EFS package of activities

In the two-year project European Fair Skills, CI and local partner organisations in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary modified various good practice concepts which have been developed and tested by CI in Germany since 2008: the Fair Skills youth culture concept, including workshops for young people and train-the-trainer workshops for multipliers, the LocalDerad trainings for social workers dealing with right-wing extremist milieus (Hako_reJu), the WomEx methods, working on gender identity concepts, and the Narrative Approach (derad-narratives).  Based on these good practice concepts the European Fair Skills project has developed and implemented a package of activities in each country  in order to address different aspects of the community-embedded prevention of group hatred, hate crime, and violent right-wing extremism.

LocalDerad training programme

The LocalDerad training programme is an integrated concept for dealing professionally with right-wing extremism and group hatred via youth work, youth welfare, and community work. LocalDerad trains professionals to strategically address various forms of discrimination, group hatred, and violent behaviour among young people in youth work settings.

The goals of the LocalDerad training programme

  • to recognise and assess the potential risks and contextual factors of right-wing extremism and different forms of group hatred in the region (e.g. racism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, etc.)
  • to become aware of the resources, potentials, limitations, and risks involved in dealing with these phenomena within the context of existing youth work
  • to develop, plan, implement, and evaluate a systematic step-by-step strategy for various local and professional contexts
  • to identify and develop the skills and capacities need for practising sustainable human rights-oriented youth work

Contents of the LocalDerad training programme

The core of the LocalDerad concept is a 5-phase intervention plan, which also provides the structure for the training programme. The original training programme, which was designed and tested in the model project in Germany, consists of five two-day modules. Since work environments or (international) projects often do not allow for such a timeframe, we developed a condensed two-day intensive training programme. This programme was implemented in the EFS project and largely comprised elements of phases 1 to 3 of the intervention plan. Phases 4 and 5 were included in the Fair Skills train-the-trainer courses and youth workshops.

Phase 1: Observation
A prerequisite for taking action against a problem is to become aware of it. Hence, the first skill required from a youth worker is to be able to recognise right-wing extremist symbols, codes, clothing brands, music groups, the increasingly diverse forms of expression common within the corresponding youth culture, and, of course, direct verbal remarks. Statements made by right-wing extremist girls and women, in particular, are often not recognised or taken seriously, even when it is well-known that they are very active in the scene or when they agitate and incite violence, or act violently themselves. In addition, the potential risks posed by adolescents whose forms of expression show an affinity to right-wing extremism must be more specifically and accurately observed.

Phase 2: Situation analysis
A local situation analysis closely assesses at-risk youth: this includes, for example, a well-trained look at clique structures or the degree of an adolescent’s commitment to the right-wing scene. The ability to systematically process observations and other information facilitates this task. Youth workers are thus given specific tools to independently assess what measures are useful and who must be consulted for implementation.

Phase 3: Building a team
The next important step is to build a team for carrying out the plan: Where can you receive information or assistance? Who in the region or community is already working with right-wing extremism/prevention? What kind of support can one receive there? Are there any local colleagues and institutions (schools, communities, local authorities, political organisations, police, associations, regional experts, exit support) with whom one could cooperate? In addition to possible local partners, are there any platforms for national discussion, professional guidance and, if necessary, coaching that could be helpful?

Phase 4: Planning activities
Planning steps of action and self-evaluation: Based on the results of the situation analysis and information on relevant stakeholders, the next step is to develop a schedule and plan of operation including specific goals and steps for implementation. However, this plan should not be adhered to too rigidly. Instead, it should be viewed as a process during which it is important to meet as a team and talk about measures, encounters, and results. Clear criteria and indicators help to assess objectives on a regular basis and thus carry out a self-evaluation. Here, the EFS “(Self-) Evaluation Tool for Quality Assurance” (see above) provides a useful toolkit. Furthermore, security aspects must also be taken into consideration.

Phase 5: Implementation of measures
To carry out the methods and intervention, two levels of action need to be taken into account at all times. The first level is the proactive management of right-wing extremist phenomena. This refers to direct interaction with adolescents who are vulnerable to right-wing extremism, the introduction of youth welfare provisions, and clearly defined rules about approaching and dealing with these young people in youth centres. The second level includes the wide range of preventive measures that make it possible to provide long-term support for young people who represent pro-social and non-extremist attitudes in support of human rights. A well-thought-out organisation of youth centres as well as programmes with regular project-related activities can contribute to sustainably fostering an adolescent’s ability to engage in democratic participation, their social and emotional competence, gender awareness, and to promoting human rights among children and youth.

