Category: Education

Young people wield the power to bolster trust in Local Government

The resource that is often underestimated but can significantly contribute to the progress of local governments is youth. Yes, young people sometimes grow impatient with the pace of progress in their communities and may even take it for granted, but they are a valuable resource. They can serve as a primary catalyst in a strategy designed to engage and empower residents by their respective Local Governments.

Often, youth are overlooked when discussing strategies aimed at increasing resident participation. This oversight can occur for various reasons.

Perhaps because they don’t yet have voting rights, perhaps because they don’t pay taxes, perhaps because they don’t contribute directly to the country’s economy to the same extent, or perhaps because they lack property ownership, etc. Nevertheless, young people represent the future of our communities and our local and regional authorities.

In this context, Youth Councils are crucial; they represent a unique opportunity for Local Governments to infiltrate schools, colleges, and universities. They also provide a platform through which we can cultivate interest in Local Government, promote the principles of local democracy, and foster the concept of direct participation in decision-making processes that affect us directly. Typically, when young people engage themselves, they are more likely to remain actively involved in their local community, establishing themselves as participating residents.

Local Youth Councils can also be instrumental in addressing the erosion of trust in Local Councils. It’s possible that trust in Local Councils has waned somewhat, and this can be attributed to various factors. I also consider external influences, although the reasons may vary. Certainly, the pandemic hasn’t helped much as physical distancing has created a certain disconnect, we were almost beginning to overcome.

What does it offer in terms of participation?

When sections of society have experienced marginalization for an extended period, it’s conceivable that council members may not fully grasp the significance of integrating these groups into the council’s efforts. Frequently, the enthusiasm and innovative outlook of younger individuals can facilitate connections with these marginalized groups and construct bridges that previously might have been overlooked as unnecessary. Numerous instances of successful approaches substantiate this assertion, both domestically and internationally.

Ensuring full participation in decision-making processes is not just a mere aspiration; it is a fundamental right deeply rooted in the principles of the universal declaration of human rights. By actively engaging young people in these processes, we empower them to shape and implement initiatives they believe will benefit both themselves and their communities, while fostering their involvement in the development of their localities. However, it’s crucial not only to afford them the opportunity to contribute but also to support them in honing their skills in ways that serve others. This approach not only guarantees and ensures that tomorrow’s adult residents possess a strong civic sense but also leads to a myriad of benefits for the locality as a whole. From improved community cohesion to innovative solutions for local challenges, the active involvement of young people in decision-making processes lays the groundwork for a more inclusive, vibrant, and prosperous society.


In addition, young people have various opportunities for skill exchange to enhance their abilities in this regard. The Erasmus+ program, funded by European sources, serves as a prime example of this. Let’s take a closer look at this initiative and how it can assist young individuals in acquiring the necessary skills.

This program supports activities beyond formal education and training that encourage, empower, and facilitate the participation of young people in the democratic life of Europe at local, regional, national, and European levels.

Erasmus+ serves as a cornerstone in fostering youth-led participation projects at various levels, be it local, national, transnational, or international. These endeavors, spearheaded by young individuals and overseen by informal youth groups or organizations, represent a concerted effort to bolster democratic engagement among Europe’s youth populace. They are driven by a multifaceted approach aimed at achieving one or more of the following overarching objectives:

  • They play a pivotal role in providing young individuals with invaluable opportunities to actively engage and develop their participation skills within civil society. These pathways not only facilitate youth involvement in their daily activities but also extend to nurturing their engagement in democratic processes. The overarching goal is to cultivate meaningful involvement in various aspects of civic, economic, social, cultural, and political spheres among young people from diverse backgrounds. Moreover, there is a deliberate focus on ensuring that those facing greater barriers to participation are provided with targeted support, thereby promoting inclusivity and equity within society.
  • They play a crucial role in increasing awareness among young individuals regarding shared values and fundamental rights within Europe, thereby actively contributing to the ongoing process of European integration. This contribution extends to the attainment of one or more of the EU Youth Goals, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of the principles that underpin the European Union’s mission and objectives.
  • They develop the digital competencies and media literacy of young people, particularly critical thinking, and the ability to evaluate and work with information, with the aim of enhancing youth resilience to misinformation, fake news, and propaganda, as well as their ability to participate in democratic life.
  • They connect young people with decision-makers at the local, regional, national, and transnational levels, or contribute to the EU Youth Dialogue, facilitating meaningful engagement and participation in democratic processes.


