The Covid-19 pandemic took the world by surprise and youth organisations had to adapt, all over the world. How are European youth organisations coping with this crisis? Here are the stories of some of our member organisations, our way of documenting this common page in our History, and mapping samples of the impact this pandemic had on youth work throughout Europe!
Parcours le Monde – Grand Est
Based in Nancy, France, our member Parcours le Monde – Grand Est (PLMGE) is one of 5 branches of the organisation Parcours le Monde. Spread over France, Parcours le Monde supports young people with fewer opportunities, empowering them and facilitating their access to employability through International and European mobility, intercultural dialogue and active citizenship.
Thanks to Anne-Sophie Baptista and Sophie Mathieu, regional and project manager at PLMGE, for giving us their testimony on how the Covid-19 crisis impacted their work at local and European level. Thanks also to Emmeline Kuhn and Cécile Martinelli, members of the Board, for their contribution.
From mid-march to the 11th of May, the French government mandated a shut-down of all non-essential businesses and other venues open to the public. Most employers had to adapt their way of functioning by allowing all or most of their employees to work from home. Public gathering were forbidden and people were only allowed out in cases of first necessities such as grocery shopping, medical appointment or physical exercice.
Like many entreprises and organisations, Parcours le Monde was able to benefit from the support of the French government. Amongst these measures, the temporary status of partial unemployment allowed PLMGE to adapt 2 out of 3 of their staff work contracts, thus allowing the organisation to stay afloat and continue working, from home, but reducing these employees working hours. On the other hand, PLMGE was unable to welcome the 2 civic service volunteers who were supposed to join their staff in March. Since June, PLMGE’s staff gradually went back to their office, though the contracts of their civic service volunteers were postponed to September.
Staying in touch with youth and partners
The French lockdown prevented PLMGE to meet with young people, which constitutes a major part of their work. To adapt to this context, the organisation converted most of their workshop into online workshops using video chat applications: english workshops, information and partnership meetings… The organisation also took advantage of this time to rethink and develop their training programme in order to offer a wider variety of trainings to their partners and young participants.
Managing volunteers abroad
Another part of the work of Parcours le Monde is to send French volunteers abroad through the European Solidarity Corps (ESC). Long-term volunteers (9 months) stayed in their hosting structures and countries, but PLMGE managed to bring most of their short-term volunteers back in France. All upcoming ESC volunteering and other European partnership projects were cancelled or postponed to the end of 2020 or to 2021.
Organising a General Assembly online
In July, the organisation planned and held their annual general assembly through video chat. The main difficulties of this new format was to guarantee an intelligible and structured online discussion and to manage the voting session for the election of the new board members. A good flow was ensured during the meeting thanks to visual material (screen sharing) and mediation. After testing several voting systems, PLMGE decided to keep the vote by showing of hands and general consent, which was successful. 2 new board members were elected through this process.