Yes, our General Assembly in May (Madrid, Spain) agreed to start a journey that will take us to 2020. The strategic objectives and priorities were set after an effective consultation process across the European YMCA Movement. We achieved a consensus about the role of YMCA Europe as we walk "Towards 2020" :
- We Create Spaces
- We Strengthen Movements
- We Represent & Advocate
We also defined our socially relevant priorities for this period looking at the European social context. Our response needs to be clear, based on our Mission and Guiding Principles. Those priorities are :
- Youth Empowerment
- Peace & Justice
- Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Migrants
- Youth Employment
An Operational Plan for 2016-2017 was developed again with the involvement of our Executive Committee, Staff and representatives of our working platforms.
A highlight in the year was the election of a new Executive Committee. In his acceptance speech, our new President Mike Will stressed that "young people are potential change makers in Europe". He also spoke about "the need to strengthen National Movements to deliver socially relevant programmes in Europe, communicating and advocating the YMCA message at all levels, highliting the importance of financial sustainability and the need to respond to the challenges in Europe today".
We recognized and appreciated the work of the previous Executive led by President Ed Eggink and also everyone that contributed to YMCA Europe throughout the previous strategic plan.
Our monthly newsletters throughout 2016 and our continuous presence through social media, spread news about YMCAs Europe´s events and achievements. We also published highlights from our member and co-operating Movements focusing on Youth Empowerment programmes and Movement Strengtehning.
The YES Seminar in Madrid (Spain), the "Roots for Reconciliation" Programme Forum in Tblisi (Georgia), thetraining for Camp Instructures in Setubal (Portugal), the new Governance Training for YMCAs Belarus, Ukraine and Russia, the preparation for the new round of "Roots for Reconciliation" Peace Work Institute in Litomysl (Czech Republic) were some of the actions developed by YMCA Europe this year. We are generated working spaces with a pan European approach and a focus on Movement Strengthening. Examples were : the 5th NGS Forum in Setubal (Portugal), field group meetings for YMCA´s Kosovo. Ukraine and Belarus combined with programmatic initiatives of our working platforms (sports, Ten Sing, scouting). A Conference on Work with Refugees, Asylum Seekers & Migrants took place in The Netherlands co-organized with that National Movement and this was a crucial step to set priorities in our joint work in this socially relevant field across Europe.
2016 will also be remembered as the year in which our Office in Brussels was opened with an emphasis on "Advocacy, Projects and Fundraising". Being closer to the main European institutions, searching for opportunities that would benefit our movements and raising our YMCA profile, have been some of the achievements that we have also shared across Europe through our monthly "Brussels newsletter".
YMCA Europe was represented at the European Youth Event (Strasburg, France), the YMCA World Urban Network (Wincehster, UK), "Together For Europe" Conference (Munich, Germany), European Scouting Training and UNIFY Conference (both near Zurich, Switzerland), Y USA Global Centers of Exellence (Houston, USA), Camping Conference (Frost Valley, USA) and the World Alliance governance and working meetings in Lima (Peru), Geneva (Switzerland) and Litomysl (Czech Republic). Thank you to all National Movements that invited our volunteers and staff to their general assemblies, events, meetings and trainings across Europe.
Looking at 2017 ...
As we continue implementing our Strategy, we look forward to several crucial steps in 2017. The Operational Plan for next year has been reviewed with good inputs from our Executive Committee, Staff Team and main stakeholders. We will initiate the Organizational Review process that is part of the adopted Strategy. This will again involve all our working platforms and members with a clear goal : to prepare YMCA Europe in order to better respond to the needs of our Member and Co-operating YMCAs through relevant initiatives, raising our internal and external profile.
A "health check" system will be developed in co-operation with the national YMCAs, combined with a wide survey that will update the diverse reality of the European YMCA movement in aspects such as number of local YMCAs, facilities and propeties, relevant programmes and outreach.
We will continue strengthening the capacity of our movement through the "Leadeship Academy" with a focus on governance training and a pan European approach. The European Youth Foundation provided a grant to YMCA Europe for this purpose and we will launch the programme in early 2017. Also the call for participants for the next generation of our Peace Work Institute will be sent in January.
The Office in Brussels will play a key role in our Advocacy and Representation strategy with a focus on projects and the involvement of our new Youth Policy Group and the National Movements.
Other working spaces will be reinforced. Some examples will be the camping network with one more conference in Finland, a Youth Employment Conference, the 6th NGS Forum in Kassel, Germany and governance training events using the models of our pilot experiences in 2015-16.
The planning of the 2019 Event will also start and the location, venue and basic concept will be presented at our General Assembly in Edimburgh in April.
An exiting year is ahead of us and we are thankful to all our partners and members. Your trust, contribution and guidance will continue inspiring us throughout the new year!!
Thank you on behalf of our Executive Committee and Staff Team!