The EU Youth Strategy 2019-2027 serves as a pivotal framework for fostering collaboration across Europe concerning youth affairs, drawing inspiration from the European Commission’s Communication issued on 22nd May 2018, titled “Engagement, Connection, and Empowerment of Youth”. Central to this strategy is the pivotal domain of “Involvement”, which seeks to propel the active engagement of young individuals across various spheres: be it civic, economic, social, cultural, or political. The overarching objective is to galvanize youth participation within democratic processes, amplifying their voices within societal discourse. Moreover, the strategy is dedicated to bolstering social cohesion and civic responsibility among young people, thereby fortifying the foundations of democratic societies. By equipping young individuals with the requisite resources and opportunities, the strategy endeavors to ensure their holistic integration into society, enabling them to contribute meaningfully to its development and progress.

The EU Youth Strategy also encompasses a dialogue process with young people. In this context, in 2018, 11 European youth goals were developed through a dialogue with young people. These goals identify a range of cross-sectoral areas impacting youth life and highlight the challenges that need to be addressed in each of them. In collaboration with relevant stakeholders and youth representatives, each 18-month cycle of the EU Youth Dialogue identifies specific thematic priorities. These priorities are carefully selected to guide the implementation focus of the EU Youth Strategy during that particular period. This dynamic dialogue process ensures that the strategy remains responsive to the evolving needs and concerns of young people, fostering a targeted and effective approach to address the various aspects of youth life across Europe.

Thematic strategies in the youth sector

The Erasmus+ program aims to promote youth participation, enhance the quality of informal and non-formal learning processes, and foster quality work among young people. Further support in these areas is available through specific thematic strategies, such as the Youth Participation Strategy, Youthpass, and the European Training Strategy (ETS).

Activity breakdown

Youth participation activities are non-formal learning activities that focus on active youth involvement. These activities aim to enable young people to experience exchanges, cooperation, cultural, and civic action. Supported activities help participants strengthen their personal, social, citizenship, and digital competencies, making them active European citizens.

This action supports the use of alternative, innovative, smart, and digital forms of youth participation, including expanding youth participation across various sectors and spaces (such as healthcare services, sports facilities, etc., regardless of whether they are operated by the public or private sector), thus opening up pathways for active youth participation from all backgrounds.

Youth engagement initiatives play a pivotal role in fostering dialogues and exchanges between young individuals and policymakers, thus bolstering their active involvement in democratic processes throughout Europe. This proactive engagement enables young people to effectively voice their perspectives by articulating their opinions, presenting proposals, and offering recommendations, particularly regarding the formulation and execution of youth policies across Europe. Furthermore, these activities extend beyond mere discourse, encompassing civic action and youth activism, empowering young individuals to engage in diverse avenues aimed at raising awareness about issues of significance to them.

Youth participation activities can be either transnational (implemented across one or more participating countries and involving informal groups of young people and/or organizations from different participating countries) or national (involving informal groups of young people and/or organizations from one participating country). National youth participation activities are particularly suitable for testing ideas at the local level and as a follow-up to previous initiatives, aiding in the refinement and further development of successful ideas.

All youth participation activities, regardless of the level at which they are implemented, need to have a clear European dimension and/or added value, and each supported individual activity must contribute clearly to achieving one or more of the objectives listed above.

Supported activities can encompass a variety of formats, either individually or in combination. These include workshops, debates, role-playing games, simulations, utilizing digital tools (such as those for digital democracy), awareness campaigns, training sessions, meetings, and other modes of online or offline interaction between young individuals and decision-makers. Additionally, supported activities may involve consultations, informational events, cultural gatherings, or any combination thereof.

