carry out a lot of different kinds of project under Erasmus+, but the three main types are called ‘Key Actions’. These are often shortened to ‘KA1’, ‘KA2’ and ‘KA3’. Broadly speaking, KA1 is about mobility (people going to another country); KA2 is about partnership between organisations in Europe; and KA3 is about dialogue between young people and decision makers. The first step for you is to decide what type of activity would suit your group or organisation best:
KA1 Youth Exchanges allow young people aged 13-30, from at least two different countries, to carry out a series of workshops, discussions, fun activities and sharing of cultures over five to 21 days. The activities are supported by youth workers.
KA1 European Voluntary Service allows young people aged 18-30 to volunteer in another European country for between two and 12 months. For young people with fewer opportunities the placement time can be reduced to between two weeks and two months. Irish organisations can take the opportunity to host an EVS volunteer too!
KA1 Youth Worker Mobility supports the professional development of youth workers. You can host international training courses on a particular methodology, host a seminar to discuss topics of interest, organise some job shadowing or arrange contact-making events.
KA2 Strategic Partnerships are longer-term projects, carried out with international partners and lasting between six months and three years. They focus on organisational cooperation and networking to develop innovative practices, share best practice and/or create outputs to benefit the non-formal education sector.
KA2 Transnational Youth Initiatives are projects initiated, set up and carried out by young people. They give young people aged 13-30 an opportunity to carry out a project with a European partner on a topic or theme they are passionate about, and that affects either themselves or the community they live in. Check the Léargas blog for an example involving young people from Wexford and Italy!
KA3 Structured Dialogue is the only part of Erasmus+ Youth in Action that can be carried out on a purely national, rather than international, basis. It takes the form of meetings, conferences, consultations and events to promote the active participation of young people in democratic life, through meetings between young people and decision makers on topics or issues affecting young people. Dermot O’Brien from NYCI writes about their ‘Youth Empowerment for Political Participation’ project on our blog.
So: where to next? I would invite you to visit our website to find out more about funding, to look at currently funded projects, and read our ‘how to’. Sign up to our newsletter for updates on developments and training opportunities. Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook to keep up to date and connect with other projects. Take five minutes to read some blogs giving you a flavour of what others have done.
Once you’ve decided to get involved, Léargas can support you to attend international training events organised through the SALTO Youth network. We also offer application clinics prior to the three annual deadlines for the programme (usually February, April and October), where we help you make sense of the application forms and process. And I’m at the end of the phone or email if you have any questions or want to set up a meeting to talk about your project ideas. I’m excited to hear what you’ll come up with!