Creating a visible impact in the local community

Mobility projects come and go, but some of them actually leave something behind which can support the local community for years to come. Apart from the positive impact on the participants personal and professional development, we can also steer our projects towards making a visible change in the community.

Find out how we did it and what impact we had in some of the projects we implemented and how you can do it too!

What did we do?

Imagine a children library with lots of old furniture in the center of a big city. It has a warm-hearted staff who wants to create a positive environment for children, but it needs more support on infrastructure. And there is where Erasmus+ came in to help!

The Ion Creanga Children&Youth Library in Bucharest hosted one of our Stay Human Programme youth exchanges on Children Rights, and the participants really felt the need to leave something behind and also to give back for what they received there.

After a few debates and brainstorming sessions an interesting idea came up: what if we used upcycling techniques to upgrade the children furniture of the library?

The group then engaged with a local NGO which focuses on upcycling and 2 days later the work began! All participants from the youth exchange went to this NGO’s workshop to learn upcycling methods. The furniture was transported there and for 2 full days the entire group worked tirelessly to transform old furniture into creative, fun and positive new items. These were an instant success with the children from the local community.

Years later, the upcycled objects are still used and so the Erasmus+ project still has impact in the community in Bucharest.

This is just one example, but there are many others from our ImpACT+ programmes

In Lithuania we organised a youth exchange on LGBT rights which ended up with a public flashmob which attracted some serious press attention and raised awareness on the issues of the LGBT community. It’s still sometimes being mentioned in the local press in Vilnius, years later.

As part of the Big Questions of Life programme participants organized and gave workshops on these topics to high school students from the local community and were invited to carry out workshops back in their home communities as well.

Why did it work?

There was a good match between the needs of the local community and the motivation of the youth exchange participants;
During the youth exchange there was time allocated to the preparation and implementation of a local impact activity (towards the end of the exchange);
The selected ideas were actually useful, not “forced” just to justify the youth exchange activity;
The youth exchange participants developed new skills while creating the activity, thus increasing their motivation (eg. they discovered upcycling methods, how to organise a flashmob, increased their self-esteem and courage to do a public action etc.);
The activity was embedded in the local context: Local actors were involved in organising the actions (eg. the librarians, local NGOs, trainers who would offer skill transfers etc.);
Active and direct involvement of the entire group. All participants had the chance to contribute to the final idea and then to take part in making it a reality;
The topic of the project itself was adapted to the local reality of where the youth exchange took place, making it easier to come up with suitable ideas for the local impact activity;

What do you need to do it?

Project Context: Can be done in any Erasmus+ KA1 mobility project, whether a youth exchange or training/seminar project.

Local context:

  • The project should be connected either geographically and/or by its topic to the needs of the local community;
  • There should be potential to do an activity in a short amount of time, but with a visible impact. Think of this also as in corporate volunteering, where usually volunteers are only available for 1-4 days but can make a big change in the community;
  • Partnerships with local organizations, including other NGOs, press, public institutions, educational or cultural organizations;
  • Approvals obtained beforehand from the relevant local actors (eg. if you want to renovate a room, build a garden, organise a protest etc.);

Human resources & knowledge:

  • Trainer/facilitator/expert/invited person who can talk to the youth exchange participants about the local context, why the action is needed, how can they make a change + Provide the needed skills, if it’s the case;
  • Involvement of local actors, especially if there are beneficiaries of the action involved;

Material/Financial resources: Dedicated budget for the local activity, which can be used from the organisational support unit costs of the Erasmus+ project. The budget should be reasonable, enough to cover the costs, but also not exceeding reasonable expenditures on that action;

Time: Minimum 2 days dedicated to a local impact activity (should be planned as far in advance as possible, even from the application form stage);

How can you do it?

1. Agree with your internal team and partners that you all wish to have a local impact activity during your Erasmus+ mobility project.
2. Inform the participants before the mobility that a local action to support the local community is part of the programme.
3. When you plan the budget, allocate a minimum and maximum budget for the activity. Inform the group leaders/trainers about this amount.
4. Together with your team, identify possible local activities which can be useful, strongly connected to the topic of your project.
5. Contact possible local partners and enquiry about their needs. See what can be done in a short amount of time (1-2 days) which can also fit your budget and make a list of several options.
6. Make sure that all options provide learning opportunities for the participants while at the same time have a visible change for a beneficiary group.
7. Present the options/needs/problems to the project participants before the mobility.
8. During the mobility allow enough time for brainstorming and preparation. Let the participants identify practical solutions to the problems/needs you presented.
9. Choose in the group through a participatory method the best solution which fits the time and budget allocated.
10. Inform in a timely manner the local partner(s) about the decision and start planning the implementation. Make sure that all participants will be properly equipped with the needed know-how. Also, do not forget about the protection and safety of the participants.
11. Allow a minimum of half a day for the detailed planning of the activity by the participants. Make sure roles and rules are clear, planning is tight and there are all aspects taken into consideration (including transportation, costs, reimbursements, who is buying what and when etc.).
12. Bring the event to the attention of the press and make it visible through social media. You can also ask for local volunteers to help, if needed!
13. After the event, organise a reflection session with the participants. Focus on the learning outcomes, what went good, what could have been improved.
14. Disseminate the results of your event after the mobility ends.

How was it for the young people?

"When we were at the Baltic Pride I held a very big banner, just a week or a couple of days before those attacks from Orlando took place when a bunch of weirdos entered and short everyone, and I had a banner with “We are Orlando”. And the choreography was two or three persons, because the banner was quite big, to hold and show it to everyone, and the other participants, basically, to lay down on the floor as a sign of solidarity. That was a moment of maximum intensity for me."

"I remember when women from the shelter for abused women visited and told us their stories. I still remember how everybody cried. Some people were personally touched. Some even left the room."

"A moment that was so memorable, a specific holiday that was celebrated in a small village where we went up to. There was a small field where a ceremony was taking place around a bonfire, with people dancing, holding hands and making flower crowns. They just welcomed us foreigners with open arms. It was so nice to be a part of that small community as normally we would never be able to experience that. I loved that so much, it showed again the beauty of sharing your culture, and that people are amazing no matter their differences, while they are together in unity."

This story was coordinated by the Young Initiative Association (Romania) in collaboration with the ImpACT+ project partners.

Find out more about the organization at younginitiative.org .

The information reflected in this material is the sole responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the position of the European Commission.


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