An intercultural policy – like any other policy – is a kind of roadmap that your organisation lays out for you and others to follow. It sets out your aims and principles and how you are going to achieve these. It places the work you are doing in a legal context by citing equality legislation and how it relates to working with young people from a minority ethnic or cultural background. It also sets out disciplinary procedures for situations when your stated principles are broken either by staff, volunteers or members.
Policies are statements of practice. They should reflect your practice and be fully implemented. Different organisations take different approaches to this. Some opt to write an Intercultural Strategy which sets out a more detailed way of achieving intercultural youth work while others write Inclusion Policies that cover intercultural youth work together with working with other marginalised young people. Whatever approach is taken it is important that it is written in consultation with all your team and that as a group you take ownership of it. It is also crucial that all of your staff, volunteers and members are aware of it and familiar with it.
Good Practice in developing your policy…
Groups tend to be at various different stages in terms of setting their work on a policy footing. Localise, for example, are currently drafting their constitution. Within one of its sections entitled ‘Caring in the Community’ they will be able to include what they describe as ‘their integration policy’.
Some groups belong to much bigger organisations and it is here that the responsibility for policy development lies. For both the Castlebar Neighbourhood Youth Project (NYP) andTyrrelstown Youth Initiative, this is the case with both being part of Foróige. While Tyrrelstown Youth Initiative was specifically set up as an intercultural project, Castlebar NYP has a remit to work with young people at risk and as such they have an intercultural focus as a number of young people in their area from minority ethnic backgrounds have been identified as having personal, social, and educational needs. Both would fall under Foróige’s principles and ethos. To support its groups nationally, Foróige Headquarters have developed an Intercultural Strategy – initially rolled out in the Blanchardstown and Tallaght areas of Dublin. In 2010 the Strategy will be rolled out nationally and will offer an intercultural procedural framework for all Foróigeyouth groups in the country. Similarly, the SPARK project (Youth Work Ireland Galway) relies on the policy framework set out by the head office of Youth Work Ireland Galway who have an equality statement in place that sets out good practice and this would include young people from a minority ethnic background as well as Travellers.
“Policies aren’t as hard to write as people think. They start off with the organisation’s mission statement and guiding principles. Then a policy statement that says you are committed to intercultural youth work. Then you give the reasons for doing it (such as demographics in your community). After that you lay out what the responsibility of staff members is toward interculturalism and how you will implement the policy. This follows with a piece on your complaints and disciplinary procedures and finally a contextual piece on equality legislation. We have a template at NYCI and a 2-day training course to help people through it.” (NYCI Intercultural Officer)
Youth groups should include anti-racism measures in their group contract. This process can in turn be used to adopt a wider Anti-Racism Code of Practice for the entire youth organisation as part of policy development.
Because of what is perceived as the complexity of writing a policy that would cover all of an organisation’s activities, some groups have found ways to write procedural documents for themselves as smaller groups within a larger structure. This has been the case for the No. 4 drop-in centre (Galway Diocesan Youth Services) who have decided to write their own intercultural strategy as a guide going forward.
Additional Resources/Training on developing your Policy:
- NYCI training, particularly “Developing Intercultural Policies and Implementation Plans” www.intercultural.ie/training
- NYCI ‘Access All Areas’ Diversity Toolkit for the youth sector http://www.youth.ie/diversity
- Equality Authority www.equalityauthority.ie
- Anti-Racism Code of Practice template available from www.intercultural.ie
How would you rate?/How is your organisation doing?
- Castlebar Neighbourhood Youth Project ‘Talking Heads’ project , Foróige http://www.foroige.ie/index.cfm?fuseaction=Neighbourhood_Youth_Projects&content_id=22
- Localise, Multicultural School www.localise.ie
- No. 4 Drop-in centre, Galway Diocesan Youth Service (GDYS) http://www.gdys.org/index.php?page=tagaste-house
- Ógra Chorcaí, Bishopstown Youth Project; contactable through this forum: http://homepage.eircom.net/~clvyc/home.html
- Tyrrelstown Youth Initiative, Foróige http://www.foroige.ie/index.cfm?fuseaction=Local_Youth_Services&content_id=16
- VSI (Voluntary Service International), Dublin, Teenage Programme http://www.vsi.ie/volunteer/teenage.html
- Youth Work Ireland, Galway, SPARK (Support Project for Asylum Seeker and Refugee Kids) http://www.youthworkgalway.ie/projects.php?project=24
- YMCA Cork, Ninos Club http://www.ymcacork.org/index.htm
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