„YMCA Europe is a working fellowship to strengthen movements where people grow in body, mind and spirit.“

Youth Policy Group

The Youth Policy Group (YPG) is a special body within the YMCAs composed of 13 young people chosen within the organization, from many member movements, who shape and build the advocacy of YMCA Europe and represent us externally. This means that our advocacy is YOUTH LED: shaped and managed by our young people.

From an internal point of view, the YPG members are in charge of writing Policy Papers which are the basis of our advocacy: you can see the Policy papers on our website.

From an external point of view, the YPG represents the interests of YMCA Europe in external meetings with European Institutions, the UN, National Governments, and with international youth bodies such as the European Youth Forum the Advisory Council on Youth to the Council of Europe. During these meetings, the YPG presents and defends the positions of YMCA on various topics and showcases the work of our members for youth. In these fora the YPG also drafts and amends the documents establishing a common advocacy platform with other NGOs or youth platforms.

The Youth Policy Group aims to build a YMCA vision of the world and on youth policy. Interested to join? Please email ilenia[at]ymcaeurope.com  

Elisa Vas is currently working as Expert / Project Coordinator within Studies and Analyses Unit, in the prestigious European Institute of Romania. She is also working as Communication and Public Relations Assistant within Young Initiative Association, an organization member of YMCA Romania Federation.. Among other, she studied International Relations, Political and Communication Science at the University of Oradea (Romania). Her several work experiences in communication, pedagogy and social field allowed her to sharpen her communication and conflict management skills.

For two year, Eglantina Lula have been the Executive Director of YMCA Tirana, Albania. She has more than 10 years of experiences in management area, mostly on managerial drafting project proposals and fund raising in NGOs. Moreover, she also has several experiences as a social worker. For instance, she was moderator within Albanian World's Children-Human Rights Association where she offered psycho-social counseling. And presently, she provides training and coaching for employment to the former Albanian women and girl victims of trafficking. She would like to carry on her career into humanitarian domain to build on and develop her managerial skills and enhance people's lives.

Here is Janette Van Kalkeren from The Netherlands. She is employed as marketing coordinator ELT (English language teaching) for an international publisher; she is also part of the international committee of YMCA of The Netherlands as a volunteer. She has worked with YMCA of The Netherlands for many years. Alongside this organization, she took part to several summer camps as a team member. She helped to improve internal and external communication, social media and the implementation of several new websites too. For a time, she worked as a communication employee for the NGO Youth for Christ. She has already worked in policy making regarding general youth policies for the political movement ChristenUnie - jongeren.

Lea Suzanne Wisseler is from Germany where she is doing her Master's degree in Peace and Conflict studies and Middle Eastern Studies international (B.A.) with major Politics at the Philipps University of Marburg. She loves traveling to discover other countries and religions. She visited many countries in Europe but also beyond. Hereby, she stayed a year in Israel and studied for a few months in Jordan. Through those travels, she has seen a lot of human right violations and she realized how challenging peacebuilding can be. However, she is motivated to contribute to solve this issue and to promote intercultural and interreligious dialogue. She is involved in the YMCA movement since an early age and she is looking forward to taking part on a European public debate level and to establishing a more coherent policy message alongside YMCA Europe.

Gerald Chifamba is a Trustee of YMCA St Pauls Group which is the largest YMCA in Europe, he also continues to be a Youth Ambassador of YMCA England & Wales. He is strongly involved in YMCA organisation in many ways. He helps the NGO as a volunteer in World YMCA Resource Group on Health and in YMCA England & Wales Health and Wellbeing Committee. He is part of YES group YMCA Europe as a policy and advocacy Officer too. Thanks to his different affiliations he will be able to make sure that work in these YMCA groups is coherent and allow coordination between the groups to enhance the advocacy impact of YMCA. He is especially motivated to advocate to foster health provision, increased participation in sports and outdoor activity for young people across Europe.

Phillippa Lewis is from UK too. Currently, she is working within YMCA England & Wales as Policy and Research Officer and previously as Policy Support Officer. A part of her mission consists to respond to Government consultations on behalf of the YMCA Federation. She also undertakes some research, for instance one which was focused on young people's experiences with stigma surrounding mental health difficulties. She has worked for years in the NGO sector especially

Martina Vitezova comes from Serbia where she is working in the board of Directors of YMCA Serbia. Her main tasks there are to advise on long term strategy and raised awareness of youth issues among government officials and civil societies members. She is truly concerned by challenges which affect youth especially ones related to education and employment. In February 2016 for instance, she represented YMCA World at the ECOSOC Youth forum. That was the opportunity to discuss the issue of youth unemployment in Europe with representatives of UN agencies. She is looking forwards to start her mission with YPG, a platform where she could contribute to help YMCA advocacy thanks to her many proposals to improve youth education and employment quality.

Evelyna Symeonidou is from Thessaloniki, Greece and is a former art student who decided to switch to graphic art design. She is involved in the YMCA movement since an early age, participating at several YMCA Summer Camps where she received an Honourable Mention. Her work experiences in Concorde International and YMCA allowed her to develop solid skills in management, leadership and communication, as well as her participation to YMCA Europe Leadership Academy 2017. Trustworthy and reliable are qualities she values in her professional and personal life.

Mirjami Kallinen is from Finland where she is doing a Bachelor of Social issues and youth worker in Discaona University. She is working in YMCA Finland as a volunteer project intern. A part of her mission consists to organize and execute events related to social issues and digitalization for adults. Her activeness within YMCA has given her opportunities to work abroad such as in Sweden, Lebanon and Gambia. One of her most important values in her life and work is offering every person the same rights and opportunities as everyone else, no matter their background, gender, social standing or anything else for that matter.

Galin Dechoian is from Armenia. She is a member of YMCA Syrian Armenians and is responsible to organize weekly activities for members. She studies in the American University of Armenia and is passionate in human rights. Her interest commenced from her personal experience whilst living in a war zone in Syria. Then, at university, she took human rights classes and a law and justice class where she learned about the comparative review of legal system regarding human rights. She wants to be a humanitarian in the future to protect the vulnerable and be an agent of change.

Daisy Giuliano is from YMCA Derbyshire. She has lived in Derby, England all her life, and she is very proud citizen of the city. She is a Board member of YMCA Derbyshire which means she gets to influence the strategy and senior decision-making of the organisation. In her day job, she works for the British Youth Council, supporting young people to have their voice heard and to make change on a local, regional and national level. She is passionate about young people becoming better involved with the decision-making structures that rule our society and ensuring a youth voice is heard and listened to.

Alex Taylor has been a member of the YMCA her whole life, moving from member to young volunteer and is currently a Trustee of YMCA Barnsley. She is particularly passionate about developing youth leadership in her YMCA. Alex has been a Youth Ambassador for YMCA England & Wales since the start of the program. She is a degree qualified youth worker and her day job consists of involving young people in decision making processes, getting them a seat at the table and supporting them to make change locally, regionally and nationally. This is a passion she takes into her voluntary work with the YMCA and has represented the YMCA movement on a range of international platforms in the area of civic engagement.