Towards a Europe that Leaves No Youth Behind

Europe Leave No Youth Behind

Between June 2021 and April 2023, ATD Fourth World organised a European Youth Campaign to create a statement to use in public advocacy that answered the following question: “What does it mean to be a young person facing adversity in Europe today?” For over two years, approximately one hundred young people with lived experiences of poverty and exclusion gathered regularly to reflect on the unfair situations they experience on a daily basis. These young people come from different countries in Europe (Poland, Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Romania, Ireland, Great Britain, Spain, the Netherlands and France) where they are involved with ATD Fourth World projects.

“What does it mean to be a young person facing adversity in Europe today?”

In collaboration, these young people drew upon their own experiences to identify and understand the shared challenges they experience: harassment, discrimination, isolation, lack of decent work, and the impossibility of making their own choices or learning at school. They aimed to craft and communicate a common statement to the representatives of various European, national and local organisations and institutions, demonstrating the unsatisfactory nature of the current situation and the denied access to young people’s rights.

“I’m here [at the European Youth Centre in Strasbourg] to tell of how many people have suffered from harassment and discrimination. I’m here so that this doesn’t happen again.”

At the end of this campaign, 5 demands were put forward:

  1. We need the world to understand our lived experiences.
  2. We want to put an end to harassment, discrimination, and their effects on our mental health.
  3. We call for changing the dynamics in relationships with professionals to enable us to make our own choices.
  4. We need decent jobs that allow us to access all our rights.
  5. We must be able to effectively take part in social life and decision making spaces.

Each of these demands demonstrates a dysfunction in our society. These dysfunctions have serious and lasting consequences on those who experience them. These demands reflect a deep desire for justice, equality and dignity for all young people, whatever their background.

“[…] when you fear all those who you are meant to […] help, you stop asking.”

To learn more, you can read the European Youth Campaign statement, which includes the key messages and 13 proposals for a Europe that leaves no youth behind.

“I hope that [our work] will not simply be filed away in the archives but listened to.”

The knowledge and experiences of young people can inspire real change and ensure everyone is treated with dignity and respect. It is time for their voices to be listened to.

This project was part of European Year of Youth.

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