Katie Morton: Blog from Istanbul

6 Mar 2015

The end of January saw me taking part in the “Participate to Change” conference for the Genç Hayat Foundation (Young Lives Foundation) in Istanbul, Turkey. Myself and two of the National Youth Agency Youth Advisory Mentors joined a team of people for three days looking at ways we could make Istanbul organisations more participative.

The “Participate to Change” meeting was an international event about learning from the practices of youth participation to decision-making processes and to have further discussion on its possible applications.

Two different countries participated in this meeting: UK and Turkey. The National Youth Agency shared its experience of Hear by Right. Hear by Right developed to help organisations that work with young people provide evidence of the participation level in the organisation and create a platform for more.

Istanbul only has a very small youth service, and it’s very different to the youth service we have in England. One thing that I found particularly interesting is that there are no specific qualifications for youth work and no specific background checks in place for those who work with young people.  Throughout the three days we looked at what the two different countries offered in terms of participation, how we can share our practices and possible applications of participation in Turkey.

By the end of our stay we produced a collection of new youth work values and principles of participation for Turkey to be able to adapt and work towards.

This trip was very insightful and gave us a chance to see how lucky we actually are.  It opened our eyes to the amount of youth work that is currently happening in the UK; there are countries who do not have a chance to make the changes in young peoples lives as we do and it is important to continue to support them.