Three National Eurochild Forums up and running

As part of Eurochild‘s Child Participation Strategy, Eurochild has started to set up three National Eurochild Forums (NEFs) with support from our members around Europe.

The first meeting of the Bulgarian National Eurochild Forum

In 2017 these were piloted in three countries, Bulgaria (led by National Network for Children - NNC), Estonia (led by Estonian Union for Child Welfare), and Malta (led by The President‘s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society - PFWS). 

All three NEFs have had their first meetings or activities in the past couple of months and are off to a very good start.

Report from Malta: 

As soon as the Foundation was approached to set up the NEF we decided that for our first activity we wanted to do a national consultation with school children in Malta and invite all schools to participate. The activity was discussed with Eurochild and with the PFWS Children’s and Young Persons’ Councils. The children came up with the title ‘You Matter No Matter What’ and the activity aimed to promote a deeper understanding of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

The objective of this activity was to give children the opportunity to share how their opinions are being heard. The outcomes shall feed into Eurochild’s Child Participation Strategy to identify appropriate measures for increasing the participation of children and young people both at national and European level. The work of the NEF is focused on the UNCRC Article 12, whereby it is stated that children have the right to be heard and for adults to take them seriously.

The activity was organised on 16 November 2017 with the active participation of schools from around Malta. Members from PFWS gave a presentation on children’s rights and each school was provided with a resource pack that included two T-shirts, a set of acrylic paints and a booklet on children’s rights. The children were asked to go back to their schools to discuss with other pupils on what makes them feel heard and what stops them from being heard, design the T-shirts with their outcomes and finally present them on the second part of the project. 

Furthermore a group of children aged 13 years and over will be meeting, once a month to discuss the themes assigned by Eurochild. Their first meeting is scheduled for 30 January 2018.

Report from Bulgaria: 

On 24 and 25 January the National Network for Children started one of the first three National Eurochild Forums in Europe, here in Bulgaria. Eighteen young people from nine different regions (NEF Rapporteurs), covering the whole country, and eight supporting adults took part in the meeting to launch the new body.

During the meeting the children got to know the work of Eurochild and its children’s participation strategy. The group discussed why children`s rights are important and who is responsible for its monitoring.

The meeting also addressed the question why National Eurochild Forums and Eurochild Children’s Council (ECC) exist and the link between them. One of Bulgaria’s representatives in the ECC, Ilian, shared his experiences and described the work of the ECC group so far. 

Children were also encouraged to suggest topics and problems they would like to work on in the future. For example, the first topic the NEF in Bulgaria identified is to ask other children about their opinions on education and its effect on social exclusion and poverty.

Another part of the meeting was devoted to making plans and sharing roles and responsibilities. The group exercised the “Monthly Method” of reporting on different matters concerning children through a simulation by discussing the Eurochild Strategy as an actual topic for the exercise. Throughout the two days the NEF Rapporteurs seemed like they were having a lot of fun getting to know each other more and grasping their future tasks.

In Estonia, the first meeting of the NEF took place over the last weekend of January. Next month a report from the Estonian NEF will be shared, as well as other NEF updates.