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Agora

From EPSA - European Public Sector Award

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Over the last ten years, a permanent channel of communication has been established between families living in poverty and the youth support services - the AGORA group. Many parents are referred to youth support teams as a result of problems linked to poverty and a lack of understanding in society. Too often, the word ‘poverty’ becomes synonymous with ‘danger’. As a result, the fear of having children taken into care is ever-present in the daily lives of the poorest families. This fear is, however, a barrier to effective communications with support services.

The AGORA group was created following the General Report on Poverty, which highlighted these difficulties. It brings together not only representatives from two organisations aiming to unite those living in poverty through their common experiences, (ATD Fourth World and LST), but also representatives, advisors and directors of youth services, social workers from youth rights and support services teams, the Education Inspectorate, as well as the Directorate-General for Youth Services of the Ministry for the French Community of Belgium. The services to combat poverty, precariousness and social exclusion within the Centre for Equal Opportunities are also lending their support.

This venture is new because it aims to empower parents to make their problems known, allowing them to voice their hopes and criticisms without taking too much risk, and being recognised as active participants in the process. The youth support teams that are taking part in the process accept this new questioning, adapting and improving practices as a result of the feedback from these families. Important issues that need to be dealt with at each monthly meeting are a better understanding of the needs of these families, taking the necessary time to really understand each other from the first meeting, ensuring more transparency in any written correspondence regarding major decisions affecting the future of these families, and the importance of accepting the part of risk management inherent to all educational work. These also led to the publication of a joint brochure entitled ‘First contact between a family and youth support services’ and a one-day workshop on 17 October 2005 (International Day for the Eradication of Poverty), which provided information on the work carried out across support services. A document entitled ‘Youth support: a joint call from families and support workers for a liberating policy’ has just been written by the group

The support services workers involved in the process are fully engaged, with a sense of social responsibility towards the young people and their families, since any improvements made for the least well-off families will have a positive impact on everyone and on society as a whole.

Award info
Award category: citizen involvement
Award type: submission
Award year: 2009
Project type
Sector: Sports, youth, culture and art
Type of activity: communication strategy
Keywords: Youth aid services, poverty, social work
Short English description: The AGORA group was created following the General Report on Poverty, which highlighted these difficulties.
Further information
Organisation: Ministry of the French Community
Other applicants: Ministry of the French Community
Homepage:
Level of government: regional level
Size of organisation: >100
Number of people involved:
Country: Belgium
EU membership: EU member
Language code: en
Start date:
End date:


Agora (50.8593786° N, 4.3427539° E)
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