Some of these activities can be implemented within a project:

  • Events such as workshops, face-to-face or online meetings, seminars, and other gatherings serve as vital platforms for the active engagement of young people across local, regional, national, and transnational levels within Europe. These events aim to facilitate information sharing, foster debate, and encourage the active participation of youth in matters directly impacting their daily lives as European citizens.
  • The primary objective of these events is to provide a forum where young individuals can not only gain valuable insights but also actively contribute to discussions on pertinent issues. Moreover, they offer opportunities for interaction with decision-makers and other stakeholders involved in addressing these concerns. By bridging the gap between youth and decision-makers, these events promote a more inclusive and democratic approach to governance, where the voices of young people are heard and considered in shaping policies and initiatives relevant to their communities and beyond.
  • Engaging in consultations with young individuals aimed at pinpointing subjects or queries that hold particular significance to them within local, regional, national, or transnational contexts. Through these consultations, the objective is to discern the specific needs of young people concerning their involvement in addressing these identified subjects or questions.
  • Initiating awareness campaigns with a focus on fostering youth engagement in democratic processes. These campaigns encompass a range of activities, including informational sessions and cultural events, strategically designed to address specific societal challenges pertinent to young individuals. Through these initiatives, the aim is to empower youth to actively participate in shaping democratic discourse and addressing issues that directly impact their lives.
  • Enabling young people to access inclusive and secure virtual or physical spaces, thereby granting them effective educational avenues to actively participate in civic life and democratic procedures. This facilitation aims to empower youth by providing them with the necessary resources and platforms to learn about and engage in democratic processes, fostering their sense of citizenship and community involvement.
  • Engaging in simulations that replicate the operations of democratic institutions and explore the responsibilities of decision-makers within them.

In contexts where applicable, there’s a strong recommendation to integrate digital activity formats and provide training on the utilization of digital democracy tools within youth participation projects. These initiatives should encompass a diverse range of activities designed to collectively advance towards the project’s envisioned goals. By incorporating digital components and fostering digital literacy among participants, these projects can effectively leverage technology to enhance youth engagement and facilitate their active involvement in democratic processes.

The funding for these activities predominantly comes from the “project management” budget category, which entails a monthly contribution per unit. Within this framework, the project activities typically encompass various facets such as project management meetings and consistently conducted project activities. Additionally, the project may incorporate one or more events centered around Youth Participation. This financing structure ensures sustained support for the implementation and coordination of initiatives aimed at fostering youth engagement and participation.

The designation “physical events” refers to gatherings crucial for advancing the project’s goals; they often signify pivotal milestones within the project timeline and must be clearly distinguished from ongoing project undertakings, whether in terms of content, scale, or attendee demographics. Additionally, a Youth Participation event denotes a physical assembly where young individuals are physically present, alongside other relevant participants. Such events attract not only members of informal groups or youths from beneficiary organizations directly engaged in project activities but also a diverse audience comprising young people and/or decision-makers. It’s imperative that the event’s duration aligns with planned activities and desired outcomes, accommodating variations in length, spanning from brief sessions lasting hours to comprehensive gatherings spanning multiple days. Specific assistance for organizing physical events is provided on a “per participant per event” basis, irrespective of event duration.

Youth participation projects that involve project activities or physical events requiring participants to travel to different locations from where they reside may be eligible for additional funding for mobility, which covers travel and subsistence support. Mobility Youth Participation projects can be both national and international, but they always support project activities funded through project management costs or youth participation event expenses.

Activities such as statutory meetings of organizations or networks, the arrangement of partisan political events, and investments in physical infrastructure (e.g., building construction or acquisition costs, as well as permanent fixtures) cannot be funded within the scope of this Action.

Projects demonstrating robust participation elements, extending beyond the conventional format of youth engagement activities, along with pertinent best practices, are accessible within the Youth Participation Tools Set.

An established project

A project endorsed by this Action ought to incorporate one or several of the aforementioned elements. These components can be dynamically integrated based on the project’s goals and the requirements of participating organization(s) and participants.

The execution of the project is carried out by either one or multiple informal youth groups, one or more organizations, or a combination thereof. It is imperative to identify the informal youth group(s) and/or participating organizations during the application phase. Additional youth may participate in the project as either active participants in certain activities or as constituents of the group targeting said activities. In cases where only an informal youth group is involved, an application is submitted by one of its members acting on behalf of the group. However, if multiple groups or organizations are engaged, one of them assumes the role of coordinator and submits the application for the entire project on behalf of the consortium.

