On June 26th, YMCA Europe´s General Assembly gathered close to 80 delegates representing 29 national European YMCAs.
Following our Constitution, the main annual governance event had to take place before June 30th and due to COVID-19 the “in person” meeting planned for last May 21-24 in Brussels had to be postponed.
The proposal from the Executive Committee of having the GA divided in two parts, was accepted by our member YMCAs and therefore the approval of the 2019 programmes and financial reports were submitted in this first meeting. In November the second part of the GA will be held in Brussels with a focus on the election of the new Executive Committee, the 2021 budget and the sessions on the strategic direction that our platform will follow in the next term.
Over the past months, most institutions, working platforms and structures adapted their meetings to the virtual format. Also the YMCA movement at all levels, have followed this path. Therefore this first virtual GA had all the typical ingredients that generally make this space not only a pragmatic submission and approval of reports, but also the inspirational moments that are so important for our federation.
The inspiring opening devotions with an emphasis on the impact of COVID-19 in Europe and some examples of responses from the local and national levels, the messages from our President Mike Will of by the World Alliance Secretary General Carlos Sanvee, the “In Memoriam” tribute to Poul Thomsen and Poul Henrik H. Jakobsen from Y´s Men who passed away in the last months and the traditional roll call of all national YMCAs represented, created an atmosphere of fellowship and unity.
A very special message to all YMCA delegates was received from Mr. David Sassoli, President of the European Parliament. President Sassoli expressed his gratitude for the invitation to speak at our GA and expressed the need to continue creating spaces for youth participation in civic live. In the present context that we live in Europe, this youth involvement is more needed than ever – Mr. Sassoli shared, also stressing the EU commitment with youth empowerment.
The 2019 annual report and a summary of the 2016-2020 strategy final report was shared by YE´s Secretary General, Juan Simoes Iglesias. In addition to the 2019 highlights, the report included statistics and details about programmes developed during the strategic period were within the three pillars adopted in 2016 which defined YE´s role in “Creating Spaces”, “Strengthening the Movement” and “Representing & Advocating”.
The 2019 accounts, auditors report and details about the YMCA175 event held in London last year to celebrate YMCA´s 175th anniversary were presented by YE´s Treasurer Beate Turck. Before the GA a number of questions regarding the 2019 reports and accounts had been sent by national movements and this procedure facilitated the responses in the virtual format and provided the level of open participation and transparency that our members deserve.
The meeting also included the presentation of the winners of the inaugural “Roots Peace Awards” to YMCA Georgia and the European Union (Parliament) and updates about the George Williams Fund and other YE´s working platforms and programme groups.
President Mike Will thanked all representatives of national YMCAs, guests, Executive Committee members, Staff Team and everyone involved in the 2019-2020 successful period and in particular for the participation, technical work and outcomes of the General Assembly. His closing prayer was also an invitation to all volunteers, staff, partner organizations and stakeholders to continue strengthening YMCA´s mission and impact across Europe.
Thank you to all who took part at this first virtual General Assembly and we look forward to our next steps together as we define our “strategic direction” in transition to the new period as we approach the 50th anniversary of the European Alliance of YMCAs (YMCA Europe). Just like in our funding times, also today our joint work and relevance is needed to continue building Europe in solidarity, justice, peace and unity.