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Work for optimism, hope and trust

Jaana Fedotoff

Development Manager,

Koordinaatti

Kuvaus

Article by Koordinaatti´s Development Manager Jaana Fedotoff, former ERYICA President (2016 – 2022) from Finland. Her time as president has been a time of development and many significant changes has been made. The European Youth Information and Counselling Agency (ERYICA) is an independent European organization, composed of national and regional youth information coordination bodies and networks from 25 countries. It works to intensify European and international cooperation in the field of Youth Information work and services. Jaana expresses her gratitude for the past six years and underlines why there is a need to invest in the development of youth information and counselling work in every level in Europe.
Seven smiling people standing next to each other holding plaques that says: Information you can trust.

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Youth Information and Counselling have always been my professional ambition and interest. I have been involved in the ERYICA network since 1987. My motivation is not lower today than it was when I started. I am still working for a better future for young people. I trust the work I am doing, but my time as the President of ERYICA came to an end at the 33rd ERYICA General Assembly. It is time to move on, and I happily gave my seat to the new ERYICA President, Patrick Burke from Youth Work Ireland. 

The power of change is in us

When elected in 2016, I promised I would put my knowledge and experience at the service of ERYICA and its members. At the time, I thought I knew a lot about youth work, youth policy and youth information and counselling in Europe, and I did. Nevertheless, there was a lot more to learn. Over the past six years, I have gained a vast amount of knowledge and wisdom thanks to our members, partners and stakeholders. I have also learnt from the young people I have met from all over Europe. Thank you for trusting me and supporting me over these years. 

It was a great pleasure for me to welcome the participants of ERYICA's 33rd General Assembly on 11-13 May. The GA is the year's leading event for the ERYICA members, so I was extremely pleased to finally meet so many of you face-to-face after two years of facing only screens. I sincerely thank our member, the Catalan Youth Agency, for their great support and for making this fantastic event possible. 

I would also like to thank all our members, partners, and stakeholders for their efforts to provide quality information services for young people during these challenging times. We have strengthened our knowledge and experience by cooperating and keeping in contact using technologies in very qualitative and creative ways. 

Young people need hope and optimism

The most important thing is that we have managed to reach out to young people using multichannel solutions when we could not keep youth information centres open. 
We do not know still the extent to which the pandemic has impacted young people's information needs and expectations. 

The way ERYICA members have been working and their efforts to support and inform young people has been unique. The last two years have indeed marked our lives and how we work and, more importantly, young people's lives. We cannot underestimate the difficulties young people have encountered during this period and still face today. We are here to support them today and in the future. We are here to enhance their hopes, facilitate solutions, and rebuild their trust in society. 

And we do not forget young people in Ukraine, their need for support, and their rights - among them the right to information. We are trying to find ways to support them the best we can. We need to do this together. There is still a lot to be done; our work will continue. 

We celebrated young people and youth participation in Barcelona, especially the launch ERYICA Youth Ambassadors Commission (EYAC). The EYAC results from the years of reflection on the best possible ways of involving youth in ERYICA's governance, activities, and advocacy efforts.

Quality YI services are key

We also celebrate the European Quality Label of Youth information! The need to create a quality label has been discussed for a long time, years indeed. And now it is ready. I want to express my gratitude to the quality label working group and task force. The quality label is an important landmark in ERYICA's history. Today, we are a stronger and more competent organisation. We have all done it together!

I want to thank our members and warmly welcome the new ERYICA members who joined us in the past few years. My sincere gratitude also goes to our partners and stakeholders for their professional cooperation and support. We work together for the benefit of all young people. 

I wish to give a special thanks to Catalan Youth Agency for hosting us in Barcelona and their hospitality! I could not have expected a warmer atmosphere to conclude my presidency. 

The future is ours to create

Six years are not a piece of cake, but I think it may have been my cup of tea.

I want to express my gratitude to the Secretariat's staff for their work, especially our Director Eva Reina, who has been my support and anchor in managing all the duties, tasks, and challenges of the presidency. We learnt a lot together - it was a good mix of north and south in many ways. I also want to thank Imre Simon, who has always been of great help and a key information source. 

The work of a president is not only during the Board meetings - often, most of the work is between the meetings. And that work is not always visible. I hope my dedication has been seen in what ERYICA has achieved during the last two Board mandates (2016 – 2022). 

I want to thank the two Boards I have worked with. We did very well together. We made several crucial decisions for the benefit of our members and young people. My team Koordinaatti and the City of Oulu have always supported my work, being my base and trusted background to do my best. 

Now it is time to warmly welcome the new Board and President and wish them all the best during their mandate. 

Thank you for giving me a once in a lifetime experience! 

Jaana Fedotoff

 

Photo copyright: ERYICA

The article has been published on ERYICA's web site.

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