A project is structured into four distinct phases: planning, preparation, implementation, and follow-up. It is crucial for both participating organizations and the youth involved to actively participate in each of these stages to enrich their learning journey. Through actively engaging in the planning, preparation, implementation, and follow-up phases, participants can significantly enhance their learning experience. Moreover, as the activities are tailored by youth for youth, it fosters a more relatable and engaging environment. Additionally, to further bolster youth participation, the Youth Participation Toolkit serves as a valuable resource, offering a plethora of ideas and practical guidance:

  • Planning Phase: This initial stage involves thorough planning encompassing the identification of needs, setting objectives, delineating learning outcomes, determining activity formats, devising program development strategies, and crafting a detailed activity schedule.
  • Preparation Phase: During this phase, practical arrangements are made, agreements are established with partners, and confirmation is sought from the targeted groups earmarked for the planned activities. Additionally, linguistic, intercultural, and preparatory measures related to participants’ learning and tasks are undertaken to ensure smooth execution
  • Implementation Phase: Here, the planned activities are put into action, with careful attention paid to adhering to the established schedule and executing each activity effectively.
  • Follow-up Phase: Following the completion of activities, this phase involves the evaluation of their effectiveness, the identification, and documentation of participants’ learning outcomes, and the dissemination and utilization of project outcomes. Notably, as part of this phase, it’s imperative for each project to devise a feedback mechanism to provide specific achievements to the youth participants. This feedback should also outline how these achievements will be communicated to relevant stakeholders and utilized by them.

EU Youth Dialogue

The themes and focal points outlined in the EU Youth Dialogue offer valuable inspiration for youth engagement initiatives across various levels. Likewise, the EU Youth Goals, established within the framework of the EU Youth Dialogue, provide additional avenues for inspiration. These goals pinpoint cross-sectoral domains impacting youth and highlight key challenges. Moreover, the outcomes achieved through successful youth participation endeavours can be leveraged as valuable contributions to advance subsequent stages of the EU Youth Dialogue.

The Learning processes

In a Youth Participation Activities project, it’s essential to incorporate assistance for fostering reflection, identifying, and documenting the individual learning accomplishments of every participant. This support should extend to all individuals involved, regardless of whether they belong to informal youth groups leading the project or are not actively engaged in the preparation and execution phases. A key avenue for facilitating this process is through mechanisms like the Youthpass.

Protection and Safety of Participants

Throughout the project planning and preparation phases, the issue of participant protection and safety must be addressed, with all necessary measures provided for the prevention and mitigation of risks.

Community Building

Encouraging the integration of community-building activities within youth participation initiatives is highly recommended. Whenever possible, these activities should strive to extend beyond the lifespan of the supported projects and evolve into self-sustaining endeavours.

Inclusion and diversity

The Erasmus+ program is dedicated to fostering equality, accessibility, inclusion, and fairness in all its endeavours. Applicants are mandated to devise projects that prioritize accessibility and inclusivity, ensuring that the perspectives of participants with fewer opportunities are taken into account and actively involved in the decision-making process.

Youth participation activities are particularly suitable for the inclusion of young people with fewer opportunities.

  • Youth participation activities are structured as fundamental action formats with extremely flexible parameters, including duration, participant numbers, and whether they are conducted on a national or transnational scale. This adaptability allows for easy customization to meet the specific needs of young people facing fewer opportunities.
  • Informal youth groups embarking on youth participation initiatives can receive valuable support through coaching services. These services play a crucial role in guiding and assisting young people, especially those facing fewer opportunities, throughout the development and execution phases of their projects.
  • The action objectives include providing opportunities for youth to participate in civic society, as well as improving digital and media literacy. Projects aligned with these goals can be particularly beneficial in helping young people facing fewer opportunities address some of the challenges they may encounter.

Youth participation activities are well-suited for addressing themes of inclusion and diversity within society. They serve as effective platforms to combat stereotypes, foster understanding, promote tolerance, and advocate for non-discrimination.

Environmental Sustainability

The primary objective of the project is to foster a culture of environmentally sustainable and responsible conduct among participants, emphasizing the critical need to mitigate or compensate for the environmental impact associated with mobility activities. This multifaceted endeavor involves not only raising awareness but also actively developing and implementing a range of environmentally conscious strategies. These strategies encompass various sustainable practices, including but not limited to the careful selection of materials that can be reused or have minimal environmental impact, robust waste reduction and recycling initiatives, and the promotion and adoption of sustainable transportation modes. By integrating these practices into the fabric of the project, we aim to instill a deep sense of environmental stewardship and inspire tangible action towards a more sustainable future.

