22 September 2023 – As part of the PreseNEETi se project, the Norwegian delegation visited Celje, Ljubljana, and Maribor between September 12th and 14th, 2023, to learn about best practices in working with young people facing mental health challenges and the NEET population (individuals aged up to 29 who are not in education, employment, or training).
Last year’s study visit to Norway in the framework of the PreseNEETi se project, supported by the Norway Grants, unexpectedly brought the first concrete results in the field of strengthening bilateral cooperation between the two countries, which were not even foreseen in the application itself. The University for Adult Education Celje hosted a Norwegian delegation from the organisation From Victim to Warrior, which the Slovenian partners met during their study visit to Norway. Remarkably, the Norwegians, of their own initiative, reciprocated the visit.
Over three days, eight representatives from the organisation and the local authority of Hå, near Stavanger, were given presentations on organisations and institutes working with young people up to the age of 29. The guests first got an insight into the work of the University for Adult Education Celje, including the PreseNEETi se project, and other youth work programmes. They also met young people and their mentors in the PUM-O+ programme, visited the Institute Vir, and were impressed by the “This is Me” programme of the National Institute of Public Health.
In Ljubljana, the members of the Norwegian delegation learned about the work of Slovenian Philanthropy and the importance of volunteering. They also visited the Borc Community Centre, which operates under the auspices of the public institution Young Dragons On the last day, they spent the day at Vetrinjski dvor in Maribor with Katarina Babič and Katja Sreš learning about social entrepreneurship. There was also a workshop for processing impressions and reflecting on the visit itself, facilitated by the Norwegian partner in the project, Veiledernettverket NOSCO, via the Zoom platform, during which the guests emphasised that the organised programme had exceeded their high expectations. The day ended with a pleasant social gathering and a discussion on the next steps of cooperation.
The exchange of experiences between Norway and Slovenia showed that both countries face the same challenges when working with young people with mental health problems. It is encouraging to see that both countries focus on empowering young people and strengthening their identity, rather than just diagnosing them. In both countries, the importance of working with the family environment of young people is also significant.
The PreseNEETi project partners have proved over the past days that Norwegians can learn a lot from them too. The Norwegian delegation returned home with a wealth of new ideas and a desire for further collaboration in the field of working with young people facing mental health challenges and for whom the conventional system may not be suitable. Similarly, Slovenian project partners, University for Adult Education Celje, the University of Maribor, the Employment Service of the Republic of Slovenia, and the Slovenian Youth Council, are also looking forward to further cooperation and engagement in this important field.
Author: University for Adult Education Celje, PreseNEETi se Project Promoter