‘Enter!‘ is a long-term project in the Council of Europe (CoE) aiming to seek better youth policy and youth work response to exclusion, discrimination and violence specifically against young people from disadvantaged neighbourhoods. One core element of the project is putting young people and youth-led initiatives at the heart of all solutions. The youth-led approach has been the basis for the Enter! Long- Term Training Course for youth workers/leaders as well as the Enter! Youth Meeting 2015 bringing together youth workers, local authority representatives and young people from disadvantaged neighbourhoods.
Among the 180 participants ENIL was represented by Dilyana Deneva (Bulgaria), Gatis Caunitis (Latvia) and Mari Siilsalu (Estonia). Gabriela Laanet from the Department of Children and Families at the Ministry of Social Affairs of Estonia was part of the ENIL group as the local authority representative. This meeting’s main concern was about the implementation of the Committee of Ministers’ Recommendation to the member states on the access of young people from disadvantaged neighbourhoods to social rights – CM/Rec (2015)3. This recommendation is also know as the Enter! Recommendation, because its text is based on inputs from participants of the Enter! project activities.
The Enter! Recommendation puts forth measures for promoting social inclusion, meaningful participation and active citizenship, while preventing all forms of violence in disadvantaged neighbourhoods. The principles of universal design as well as the prevention of hate speech and hate crime are mentioned in the recommendation text. Therefore the Enter! Recommendation is a great advocacy tool for ENIL and its members on the national and local levels in the CoE member states.
Deinstitutionalization was not mentioned in this particular recommendation catching the attention of the ENIL group. Other documents adopted by the Council of Europe urge member countries to carry out deinstitutionalization process for improving disabled children’s access to social rights but they have not thought about the issue in regard to youth issues. The Council of Europe Disability Action Plan 2006-2015 is promoting community living and deinstitutionalization, but does not see full independent living as a choice for all, suggesting group homes in particular cases without clearly defining institutions or group homes and marking down the differences between the two.
Tackling the positions of the CoE, Mari Siilsalu held a speech to explain that deinstitutionalization has to be seen as a cross-cutting issue of children without parental care, as well as disabled children and adults and should be applied in its full capacity for every individual in the Council of Europe member countries. Since there is no such thing as meaningful participation or full citizenship without community living for all, the speech was concluded with a request for the adoption of a recommendation on deinstitutionalization of all the people living in institutions today and including deinstitutionalization in Council of Europe youth policy agenda.
You can read a report from the ENTER! Youth meeting here.
Photo: ENIL’s youth leaders – Mari Siilsalu, Dilyana Deneva and Gatis Caunitis, together with Gabriela Laanet from Estonia