The YMCA YWCA Staff Conference was held near Stockholm, Sweden, from the 27th of April to the 1st of May 2022.
YMCAs of Belarus, Czech Republic, England & Wales, Finland, Germany, Malta, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine came together to share best practices, experiences and plans for the future. In addition to Emma Osmundsen – our President, five members of the staff represented the YMCA Europe.
“Definitely the group discussions were the highlight, but also the overall possibility to meet other staff members. As a young person who started working at the Y during the pandemic I haven’t had that many chances to actually meet people so I am extremely thankful for the opportunity”
The key focus of the Conference was Sustainable Impact with subtopics of
- Health and
We believe that the YMCA has great potential to create a big impact and to be resilient and sustainable in the process. We believe that Relevant services for people, a Healthy approach towards organisational and personal development, a Committed attitude to our values and the work we do – can become moving engines for many YMCAs and people serving there.
Education, motivation and networking were the key objectives of the event. The programme incorporated interactive devotions, workshops and seminars, plenary sessions, group discussions, sports and side-meetings, evening recreational time.
“Emma’s speech on the last whole day really got me thinking about offering opportunities to young people. I am definitely going to begin to view young people as the leaders of today and not tomorrow and support their growth as leaders. And most of all, I’m going to listen, listen to the people who are going to shape our organisation and all its activities to a direction that is forward thinking, interesting and supports sustainable development”
The first planning meeting took place in autumn 2019. The Conference had to happen in autumn 2021. Due to the pandemics the Conference was prepared in the mood of great uncertainty.
The planning team postponed it several times and discussed the online or hybrid format. The tough and strong decision was to run it offline, despite it being the year of the World Council and Covid restrictions still took place. We are thankful to all YMCAs who managed to bring the staff to the Conference and contributed to the organisational process!
“The highlight was to meet people. I liked the timetable because there were many workshops etc. but there was also space for socialising. Because of that I can now contact many other colleagues way more easily and I also know better what they are doing in their Ys. I think many of my previous contacts went more deep and I was able to gain others’ trust professionally”
RESULTS OF THE MINI-GROUPS WORK
The mini-groups were asked several questions to reflect and share after each plenary. A lot of useful information and opinion of people can be found here.
The questions which were asked:
- Is your YMCA working with youth in projects/activities related to mental health?
- How has the recent crises (Covid pandemic & war in Ukraine for example) affected the youth in your context?
- What can the YMCA Movement/your organisation do to make sure that youth’s wellbeing is not neglected?
- How has your YMCA responded to the situation in Ukraine?
- How can you ensure the mental wellbeing of your staff and volunteers when responding to a crisis like this?
- A war can have long lasting and serious consequences in individuals’ lives. How can we respond to the impact that the crisis has on youth and their families now and also in the future?
- How does your YMCA work with young leadership? What kind of activities do you organise to promote young leadership?
- What kind of obstacles are there that prevent young people from taking part in decision making in your society/in your organisation?
- How can we encourage and involve young leaders more (not just in words but also in practice)?
- How do you break the barriers and make way for everyone to have equal opportunities to influence and take part in decision making? (Concrete examples)
“I am going to continue the discussion that started from Emma Hundertmark’s speech. We started to prepare “youth forum” that would be involved in our local decision making. Also we are going to find a way to flip around adults thoughts about how to get young people involved. Meaning that young people don’t need to find a way to participate for example board meetings in correct way instead adults need to find that way to hear young people in their ways. Also critical media thinking is going to be a part of our media education for young people. It will be transformed a bit from news papers to snap chat and tiktok for example that are more youth platforms”
The workshops incorporated the following topics:
- All you want to know about YMCA Europe
- How to be a leader with Impact?
- Mental Health
- Team Building Games
- Pathways to sustainable development
- How to plan and measure impact
- History of YMCA
- Critical thinking
- Social work through sports
“The highlights were plenary sessions, examples from different YMCA’s and how they work. Interaction with representatives of different YMCAs. Learning more about YMCA Europe. Socialising and networking”
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STAFF CONFERENCE
Among the key highlights the participants mentioned:
- Interaction with colleagues, their experience;
- Group discussions;
- Plenary on YMCA response to war in Ukraine;
- Dinner at the boat;
- Gaga ball;
- Bachata dance and International evening;
- Plenary sessions;
The Planning Team is grateful to all participants for meaningful active participation and to the National Movements for great selection of the participants!
- Anthony Camilleri, National Secretary General, YMCA Malta
- Gunter Lucking, YMCA Germany
- Ingrid Greiby, YWCA-YMCA of Sweden
- Kaisa Strömberg, Coordinator for International Projects and Volunteering
- Nathalie Vukmanic, YWCA-YMCA of Sweden
- Olga Lukina, YMCA Europe Executive Secretary for Movement Strengthening
Photo album of the event is available in HD below.