Digital Transformation in the youth sector

The Erasmus+ program serves as a vital support system for all participating organizations, facilitating the seamless integration of digital tools and innovative learning methods into their existing frameworks. This integration aims to not only complement traditional physical activities but also to foster greater collaboration among partner organizations and elevate the overall quality of experiences offered. By advocating for the incorporation of digital and online elements, the program actively works to mitigate barriers that may impede youth participation and limit opportunities for engagement.

Moreover, Erasmus+ endeavors to catalyze a profound shift in perspective through a series of targeted projects and activities. These initiatives are designed to not only promote the acquisition of essential digital skills but also to address critical aspects of digital literacy. Additionally, they seek to cultivate a nuanced understanding of both the risks and the vast opportunities presented by digital technology in a contemporary society.

Through these concerted efforts, the Erasmus+ program seeks to initiate a transformative process, altering entrenched mindsets and fostering a culture of digital innovation and adaptability. By nurturing a generation of digitally savvy individuals, the program aims to contribute significantly to the ongoing evolution of digital approaches and components within the realm of youth activities, ultimately empowering young people to thrive in an increasingly digital world.

In alignment with the activities’ definitions and objectives, integrating the development of competencies and awareness surrounding digital issues, along with the incorporation of new technologies, can be seamlessly woven into physical events or learning mobility initiatives. However, it’s important to note that purely virtual components should be allocated separate funding streams, distinct from project management expenses.

Furthermore, justified expenditures aimed at fostering the inclusion of youth with fewer opportunities can be channelled through participant inclusion support mechanisms. This approach ensures that financial resources are allocated strategically, maximizing the impact of the program while safeguarding equitable access for all participants.


The Erasmus+ program supports all participating organizations in enhancing the quality of their projects by integrating participatory dimensions. Simultaneously, it provides relevant opportunities for youth to actively engage in the creation and implementation of project activities, serving as a pathway for discovering the benefits of active citizenship and participation in democratic life. Resources for strengthening the participatory dimensions of supported projects can be accessed, among other avenues, through the website Additionally, organizations are encouraged to establish connections with national, international, or other existing EU initiatives and platforms focused on participation and civic engagement, fostering collaboration and involvement therein.

Who can apply?

Any eligible participating organization established in a Member State of the EU or in an associated third country to the Program can be the applicant. This organization applies on behalf of all participating organizations involved in the project.

Eligible participating organizations

The participating organization can be:

  • An organization without a profit motive, association, NGO; European Youth NGO; public body at the local, regional, national level; social enterprise; a profit-oriented organization with active Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR);
  • An informal group of young people.

Established in a Member State of the EU or in an associated country to the Programme or in a non-associated country to the Programme within the EU’s geographical area (Regions 1 to 4; refer to the “Eligible Countries” section in Part A of this Guide).

Number and profile of participating organizations

  • National Youth Participation Projects: Require the involvement of a minimum of one participating organization.
  • Transnational and International Youth Participation Projects: Require the participation of at least two organizations from different countries.

Eligible Participants

Young people between the ages of 13 and 30, residing in the country where the participating organizations are based, as well as those who play a role in making decisions relevant to the project’s focus areas, are eligible to participate.

This underscores that individuals aspiring to contribute to their communities require not only personal motivation but also access to resources, which this program aims to provide. Therefore, by nurturing active youth engagement within a locality or community, we are not only investing in its future prosperity but also enhancing its current vibrancy.


Mario Fava

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Mental Health in The Community

In a world increasingly shaped and dominated by digital systems, the significance of the support that communities can provide for mental well-being cannot be overlooked. While professional assistance and medication undoubtedly remain crucial, what emerges from human interaction facilitated in a community support context is of paramount importance.

This is what we will be discussing in this article: how the impact of a cohesive and tolerant community, along with experiences that can easily be shared among us, leads to the establishment of a foundation with a healthy level of emotional resilience.

The need for us to connect effectively

Human beings inherently have a need and a desire to connect and feel a sense of belonging to something or someone. When social bonds are strong, they not only fulfill emotional, social, and psychological needs but also serve as a buffer against life’s many challenges. In moments of stress, anxiety, or depression, knowing that there are members in the community where you live can give you courage and provide support independently of the obligations towards their own families. This support doesn’t only come from immediate family but also from genuine friends who want to be there for you and listen to what you have to say.

As members of the human race living in society, we should feel this connection within us and understand that one person with social problems can also lead to reaching out to more negative people if we are unable to provide help.

