Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Visit to Allianassi (Finnish Youth Co-operation)

THE MOG BLOG continues...

So the REAL today is Tuesday 12th May 2009. Last night was great; hetting to know each other etc. although it's nearly high summer here, so there's hardly any dark. A bit like that film "Insomnia" with Al Pacino and Robin Williams, except it's really nice in Helsinki.

Anyway this morning after having a weird dream where i had got up late and missed today's visits, I woke up and found I hadn't missed them at all.

So let's begin with our visit to Alliansi (Being Different Together), the national youth work organisation in Finland (est.1993) which supports over 3,400 youth workers in the field as well as 1200 member youth organisations across the country.

Quick Overview

So the vast majority of organinsations engaging and working with young peolple in Finland are members of Alliansi, which aims to support and develop youth work practice regionally, nationally and internationally.

The main focus of the organisation is to represent and lobby for the rights of both young people and those who support them through influencing and lobbying government in order to influence policy and the direction of youth work nationally.

Alliansi also offers a range of services to member organisations and the young people they represent through education and training and major seminars in youth work such as the Alliansi Cruise ( a youth work seminar on a boat!!!).

Multi cultural and minority work and the strive towards equality in youth work in the face of an ever changing demographic pushes Alliansi onward to provide resources and training for youth work organisations in order to promote equality of opportunity and representation.

Collaborative project work with organisations representing minority groups as well as networking can promote a sense of belonging and a feeling of being part of a national strategy; Alliansi is leading the way in this ongoing process in Finland which encourages mutual learning and understanding.

Other activities include:
  • youth elections which are connected to parliamentary elections which encourages participation and develops an interest and understanding of politics and democracy. Alliansi have also been campaigning and lobbying to lower the voting age from 18 to 16 years.
  • A magazine for professionals in the field (published 8 times a year)
  • A library and Information Service for young people (NOTE: young people in Finland are those under 30 years as defined by The Youth Act).
  • Youth Exchanges
  • Member European Youth Forum (YFJ), ERYICA and the member organisation for EYCA (European Youth Card Association)
More info: ENGLISH


Alliansi has a range of youth participation projects that it supports including:
  • Youth Councils
  • Youth Parliament
  • Youth Forums
  • A national Board of Youth Councils
But perhaps the most intriguing is a participation project run by Alliansi at www.valtikka.fi

This project actively promotes citizenship, E-democracy and politics by offering a discussion platform for young people involved, plus those who work with young people by offering lesson plans and other resources.

Also included on the website is a search engine realsted directly to upcoming EU elections. Young people can use this site to engage with parliament and each other in an on and offline environment.


"The Living Library"
This model comes from Denmark as a reaction to issues around racist violence and aims to break down prejudice and promote equality by encouraging participants to engage in dialogue with those whom they rarely have the opportunity to to talk to.

The model centers on the "living book" who is a volunteer with a paticular story/experience/background (plus support and training prior to the event) that can be "borrowed" by participants through the facilitation of a "librarian", who has a "catalogue" of "books" (topics/issues).

This encourages the "reader" to "borrow" "books" relating to issues that directly affect them and thus provide an opportunity discuss those issues directly; face to face.

There are a few rules:
  • Based on mutual respect
  • The "reader" must return the "book" in the same physical and mental condition as it was "borrowed".
  • The "book" can end the discussion at any time.
The "borrowing" lasts 20mins-1 hour and is facilitated by the "librarian". The "reader" then completes an evaluation form.

More complete information on this model at living-library.org

GAIA - Assembly of the Nations

This is a role playing game based around the themes of human rights, diversity, democracy, decision making, the environment, peace, equality and development.

The game features a parallel planet Earth (Gaia) which must be prevented from total destruction by the Assembly of Nations (the players) who must find common and agreeable solutions to the problems that the planet faces.

Full manual and game cards available at www.keks.fi/gaiaenglish (ENGLSIH VERSION)


This festival project is housed within Alliansi and was developed from the young people's Art Festival established in 1970.

It comprises of two national festivals as well as 20-30 regional festivals across Finland which provide opportunities for young people to showcase their talent and receive feedback from professional artists.

In 2008 there were more than 18000 participants nationally and as a result of the festivals some young people were able to take up the opportunity to travel as far as China and Trinidad and Tobago.

The aim for 2010 is to establish this cultural youth work as a part of every city's basic youth work.

A great line: "Young people should be seen and heard"


I must say I was extremely impressed with the strength and depth of Alliansi with regard to national, regional and international youth work.

For me, the model of the living library is something that will definitely be happening in Wales.

There seems to be a real serious intent in terms of both youth work professionals and the government here to promote, celebrate and encourage youth participation and engagement.

Many thanx to all there who have given such inspiration.

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