My name is Rhys, a first time dad blogging about my adventures and experiences of being a parent. [email protected]

Welsh youth leaders in Brussels for European Youth Week

L-R: Israel Campos, Rhia Danis, Amber Lewis and Rory Chapman, members of the EU/UK Youth Stronger Together delegation at EU Youth Week

Rhia Danis, from the Future Generations Leadership Academy, and Amber Lewis from the Welsh Youth Parliament, have been part of a UK youth delegation attending European Youth Week in Brussels, a biennial event hosted by the European Commission promoting youth engagement, democratic participation and active citizenship.

They were selected to be part of the delegation through the British Council’s EU/UK Youth Stronger Together programmewhich offers young people aged 15–30 from Wales and across Europe opportunities to connect, cooperate, influence and implement change together on topics of common interest. The programme aims to facilitate close and sustainable relationships between young people in the UK and the EU, working with young people across schools and youth organisations and with young activists and journalists.

European Youth Week (EYW) raises awareness of youth involvement in decision-making, fosters dialogue between young people and policymakers, and showcases the talents and projects of young Europeans.  This year’s event runs from 12 – 19 April, with an emphasis an emphasis on promoting democratic participation and active citizenship, and empowering young people to engage in community activities.

Rhia Danis, is a Board member of youth organisation Refugee Youth Service and is working with the Office of the Commissioner for Future Generations on an Action Plan encouraging more young people to move into agriculture.  Speaking about the experience, she says:

European Youth Week has been an important insight into the issues that impact nations and young people across Europe, from education reform and climate change, to economic uncertainty and political career support, and reimagining what the future could look like.

It has been incredibly inspiring to share spaces with young people who are committed to compelling policymakers to take action. I’ve had the opportunity to interact with individuals I might never have encountered otherwise and have been given a platform to witness significant developments occurring across Europe, along with the tangible steps being taken by people to effect change.  I feel particularly motivated to engage more closely with my own community as a result of this experience whilst keeping a global outlook.”

Amber Lewis, works as an Education and Youth Engagement Officer at the Senedd, alongside studying a master’s degree in Youth and Community Work at Cardiff Metropolitan.  She adds: “ Not only have I had the opportunity to attend European Parliament, but I have also had the privilege to be among so many inspiring young people and organisations.

The experience has made me realise how we can all contribute to solving many current issues.  It’s given me an insight on the influence young people can have in society, and how decision makers, through their youth charter, consider the impact policies and ideas for change have on young people. Nevertheless, I still believe that there is more work to be done in amplifying youth voices, and putting young people at the front of discussions to show what it means to have their voice heard. Today is the start of what is next to come.”

The EU/UK Youth Stronger Together programme is delivered by the British Council in co-operation with the European Movement International and co-funded by the European Union.

Speaking about the programme, Eirini Kareta, British Council EU Programme Manager, said: “Through the activities of our Youth Leadership strand of the EU UK Youth Stronger Together project, we aim to strengthen the UK youth sector, enable connections with youth organisations, policy makers and practitioners and facilitate cooperation among young people in the EU and the UK for Europe’s collective benefit.

We are supporting active young leaders and representatives of youth organisations to attend youth events where they can network, share and interact with their peers in the EU on topics of common concern, from democracy and human rights to climate and the advancement of youth policy.  These are vital opportunities for young people, giving them a voice to shape the future and empowering them to actively participate in making a difference.”

Ruth Cocks, Country Director British Council Wales, commented on the importance of the programme for young people in Wales, saying: “This is a fantastic programme and opportunity for young people in Wales to maintain and strengthen links with Europe, which is increasingly important in the post Brexit era.

Wales has strong cultural, educational and trade links with the EU and it’s important that the younger generation in Wales maintain these and also get to benefit from programmes and partnerships with their European peers in the way other generations have.  Stronger Together is designed to do just that. We can’t underestimate the impact of mutual learning and peer support that young people will gain from building informal networks with European peers and the doors that this may open for not only their future but the future of Wales.”