Methods of the LocalDerad training programme

During the five phases of the intervention plan, the components of the training are implemented using different methods, such as theoretical discussion, group work, group discussion, interactive methods, and role plays.

In a theoretical introduction and follow-up discussion, the participants learn about aspects of prejudice, group hatred, and right-wing extremism. Activities that are suitable for situation analysis, individual assessment, group processes, and communities are presented and applied individually and in small groups. Furthermore, the participants also become aware of the limits of what they can achieve and about specific possibilities for making referrals, receiving support, and implementing security structures in their professional contexts.

The training programme emphasises real practice, i.e. the participants discuss their own professional backgrounds, cases, and experiences, which are then used as the basis for an analysis and to develop and plan measures for prevention and intervention. Again, in order to successfully work with clients, it is crucial to encounter young people on equal terms, to accept them as individuals but also be critical of and confront their actions and attitudes. These two aspects should be given equal emphasis. This requires an understanding of the personal backgrounds of the youth and it means engaging in narrative dialogue about individual experiences, as well as questioning certain opinions and behaviours. In interactive role plays, the participants practice these educational intervention techniques, receive feedback from colleagues, and discuss possible ways to address and resolve the conflicts and quandaries which are inherent in their specific case stories. A particular emphasis is placed on methods for working with gender identity concepts and conflicts – similar to those applied in CI’s WomEx project on women and gender in extremism and prevention.

The participants thus have the opportunity to become familiar with CI’s youth culture concept – as one possible approach to prevention work – and eventually develop their own action plan for human rights-oriented youth work in their fields of work.

Fair Skills train-the-trainer courses

In the Fair Skills train-the-trainer courses participants are taught to implement CI’s Fair Skills activities and adapt them to meet the needs of their work environments and local circumstances. These courses are mainly about illustrating opportunities that are inherent in the youth culture concept that can help to sustainably prevent group hatred and violent extremism. They focus on teaching strategies and methods for non-formal and process-oriented civic education, with the aim of activating the young people’s resources as well as recognising and effectively addressing the discriminating and intolerant attitudes that are always present in heterogeneous youth groups. The basis for achieving this is the critical yet accepting frame of mind of the facilitators which was mentioned above. This attitude emphasises a mutual interest in and respect of others and the importance of meeting other people on equal footing, but it also involves setting clear boundaries to destructive behaviour or utterances of contempt, since such boundaries are needed to ensure a pro-social atmosphere.

The broad and diverse target group for these courses includes people, (a) who work in the fields of civic education and human rights education, (b) who are active in youth cultures and interested in working with young people, (c) who are social and youth workers, and, finally, (d) young people themselves who want to learn something new, engage in community-building and/or find out about career paths in these areas. 

Hence, the Fair Skills train-the-trainer courses are designed as a peer learning process across different age groups and professions. A wide variety of people from different fields and walks of life therefore come together and learn from one another. They acquire the skills needed to independently implement youth culture work that focuses on human rights. Moreover, they are given opportunities to gain a perspective which can help them to take a clear social and political stance in everyday situations while also remaining open for dialogue and steer clear of fruitless polarisation. Since participants come from very different backgrounds, each of them can contribute their particular skills and experiences to civic education, social and youth work, narrative group work, or youth culture and media practice/education. At the same time, the participants can enhance their knowledge and pedagogical skills through techniques from those parts of the Fair Skills concept with which they were less familiar.

In the two- to five-day training courses, participants are given theoretical and practical information. They are trained in methods for implementing youth culture and non-formal civic education and employing preventive activities for youth – with the goal of strengthening the young people’s democratic and human rights awareness as well as their pro-social skills at large.

