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Young people – Agents of Change in Depopulating Communities

The goal of the project is to reveal the main problems young people from small municipalities are facing and to establish efficient and effective participatory public consultative process leading to the development and implementation of relevant municipal youth strategies to combat out-migration. Its objectives include:

  • establishing partnership across the community, including local government and administration, local media and local businesses and youth NGOs;
  • developing youth local strategies with participation of all main local stakeholders;
  • sharing information and dissemination of good practices regarding local youth policies, based on the lessons learned and allowing for scaling up the experience in other city districts.

Main project activities are:

  • analyzing youth challenges in 4 typical municipalities: district municipality; small municipality; municipality with Roma population; municipality with seasonal type of economy;
  • development of questionnaires and conducting questionnaire research with students in 4 Bulgarian universities in at least two cities to understand what could motivate them to return their municipalities;
  • organizing 4 local public discussions on the topic of youth policy, using the World Café format. The focus of the discussions will be how to develop a local youth policy which should target all young people at the local level;
  • facilitating the development of 4 Local Youth Strategies;
  • developing final evaluation report with good practices and challenges;
  • dissemination of the report and guidelines with good practices.

Expected project participants are youth NGOs in four municipalities, young people, local government and administration in the selected municipalities, media representatives, MPs, MEPs. The period for the implementation of the project is May – November 2010. It is funded by Balkan Trust for Democracy.

  • Survey: Realization of Students from Small and Medium-Sized Municipalities

Goal: To survey the attitudes of young people from small and medium-sized municipalities, currently enrolled in universities in Sofia and other big university centers, of whether they are inclined to settle and work in small municipalities, what their expectations and worries are, what they would like to happen in these localities.

Respondents: The survey was conducted among 151 students from 8 universities in three cities (Sofia University, Technical University, New Bulgarian University, University of National and World Economy, Veliko Tarnovo University, University of Architecture, Urban Development and Construction, Shoumen University, Theatrical College “Lyuben Groyce”) at the age of 18 – 30 years, most of them being between 18 and 25.

Survey period: 20 May – 15 June 2010 г.

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  • Good practices for youth involvement and participation in local government

 

  • Тhe first discussion the Reason Institute project “Young People – Agents of Change in Depopulating Communities

On 25 June 2010 in the City of Pernik a discussion entitled “Young People – Motor of Development of Local Communities” was held. This was the first discussion under the Reason Institute project “Young People – Agents of Change in Depopulating Communities”, funded by the Balkan Trust for Democracy. Participants in the discussion were representatives of youth organizations and student parliaments from the city, representatives of local business, representatives of trade unions and journalists from the local media. Following the opening of the event, an opinion poll was presented, which was conducted in the period 20 May – 15 June 2010. The goal of the poll was to survey the attitudes of young people from small and medium-sized municipalities, who currently study at universities in Sofia and other big university centers, whether they are inclined to settle and work in small municipalities, what their expectations are, their concerns, and what they want to happen in their local areas. A short welcoming speech was delivered by Mrs. Rositza Yanakieva, Mayor of Pernik. Keynote speaker on the topic of youth dimensions of “Europe 2020”, its goals and priorities in the sphere of youth policy, its applicability and perspective in Bulgaria, youth employment and the role of young people as a motor of development, was Christian Vigenin, member of the European Parliament. After his presentation, the participants were divided into 5 groups, which formed round tables, to discuss and propose policies and good practices on matters of importance to young people in Pernik, subsequently presented to the larger group. The goal was to encourage the active participation of young people from the Municipality of Pernik in discussing and proposing solutions to problems having to do with youth employment, education and training, housing policy, urban environment, free time, and healthcare. The generalized results, ideas and good practices generated during the debates will be submitted to the administration of the Municipality of Pernik for updating the municipal Strategy for Development of Young People.

  • On 27 September 2010 in Silistra, the second discussion was held under the Reason Institute project “Young People – Agents of Change in Depopulating Communities”, funded by the Balkan Trust for Democracy.

Participants in the discussion were representatives of youth volunteer organizations, the student parliament, NGOs, representatives of the Municipality of Silistra and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Following the opening, the goals of the project and the results of the opinion poll, which was conducted in the period 20 May – 15 June 2010, were presented. As in Pernik, the young people worked actively on the five key topics having to do with the development of the local community. They made proposals for policies and good practices on matters of importance to young people in Silistra, presented subsequently to the larger group. The generalized results, ideas and good practices generated during the debates will be submitted to the administration of the Municipality of Silistra.

  • The third consecutive discussion under the Reason Institute project “Young People – Agents of Change in Depopulating Communities”, funded by the Balkan Trust for Democracy, was held on 30 September 2010 in Kavarna.

Participants in the discussion were high school students and teachers, representatives of the Municipality of Kavarna and Reason Institute. Following the opening, the goals of the project and the results of the opinion poll, which was conducted in the period 20 May – 15 June 2010, were presented. As with the previous two discussions, the young people discussed at five roundtables key topics on the development of their local community. They made proposals for policies and good practices on matters of importance to young people in Kavarna, presented subsequently to the larger group. The generalized results, ideas and good practices generated during the debates will be submitted to the administration of the Municipality of Kavarna.

  • The fourth and last discussion under the Reason Institute project “Young People – Agents of Change in Depopulating Communities”, funded by the Balkan Trust for Democracy, was held on 8 October 2010 in Ihtiman.

Discussion participants were high school students, and representatives of nongovernmental organizations, local business, the Municipality of Ihtiman and Reason Institute. Following the opening, the goals of the project and the results of the opinion poll, which was conducted in the period 20 May – 15 June 2010, were presented. Mr. Stefan Patarov, Deputy Mayor of the Municipality of Ihtiman addressed the participants on behalf of the Municipality and acquainted the participants with the projects that are being implemented in Ihtiman. Associate Professor Svetoslav Malinov, MEP, talked about the opportunities provided by the European Union, as well as about the new 2020 strategy. As with the previous discussions, the young people were divided in five groups to discuss key topics on the development of their local community. They made proposals for policies and good practices on matters of importance to young people in Ihtiman, presented subsequently to the larger group. The generalized results, ideas and good practices generated during the debates will be submitted to the administration of the Municipality of Ihtiman.