At the beginning of April, I went to Latvia for a week Training Course on Youth Employability. I was optimistic about the trip as it was with Youth Workers on a topic I’m passionate about. Unemployment is a problem that many young people face in the UK and as the week progressed I soon realised it wasn’t just a problem in the UK but also across Europe. We arrived at a Hotel in Rezenke on Monday evening after several hours of traveling, the training course began on Tuesday. We spent the first day introducing ourselves and finding out where everyone travelled from through ice breakers and games. The Trainer arrived in the afternoon and we began learning about Youth Employability, it was followed by an intercultural evening where it country shared their food and culture. This was great as the group gelled well after the first day. On Wednesday we continued our learning about the subject through talks and discussions. The following day we had the opportunity to visit a Youth Centre called ZeimuIs, it was funded by Government and very inspiring to see. The youth centre worked with young people ages 4 – 25 and catered to that age group through various activities such as Photography, Arts and Crafts, Dancing and Baking, it was a safe space for young people from an early age regardless of their background. The Youth Centre also worked closely with the local government and held quarterly breakfasts with the kids from the youth centre and policy makers, this gave them the opportunity to ask questions and get answers on topics that affected them as well as state changes they wanted to see in the community.

This would later be followed up with meeting at a later date to ensure the policy makers were actioning their requests, we also got to hear stories from the young people who attended the Youth Centre and were part of the Youth Council. My inquisitive nature caused me to ask many questions, which was often greeted by laughter and had to be repeated due to my accent not being understood. The synergy between the government and youth centre worked well because it allowed the decision makers to see first hand the impact the youth centre had on the young people in the community. My concerns, however, were about funding, the cost to keep the centre running was astronomical and although it was funded by the European Union I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if the funding dried up, all the great work they were doing would come to a halt. The space they had was large, thinking of independent ways to generate an additional income would be beneficial for them in the long term. We all left Zeimuls inspired and went back to the hotel after taking pictures to discuss the trip. On the Friday we learnt about competencies we could adopt as youth workers and developed potential projects we could collaborate on. Saturday was spent reflecting and evaluating the week we had, then Sunday we departed to Riga to head back to our various countries, my flight was in the evening so gave me the chance to explore the city. The week was amazing because the people were, our trip was filled with so much laughter because of the interesting youth workers that attended the course, although the general consensus in the group was that the method of teaching could have been more interactive and because it wasn’t not much was learned. I loved the Latvian people and was looked after at the local restaurant, everywhere I went I was greeted with a warm welcome, the organisers World – Our Home was friendly and professional and did a great job catering to our needs throughout the week.

By Samuel