Member news

Youth work during a pandemic – Online training and mental health

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!

PRONI Centre for Youth Development
Bosnia and Herzegovina

PRONI Centre for Youth Development is a youth organisation aiming at developing and implementing education activities in the field of youth work to promote peace and activism among active young citizens. PRONI has a team of 31 youth workers working on different projects and spread over 5 cities of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Like most of European countries, Bosnia and Herzegovina took measures to slow the spreading of the virus. Amongst these measures, schools and universities were closed, public gatherings of more than 50 persons were banned and indoor public gatherings became allowed only when providing that 10m2 per person were ensured and all the hygienic measures were respected.

Adina Halilović, coordinator at PRONI Youth club Mostar and board member of Youth Express Network, accepted to answer our questions and tell us how PRONI adapted to the lockdown and Covid-19 context.

“For us youth workers, human encounter and emotions are very important factors in our work, online work is a great challenge. » – Adina

Youth work goes live

PRONI youth workers had to work from home for the whole duration of the lockdown. Each youth club quickly held an online meeting gathering staff and volunteers to decide together how to adapt the programme. It was crucial for coordinators to work hand in hand with volunteers from which the team drew ideas for workshops according to their capacities and motivation. This close and honest direct collaboration in times of crisis allowed the programme to stay realistic and efficient.

Activities and workshops that could be held online were maintained and transferred to video-conference format or created from scratch, using online tools such as Zoom, the now famous video chat application, but also Jamboard, Kahoot and Mentimeter.

PRONI Academy of Youth Work

Amongst those activities, PRONI managed to transform a large youth work training called “YouVolution” into an online format. This training was originally developed to train over 80 youth workers from 10 cities and on 3 different levels: youth workers, trainers and youth club managers. Through 6 modules of trainings, the participants get to learn methods, tools and theories on youth work and non-formal education, and implement their knowledge in a practice phase later on.

As a consequence of the Covid-19 crisis, 4 modules of the training got converted into an online format using digital tools. Although the number of participants didn’t change, the online alternative allowed PRONI to reach more cities than usual, thus allowing its network to expand on the country’s territory. Since June, the modules went back to being organised in person in PRONI’s youth clubs, but the online alternative stayed as an option, bringing more accessibility to the programme. 

Addressing new challenges

Online sessions were also used to keep in touch with young people, help them cope with the lockdown providing them with useful tips and refreshing activities, and encouraging them to reflect on current issues such as climat change and media literacy (recognizing fake-news and non-violent online communication).

A special focus was put on mental health as one of PRONI’s youth club held the Online mind diary, 5 peer-learning sessions inviting young people to reflect on mental health, deconstruct stereotypes and share good mental health habits. Other online workshops provided healthy tips on working out, working from home, overcoming fear and emotional literacy.

As for raising awareness amongst young people on safety behaviors related to the pandemic, PRONI used MEMES to reach youth and remind them to stay home and be safe. PRONI’s logo also got a temporary remake to remember PRONI’s social media followers to be mindful of physical distancing.

Reopening the youth clubs

On the 8th of June, PRONI reopened their Youth clubs, providing new safety measures: disinfecting the spaces, safety distancing and distributing masks in each youth centers. While each center is slowly switching to live activities, some activities are still being held online.

SOMETHING POSITIVE

"The positive thing I noticed in my country was youth participation. Young people (students or/and high school students) were the first to form groups to help elder people, collecting food and bringing it to their doors, or even paying their bills. It was again young people who started sewing protection masks from different materials or making different parts of respiratory masks with 3D printers. They started that solidarity chain through the country and did not ask vulnerable people their name and nationality."
Adina Halilović
Coordinator at PRONI youth club Mostar