|Semper Avanti is a youth organisation based in Wrocław, Lower Silesia region, Poland. The association was established in 2001 and has since then grown to become a big, innovative and dynamic NGO. The organisation’s actions are focused on 3 main areas.
The first is “Youth in Democracy” which aims to help young people how to understand democracy and how to be part of it. Most of the activities are conducted in cooperation with local and regional authorities. In recent years, the association has managed to successfully complete numerous projects that allowed young people to establish a dialogue with decision makers on various levels and influence policies so as to meet the young people’s expectations. The association also equips young people with tools and knowledge that will allow them to make a change in their local community. Several youth councils have been established in municipalities throughout the region, to give the young people a firsthand experience in learning how democracy at a local level is executed. In cooperation with the Office of the Marshall of Lower Silesia (the regional government) we have also established the Regional Youth Council of Lower Silesia, where representatives of the young people from all counties in the region work on bringing their needs and expectations to attention of decision makers and the general public. Currently we are working with them at a local level to support them with skills workshops, organisational support in their meetings, methodologies, etc. In the last two years we coordinated „Dolnośląski Mechanizm Partycypacji Młodzieży” (financed by EOG) „Regionalny i lokalny wymiar polskiej polityki zagranicznej – GLOKAL” financed by Ministerstwo Spraw Zagranicznych and “Młodzieżowy Sejmik Województwa Dolnośląskiego 2016” financed by Urząd Marszałkowski Województwa Dolnośląskiego.
Furthermore, the association prepares and conducts games and simulations that illustrate the functioning of various political bodies and democratic mechanisms. During such activities (usually lasting around 5 days), young people have an opportunity to role-play and become decision makers and important stakeholders. Through a series of educational modules they are forced to make decisions and observe the impact of those decisions on their surroundings and other actors. Simulations of such institutions as United Nations, City Council or European Parliament have been successfully conducted in the past, both in Poland and abroad. Some of the projects implemented include Having a voice! Having a choice PL-13-17-2010 (2010) The Future of the European Union – the desires of young Europeans PL-13-006-2010-R2 (2010), Europa Habla (in Lorca, Spain, 2011), “Youth Council – Making things better” PL-54-23-2010 (2011), Civitatis PL-13-8-2012-R1 (2012), , Happy Europe PL-13-007-2013-R1 (2013) and Dolnośląski Mechaniszm Partycypacji Młodzieży (2015).
The association has also expertise in organising international seminars outside Europe about youth policies as Part of Youth in Action sub-action “Youth in the World” with a project titled “Youth Convergence for Education, Entrepreneurship and Employability” 373408-3.2-PL-2012 with the participation of young councillors and decision makers from Poland, Germany, Spain, Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia held in 2012. Currently Semper Avanti is coordinating the project “Youth Policy and Action” in the field of KA2 Capacity Building, whose aim is to establish intergenerational dialogue among policy makers, business leaders, youth worker and young people. The dialogue will be done in conjunction with evidenced based policy development training to capacitate young people on proper policy development and negotiations.
The second focus area is “Youth on the Labour Market” whose aim is preparing young people for the challenge of finding their first jobs and obtaining work experience. This includes organising vocational trainings and internships, both domestic and abroad, training courses on various subjects, developing hard-skills as well as soft-skills like communication, conflict resolution, self-presentation, teamwork, intercultural cooperation etc. The association cooperates very closely with vocational schools in the regions of Lower Silesia, Opole and Łódź and assists them in preparing applications, finding partners for international cooperation, managing the projects, providing trainings and preparations for the participants. The organisation is also a member of several partnerships working towards increasing the quality standards of vocational training, such as ‘EuPQua ECVET – European Partnership for Quality and Implementation of the European Credit System in VET’ or ‘IMOVE – Innovation for Mobility in VET: Public and Private Partnerships for sustainable mobility’. In the field of VET mobility, Semper Avanti collaborates with around 45 schools who apply for an average of 30 projects each year. As a result, around 800 students annually travel to Italy, Spain, Germany, Ireland, and United Kingdom for an internship which lasts 3 – 4 weeks. In 2016, the overall number of students was 1300. Additionally, Semper Avanti is also partner in hosting VET students for such countries in Lower Silesia and Opole voivodeship. In the field of VET mobility, Semper Avanti collaborates with around 45 schools who apply for an average of 30 projects each year. As a result, around 800 students annually travel to Italy, Spain, Germany, Ireland, and United Kingdom for an internship which lasts 3 – 4 weeks. In 2016, the overall number of students was 1300. Additionally, Semper Avanti is also partner in hosting VET students for such countries in Lower Silesia and Opole voivodeship. The number of hosted VETs varies from 50 to 100 yearly. The countries of origin of incoming VET students are Italy, Spain, Germany. Semper Avanti recently collaborated with Polish minister of Family, Labour and Social policies under the program “POWER” to develop policy recommendation on NEETS and youth in the labour market in Poland. In the field of the project EUROPA ZAWODOWO, Semper Avanti, together with GEB and YouNet is also currently involving 64 NEETS from the area of Lower Silesia, aged 18-35, at risk of social exclusion, which are receiving preparation in the home country, internships in Germany, Italy and Spain and follow up training when back in Poland to ease their access in the job market.