Reducing stigma and isolation

Certainly, one of the biggest obstacles to seeking help for mental health issues is the fear of isolation and stigma. Therefore, it is crucial that communities have platforms that facilitate discussions and exchange of experiences to overcome this barrier and encourage more people to seek help before it’s too late. When a person feels supported and realizes they are not alone, they are more comfortable seeking help and talking about the problems they are facing. This leads to open, honest, and mature conversations so that the individual feels a sense of belonging to that community as well.

The sense of belonging

We’ve discussed the importance of a sense of belonging and how being part of a community contributes to one’s self-esteem, ultimately enabling a person to truly believe in their own value. This understanding stems from the fact that others take an interest in how one feels, their challenges, and therefore, this sense of belonging sends a powerful message that even in the face of significant challenges, everyone is valid and capable of succeeding in the life they choose to live. When a person feels valued and accepted, it’s more likely that they’ll develop a conviction about the importance of self-evaluation and the significance of embracing and accepting who they are.

Experiences and empathy

The strength of community support emerges from the sharing of experiences and empathy that members of the same community can offer to one another. When individuals facing similar challenges and problems come together and talk, they provide immense support to each other, extending beyond mere sympathy. This leads to a sense of not feeling alone because more than just seeing a community “sympathize” with these individuals, we witness an empathetic community ready to listen, understand, and care. This sensitivity reinforces the belief of individuals seeking help that there are indeed those interested in them and that there are people in the community willing to provide all necessary assistance without passing judgment on their past or present. This also contributes to the creation of a more resilient and interconnected community, where one person’s challenges are everyone’s challenges.

Emotion and resilience

Community support serves as a stable “anchor” during times of emotional upheaval, fostering a safe space for individuals to express their feelings and receive empathy in return. This exchange not only offers emotional relief but also demonstrates resilience in action, as individuals navigate through challenging periods. Such platforms play a crucial role in promoting empathy and showcasing practical examples of resilience. Moreover, sharing experiences allows for collective learning, contributing to a deeper understanding of resilience within the community and empowering individuals to tackle challenges effectively.

How can a Local Council involve itself in all of this?

To address stigma, which still permeates this sector, open and honest discussions at the community level are necessary to foster a general sense of acceptance for mental health. Local councils, through various platforms, have a social obligation to the community to ensure space for this process. This can also be achieved through initiatives of diverse campaigns within society. When an individual feels comfortable speaking about their experiences on one of these platforms, it fosters a tremendous sense of acceptance and personal development. Local councils should not retreat from this responsibility by merely paying lip service, as doing so would only perpetuate the problem. Instead, they should act as catalysts to ensure they embrace the true meaning of inclusivity in the community.

Let’s explore a welcoming environment

To support individuals facing these challenges, it’s essential to create a welcoming environment where they feel safe to speak up and share their experiences. This encouragement empowers them to become active members of the community, free from prejudice or stigma, rather than feeling excluded and isolated at home. Such an environment fosters confidence, enabling individuals to step out of their comfort zones and contribute to the broader community. By reducing negative attitudes and discrimination, we can stand in solidarity with these individuals and collectively build a more inclusive society.


Communities can function as central hubs for mental health resources, bringing together various stakeholders such as professionals, experts, individuals with lived experience, and relevant organizations. When a Local Council effectively coordinates these parties, it optimizes resource utilization and increases awareness about mental health issues. This collaborative effort results in a wider array of tools available to support those seeking help, ultimately improving the likelihood of successful outcomes.


Once individuals have been equipped with essential information on accessing support, a welcoming environment has been established, communication platforms have been set up, and resources have been pooled, the focus can shift to facilitating direct engagement. Organizing community activities not only makes individuals feel valued but also integrates them into the fabric of the community. These activities offer chances to connect with new people, potentially from diverse backgrounds, and promote collaboration within and across localities. This collaborative approach can extend regionally, strengthening the sector and enhancing support networks.

Digital communities

As local leaders, we must also consider the possibility that individuals may choose or prefer to seek assistance online. It is imperative to recognize this trend, as it may indicate a growing segment of our community who feel more comfortable seeking help in this manner. Moreover, it underscores the importance of ensuring that any platforms, activities, or environments we create prioritize virtual accessibility for these community members. This approach can also support those who may lack access to other resources. By implementing robust online support systems and fostering a secure digital environment, we can better serve our community and adapt to evolving needs.


