Solidarity, tolerance and social inclusion are the fundamental values of the European Union and guiding principles integrated in all its policies as cross-cutting issues. Social inclusion is a pre-requisite of development and sustainability, “a process which enables marginalized and vulnerable groups to participate fully in the economic, social and cultural life of the society, to access their fundamental rights and to enjoy a standard of living that is considered normal in the society in which they live”. On the contrary, social exclusion prevents individuals, groups or communities from accessing the rights, opportunities and resources that are normally available to members of society. Social exclusion is a problem for both individuals and the society, not limited only to economic issues. Social inclusion of young people with vulnerable backgrounds is a challenging topic in Europe and its neighbouring regions. The list of young people at risk of social exclusion includes young people with disabilities, ethnic, sexual and religious minorities, unemployed, homeless youth or young offenders, etc.
Therefore, social inclusion is a topical issue and priority of the EU strategies, policies and programmes. Europe 2020 Strategy aims to lift 20 million people out of risk of poverty and social exclusion by 2020. EC also emphasizes the importance of non-formal education, mentoring and support of young people in the risk social inclusion and significance of youth work in this area. Promoting young people’s social inclusion is one of the priorities of ERASMUS+ programme.
The project CLOSER – Re-thinking Social Inclusion was supported by the ERASMUS+ Programme in 2015. It is implemented by the partnership composed of non-governmental organisations from France, Georgia, Italy, Slovakia and Spain. The project aim is to raise quality of youth work and strengthen capacities of youth workers in social inclusion, as well as to contribute to building a more inclusive society and raising awareness of social inclusion in young people and broad public.
The project activities will include a survey of skills and competences of youth workers in all partner countries which will serve as a basis for an international training activity. The partners will also collect best practices and examples of projects in social inclusion and promote them through the information tools created by the partnership (web-platform, compendium). An integral part of the project will be a Week of Social Inclusion – an awareness-raising campaign involving local communities and mainly young people in order to build a more inclusive and solidary society.