The Center for Positive Youth Development (CEPORA) recently organized a training for peer mentors who can respond to the needs of children and youth from the social welfare system, in Vršac, Serbia
Lidija Bukvić, Program Director of CEPORA, gave an overview of the situation:
When it comes to children and youth in the social welfare system, many people find it difficult to see them with the same eyes as all other children when they know their stories. In fact, they rarely actually know their stories—the mere fact that they are in the social welfare system is enough for people to have a lot of assumptions about them and to be sorry for their situation, or more specifically, be sorry for them. However, then, to the best of their intentions, they do not actually provide adequate support for the development of these children and youth. The most common forms of citizen support are reflected in one-off actions. Those actions, such as giving New Year's presents, are of great importance, indeed, but they are not sufficient to provide adequate support to these groups of children and youth.
Subsequently, CEPORA’s four-day training in Vršac brought together experts in the field of social welfare and non-formal education with young people from the social welfare system. Together they discussed a peer mentoring model that could be used in the system, and how this support could be implemented in a way that would yield the best results. The training was conducted within the project, ‘Peer Mentors in Action: Social Inclusion through Peer Mentoring’, with the financial support of the Erasmus+ Program of the European Union and the Ministry of Youth and Sports of the Republic of Serbia.
Bukvić noted: Peer mentoring is a great tool to support children and youth in the system, especially if other young people who have been in their position in the past are recruited for mentors, and if they receive training and regular supervision. It is a model that gives the opportunity to gain new friendship, but also a role model from someone who is just a little older than them, and to get the feeling that someone really understands them, that they are interested in them, but essentially, realistically, without pity and concessions because of their situation. They get someone who is there for them, expects a lot of them and is there to go through different challenges with them.
The results of the training, good practice proposals and scientific research on this topic will be summarized in a guide for launching and running a peer mentoring program for youth that will be released in 2020. It will be available free of charge on the CEPORA website (www.cepora.org).
The project is being implemented by the Center for Positive Youth Development (CEPORA), an organisation based in Belgrade, Serbia, which has contributed to the positive development of children and youth for eight years, and leads numerous projects in this field, in partnership with the Hungarian organisation, Legjobb vagyok.