As we can see, community support and engagement are crucial in addressing this challenge of mental health. It’s essential for interaction, understanding each other better, sharing our experiences, maximizing our limited resources, and affirming human dignity for all.

I believe that Local and Regional Councils play an important role in all of this, and I hope that we can work together with experts in the field to establish a safe, supportive, and empathetic framework where more people feel comfortable stepping forward and seeking help. The Association of Local Councils will be exploring how it can facilitate and initiate these community services, with the assistance and involvement of experts in the field.


Mario Fava

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The active participation of residents in the decision-making process

The active participation of residents in the decision-making process that directly or indirectly impacts their quality of life is essential for sustainable development. This necessity holds particular importance and relevance at the local level, where residents live and work, where basic services are provided, and where businesses are established and flourish.

The community members all have a shared commitment to defining goals and working together to discover ways to enhance and simplify services, guarantee a fair distribution of resources, foster social inclusion, improve oversight, and boost transparency in governmental organizations. This includes establishing systems for responsibility and accountability.

Local Councils, being in close proximity to residents, possess a unique advantage over other institutions. They bear the responsibility and obligation to advocate for residents, mobilize civil societies, and, most importantly, act as catalysts for change.

This role becomes especially significant in an era of enhanced public administration efficiency, more inclusive development, stronger relationships with local associations, non-governmental organizations, and other entities, and the pursuit of solutions and aid for pressing challenges faced by local communities. These challenges encompass social exclusion, immigration, poverty, deficient basic infrastructure and access, urbanization complexities, public safety concerns, and issues related to violence, abuse, and law enforcement, not to mention the adverse impacts of climate change.

Good governance is imperative for ensuring sustainable, universally shared development. It also fosters a more effective and inclusive development process. The quality of governance primarily stems from the central government’s political will to create a local-level environment that empowers Local Councils with sufficient autonomy to execute their duties and responsibilities effectively, bolstered by increased professional resources and capacity. Quality governance at the local level also thrives through relationships and communication with other public entities, commercial communities, and residents who often rely on the resources at the disposal of Local Councils.

The expansion of public services at the local level, whether through the extension of existing services or the introduction of additional services by Local Councils, should be accompanied by strengthening local governance structures and greater investments in administrative capabilities and human resources.

Similarly, other local entities with the capacity and capability to promote increased transparency and accountability should also receive support. Furthermore, it’s vital to ensure that Local Councils have the necessary resources and incentives to provide residents with the highest level of accountability, swiftly and transparently.

This is particularly important because, in the principle of subsidiarity, the central government must actively promote the role of Local Councils as governing authorities with a significant and active role in policy development for national progress. These authorities should be able to take local decisions with the utmost transparency and accountability to provide the highest quality services to the community.

This reinforcement leads to ultimately contribute to more significant local development across various areas, including social justice, human rights, equality, active community involvement, increased participation of women, youth, and the elderly in the community.

Their involvement at social and political levels, environmental protection, local urban planning, the introduction and implementation of technology for more efficient management, sustainable mobility management, and the preservation and development of public assets all encourage a strong sense of participation and ownership. All of this should be accomplished with transparency and accountability, in conjunction with public entities, societies, and public associations.

This framework of territorial development, characterized by a bottom-up approach and a long-term process, is an integral part of the national government’s implementation strategy. Guided by Local Councils, this territorial system leads to an enhancement in the quality of life and the well-being of its residents.


Mario Fava










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What is takes to become an effective Councillor


Some individuals have been actively participating in local elections for many years, while others are contemplating their first run in the upcoming May 2024 local elections in our country. Even those who have extensive experience in local government may need to reassess their methods and consider a change in their approach. Newcomers to this field are beginning to realize the various aspects they need to work upon to become effective councillors.

In addition, major political parties often prioritize quantity over quality, placing a strong emphasis on an individual’s capacity to gather votes. Especially during their initial stages, individuals may encounter challenges as they establish themselves.

Furthermore, the absence of sufficient candidate training necessitates that those aspiring to run successful election campaigns must begin their preparations from scratch. Therefore, selecting the right approach is pivotal for a strong beginning.

