Member news

Youth work during a pandemic – Live streaming and managing volunteers abroad

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!

“Common Sense” Youth Organisation
Azerbaijan

“Common Sense” Youth Organisation (CSYO) was founded by a group of young people in the city of Sumgait, Azerbaijan. Its aim is to raise awareness among young people on active citizenship, healthy lifestyle, environmental awareness, human rights and equality, peace building and conflict prevention.

In Azerbaijan, sanitary measures included: the closing of educational institutions, prohibition of gatherings of 10 or more people, closing of air and land borders, suspension of public events, regional and long-distance transport… 

A first quarantine of 2 months was ordered. It was lifted as cases were decreasing and fewer restrictions were asked from the people. Only 2-3 weeks later, a second wave of Covid-19 led the government to order another strict quarantine, announced at the time to last until the 20th of July.

Orkhan Bayramov, project manager at CSYO, and Amina Abdullayeva, board member of CSYO, and Ramiz Aliyev, board member of CSYO and president of Youth Express Network, both took the time to answer our questions and share with us the impact of the Covid-19 quarantine on the organisation.

Reorganising youth work

During the first quarantine, CSYO’s team had to work online. From the projects that were supposed to take place during this period, 3 Erasmus+ projects were postponed to next year and 1 local project was adapted to the online format.

This change of dynamic also presented an opportunity to focus on internal NGO work such as redesigning their website and exploring new digital tools for youth work.

Sharing tips through live streams

Online seminars, and trainings were also developed to cover the quarantine period. Once a week, youth workers held Zoom meetings and live streams to share their experience on youth-work-related topics such as writing international and local projects, Erasmus+ funding and the European Solidarity Corps, budget management…

Social media campaign on healthy lifestyle

One of the main aim of CSYO is to promote healthy lifestyle to young people, and the organisation has been particularly active in raising awareness on the risks linked to smoking. During this Covid-19 quarantine, CSYO conducted a wide no-smoking campaign on their social media, campaign which included a live interview with a doctor specialised on this topic.

Managing foreign volunteers

Because of the closing of air borders, one of the main challenges of CSYO was to manage the individual situations of their European volunteers unable to return to their home countries. 1 foreign volunteer in Azerbaijan had her embassy organise her flight home on the 18th of May. From their 27 Azerbaijanis volunteers spread over 12 European countries, 7 of them had finished they European volunteering but were unable to go home. To help them overcome this stressful situation, CSYO supported them from afar, staying in contact with them 24/7. Through a Whatsapp group and regular video meetings, the volunteers were able to chat with each other, support each other and share on their experience.

Online voting

CSYO is now preparing for online board elections which will be held on the 15th of August. It will be their first online election experience.

SOMETHING POSITIVE

"It is very hard to stay positive and calm during these tough times for all of us. I assume that situations are similar for all of our countries. Even the word "positive" has been horrific among people due to the COVID test results. But I think for all of us and especially for young people, this crisis taught many things which can be essential and somehow view as positive outcomes. Many people had more free time because of the lockdown. Youth learned how to stay productive during the day, they learned online social tools and discovered new hobbies. Of course, all of these depend on individuals. At CSYO, we organized a program through which members could share their knowledge in any field with their peers. It depended on personal initiatives of our members. Sure the quality was not the same as offline training but it allowed a diversity of so many new types of training for youth. Also, here in Azerbaijan, we saw charity campaigns created due to the COVID-19 and plenty of volunteers helping elder people get their basic needs such as going to the supermarket etc..."
Amina Abdullayeva
Board member at CSYO