In 2014 Semper Avanti, Folksuniversitatet (Sweden), Revalento (Netherlands), Documenta (Spain), Universitet Saxon joined by Ufficio Scolastico regionale Veneto (Italy) and IES HNOS MACHADO (Spain) carried out the project Early School Leaver. The project aims to elaborate an early warning mechanism (methodological handbook with training materials), which enables schools to detect pupils at risk at as early stage as possible, and take proper actions to prevent school drop out. Semper Avanti’s focus in lower Silesia is on VET schools. In 2014 – 2015 Semper Avanti was partner in the project MOB GAE together with other 17 European organisations and collected 243 individual interviews and 500 blog entries from VET students who participated into mobility. 25 focus group reports were also prepared. As a result, the project brought about innovative training module to prepare VET students before their ERASMUS+ mobility, as well as a seminar for stakeholders on intercultural preparation. In 2013 Semper Avanti entered the LEONARDO project iMove. iMove is an umbrella organisation bringing together stakeholders involved in the co-ordination of transnational learning mobility of students and staff vocational education (VET). It is a network promoting sustainable models to make learning mobility an opportunity provided by all vocational schools and training centres in Europe. iMove’s legal status is an Association of Organisations founded under the Italian law. All iMove members must be organisations with a recognised legal status. The network is based in Bologna, where iMove originally started as a Leonardo project leaded by Emilia-Romagna Regional Government. iMove supports the setting up of ‘mobility consortia’ to allow all VET providers in a local, regional or sectoral context to offer to their learners and staff mobility opportunities. iMove members are private and public organizations which have developed or wish to develop a mobility consortium within a specific context (eg. local, regional or sectoral level). Today iMove involve 8 mobility consortia, 75 schools, 1196 companies.
In 2013 Semper Avanti also coordinated Europolis (2013-1-PL1-LEO02-37165 ), financed by “Leonardo da Vinci” Program. Within the framework of the project, 15 people will be able to leave for a 13-week internship abroad to Great Britain (6 people), Italy (2 people), Spain (3 people) and Germany (4 people). Participants were graduates of social studies from Lower Silesia :faculties as Political Science, Sociology, International Relations and European Studies.
Finally the third department is “Youth and Tolerance”. The goal of the organisation in this field is to promote tolerance, open-mindedness, European integration, international cooperation and cultural diversity. A lot of attention is dedicated to the personal development of participants and promotion of volunteering. To that aim, the actions are based especially through youth exchanges and European Voluntary Service programmes. The association is one of the biggest sending and hosting organisations in EVS in Poland. Every year, around 25 EVS volunteers from different countries come to Wrocław to get an unforgettable and life-changing experience. They get the chance to develop their professional as well their personal experience as well to contribute to the society of Lower Silesia. Firstly, volunteers have the task to debunk stereotypes about their home culture, countries and religion as well as conduct human rights and intercultural learning workshops. The target groups are mostly children and youngsters, especially in schooling age, but activities are also conducted in collaboration with other institutions, organisations and NGOs in Dolny Sląsk and Opole Voivodeship which are targeting groups who are experiencing exclusion and fewer opportunities (e.g. homeless elderly people, children living in orphanages, after school programmes dedicated to children and youngsters from disadvantaged background, women victims of domestic violence, people involved in correction facility or jail). At the same time, around 25 Polish youngsters are sent yearly abroad for EVS in many different fields such as: Youth, Tolerance, Human rights, Art, Culture, Alternative Life Style, Employment, European citizenship, Environment, Sports and Health, Media and Journalism, etc. The association also cooperates with other NGOs in the region on the promotion of volunteering, which results in the annual Lower Silesian Festival of Volunteering. Over 200 participants, including volunteers, NGO and youth workers and young people participate in a series of activities including workshops, concerts and debates.