Fair Skills youth workshops

Those wishing to engage young adults from various different milieus and backgrounds in political issues and the democratic process must reach out to youth in their everyday environment by offering appealing educational programmes and establishing positive relationships. CI’s Fair Skills concept takes an active interest in various youth cultures and media, which helps them to reach out to young people. By incorporating these youth culture and media interests of adolescents into a variety of non-formal, low-threshold educational programmes, CI is able to address various forms of discrimination, prejudice and resentment as well as to create opportunities for youth participation and empowerment.

In parallel, the workshops, which offer group settings, are places for social learning that encourage debates on social coexistence. The do-it-yourself (DIY) and peer learning concepts, which are immanent in youth cultures, or civil rights and anti-racist traditions serve as door openers.

Many of the youth culture and media practices, e.g. breakdancing, rap, poetry slam, digital music production, videos and YouTube, DJing, skateboarding, parkour, comics, and graffiti are an ideal basis for motivating young people to engage in practical educational programmes. They also serve as ideal starting points for civic education. By meeting young adults on equal terms, issues such as the primary and secondary prevention of right-wing extremism, group hatred or religiously motivated intolerance can be addressed through topics that are of interest to young people, such as the history of and current developments in hip hop.

Many of the creative activities found in youth cultures also offer opportunities for meaningful personal experiences, give young people a sense of self-efficacy, and are a lot of fun. CI’s youth representatives are role models who embody a large variety of different views of life. They allow the concepts of DIY and peer learning to become tangible in everyday life, show young people new possibilities for participating in society – some of which are inherent in youth culture. In this relatively laid-back manner, CI’s Fair Skills workshops address the following important topics:

  • phenomena related to group hatred/violence, e.g. racism, sexism, homo-, and transphobia
  • more subtle forms of verbal psychological violence, e.g. harassment
  • experiences of discrimination
  • social, political, and cultural participation
  • human rights and an inclusive society
  • immigration, refugees, and asylum
  • gender identities

CI sees gender-reflected work as a cross-sectional task. This is reflected in the fact that gender issues are taken into consideration when selecting workshops and putting together workshop teams. For example, girls* can wish for a girls’ workshop. Female facilitators are then chosen for Grrrl Power workshops. If a boys*-only workshop takes place, male role models are often discussed. However, topics related to gender roles, gender identities, and corresponding prejudice are discussed in all workshops with a focus on youth culture and media.

Gender is also an important factor when selecting facilitators for workshops. In gender-mixed settings we make sure that both male* and female* facilitators are present, and, if applicable, choose facilitators according to the gender needs of a group. CI’s facilitators have a variety of skills, from experience in different (youth) cultures, ethnic minorities, different gender identities, etc. and are therefore able to share a wide range of insight in the workshops.

Regional round tables

The project was accompanied throughout by regional round tables, which included not only the youth workers and in some instances the young people, but also summoned representatives from governmental and non-governmental institutions on local, regional, and national levels, along with stakeholders and experts from a variety of relevant fields, and contact persons from local media. The practitioners met with these representatives and exchanged – in some cases for the first time –about the challenges of the region with regard to group hatred and violent extremism and about possible measures of inter-agency collaboration between local actors in prevention and intervention.  The second round table also comprised an input on the methods and principles of disengagement mentorship delivered by the German Association of Exit Practitioners which was build up in recent years with the help of EFS project partner Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.

In the horizontal dimension the round tables helped to promote local networks and collaborations between relevant community stakeholders. Attendants were informed about the youth workshops and training programmes so that they could help to integrate them into the community’s educational and youth welfare programmes. Furthermore, local colleagues were encouraged to form standing task forces and inter-agency case conferences with a permanent view on issues of group hatred and extremism among local youth and in national milieus and political parties. Since these networks may also be helpful to make self-organised EFS workshops available on a quite affordable scale, further EFS activities are likely to be pursued at local level after the completion of the project.

In the vertical dimension the round tables helped to raise awareness of the challenges in various structures of regional and national policymaking. Here EFS was sometimes included into quasi-diplomatic communications with various administrations and at times met high-ranking state representatives. These representatives were genuinely interested in what can be done to meet the challenges in sustainable ways. They also sought EU-informed consultancy which was not impregnated with the predominantly Islamism-focused discourses of many of the central EU activities. Since these discourses on Islamism have proven entirely counterproductive in Central and Eastern European countries, where any discourse on Islamism is instantly abused to back up anti-refugee populism, equating refugees with terrorists.