Over the past year People’s Voice Media has been working with a consortium of European partners on the CONTINUE Project. Co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union, the project has set out to gather the stories of young people across Europe, specifically relating to their experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Initially, PVM trained the project partners in Community Reporter methodologies so that they (along with us) could host story gathering workshops followed by story curation sessions with marginalised young people in our respective localities in order to garner insights from their lived experience stories. These insights were collated and put together in a series of reports, one for each partner in Germany, Lithuania, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Denmark and the UK. The individual insight reports (in English) can be downloaded here.

These reports were used as the backbone of a series of Conversation of Change events across Europe, one for each partner organisation. At these events, facilitated by the young people themselves, young people and project partners met with stakeholders, decision-makers and policy-makers to discuss the insights from the lived experience stories and begin to co-create ideas for social actions that would feed into the next stages of the project. The stories and events uncovered that there were three main areas in which European youth felt most heavily affected by the pandemic:

  1. Health and wellbeing – high levels of anxiety, poor mental health, reduction in physical health;
  2. Education and careers – disengagement with education, damaged career prospects;
  3. Social issues and inequalities – exacerbation of existing inequalities and social issues.

These three themes were discussed in-depth in the Pan-European Conversation of Change event, held online in April, at which stakeholders, decision-makers, and policy-makers working at the European level worked together to develop further insights and ideas for social actions. These insights have been used to create a pan-European insight report, which can be downloaded here, and a short film highlighting some of the lived experience stories told by the young people across the continent.

The project is now moving on to its next stages, in which the young people co-create social actions in each of the respective partner countries, while partners speak to local and European level decision-makers, policy-makers and stakeholders to develop knowledge exchange events and policy recommendations. Watch this space.

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