My observations following the Project meeting in Romania were further strengthened during the meeting in Turkey, and ironically shared by my Project colleague David who also attended his first meeting in Turkey as a ‘learner’.
My career job was for a highly competitive international business, and therefore my approach and thoughts are influenced by this, albeit they are tempered by working recently in the UK charitable sector.
My first observation is that the history of Romania (and maybe Turkey?) is that in a previously communist/socialist ‘centralist’ State, Community Development/Social Inclusion could properly be the responsibility amongst other Government Departments, of the Regional/Local Education Authority on a ‘top-down’ basis. Thus Community Mentoring might be seen as a form of Adult Education for example. In the UK, the Local Education Authorities would not have a definitive Community Development/Social Inclusion responsibility per se and some of the responsibility would be taken-up by ‘bottom-up’ Third Sector/Charitable organisations through local authority Tenders and Third Party funding bids.
Regardless none of this negates from the Project’s identification of Community Mentoring best practice (maybe represented by more than one model?) and a mentee training programme framework (to be amended to meet local needs).
However my second observation is more of a concern and is very much based on my commercial business background. Increasingly as the Project evolves, I can foresee that the Project objectives will be satisfactorily met. Community Mentoring best practice, despite the cultural, social and political differences in the participating countries, will have been identified. At best, local partners will share this outcome within their own immediate communities and as such the EU investment in the Project could be justified at least in the short-term.
However I feel that this financial investment could be even more financially justifiable if the EU were then to grant national Project participants further funding to promote the agreed Community Mentoring model(s) across their respective countries through identified Regional partners, who in turn with funding over time would do the same within their Regions. Although this would be a very costly exercise overall, in this way the benefits of Community Mentoring would become an integral part of Community Development/Social Inclusion best practice across some of the EU – otherwise I fear that the progress achieved by the end of the current Project will be short-lived, and thus the EU funding of the Project will not prove to be value-for-money over the medium term. If such an outcome was anticipated in a commercial business environment, I doubt whether the initial Project proposal and associated funding would have been agreed.
I would recommend that these concerns and sentiments are included in the final Project report.
by UK Learner (Kaleidoscope, UK)