The Role of a Councillor

An elected councillor has numerous responsibilities to bear in mind if they genuinely aim to make a positive impact, both in their local community and in the lives of the residents they represent. Some of these responsibilities include:

  • Leading and formulating strategies and plans for their community, ensuring a balance between the diverse needs of residents and the locality, while identifying the priorities that the Local Council should address.
  • Guaranteeing democratic responsibility for the public services rendered and holding service providers to the Council answerable to ensure the most effective use of the compensation they receive.
  • Engaging with key stakeholders to unite everyone in addressing social, economic, and environmental challenges.
  • Overseeing the affairs of the Local Council, particularly by ensuring thorough scrutiny of its work, plans, decisions, efficiency, and resource utilization.
  • Collaborating with colleagues to facilitate resident participation, involving local businesses and other stakeholders in decision-making processes to enhance civic engagement within the community.
  • Working with colleagues to maintain an environment in which the community can thrive and enjoy the best possible quality of life.

It’s crucial to bear in mind that when councillors operate with transparency, responsibility, inclusiveness, and effectiveness, they frequently earn recognition and gratitude from residents when the time comes for them to elect their representatives.

Understanding What Needs to Be Done

As previously mentioned, a councillor, as a democratically elected representative, has a duty to act as a catalyst for uniting everyone and guiding them in the same direction. To achieve this, they must first integrate seamlessly into the councillor group, regardless of their background or political affiliation. With this purpose in mind, a councillor can serve as the link connecting residents to the Local Council, fostering synergy between the desires, expectations, and actions of the Local Council and the community.

Irrespective of any training candidate may have received during an electoral campaign, it’s important to note that being elected as a councillor doesn’t automatically make one an expert in all matters. Moreover, following their election, it becomes imperative that elected councillors  actively participate in all organized training sessions to enhance their skills the attitude they need to embrace, and to augment their knowledge on how to take well-informed decisions. Equally important is the effective participation in council meetings and other activities organized by the council, the engagement in public discussions and consultation sessions, and their accessibility so that residents would know how and where to contact them.


Mario Fava










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The Mayor’s Role

Much like individuals in the workforce, Mayors commence their day by rising early and prepare for their full-time duties. The backgrounds and professions they come from can vary widely, covering fields such as education, public service, legal practice, factory employment, transportation, medical practice, and even retirement.

Similar to other employees, they encounter a series of challenges and problems throughout the day, and, like any other worker, they must address these issues. For those who are self-employed, there’s the added responsibility of ensuring they earn their daily income since a Mayor has no fixed monthly salary.

However, there’s a notable difference: when the workday ends and others are heading home to their families, the Mayor might not always make it home at that time. This is because they have to visit the Council office to handle the issues and matters that would have arisen during the day. During these visits, they meet with the residents and discuss the work and priorities for the upcoming days, sometimes involving the Executive Secretary should the latter would be still in office. One must emphasize that this is not a critical comment towards Executive Secretaries but rather because the Mayor’s visit coincides with the end of the Council employees’ workday.

Moreover, during the day, especially for those working in the private sector, the mayor may need to take some hours of leave to attend meetings with government officials, organizations, or other government agencies. They may also need to meet with the Council’s architect regarding a local project, provided there are no court sessions due to legal cases against the Local Council.

By May or June, numerous Mayors and Councillors, especially those employed in the private sector, may have already exhausted their vacation leave due to Council-related responsibilities. This underscores the need for workplace flexibility and family-friendly policies.

Nevertheless, it doesn’t conclude at this point. In contrast to Parliamentary Secretaries or Ministries, Mayors lack support staff like a chief of staff official, secretariat staff, public relations officer, or a personal assistant. This implies that if they wish to issue a statement or a press call or draft speeches for specific events, they must manage these tasks themselves, most often after their usual working hours. Should they need to seek third party advice or consultancy services they would need to fork payment for these sought services out of their own pockets

One must keep in mind that regardless of challenges and difficulties, what happens in the locality always falls under the Mayor’s responsibility!

I emphasize this because this is the reality faced by every Mayor or Regional President. This is the life one must lead to provide effective service in the community. I stress this not to criticize but to highlight that not every Mayor follows this path, and not every Mayor dedicates the necessary time and effort to their Council.

It is important that, after 30 years of Local Government in our country, this democratic and constitutional position is to be seriously considered. It is necessary and imperative that we have full-time mayors because their responsibilities, including legal ones, are greater than those of backbenchers (and I say this with full respect for the latter). Backbenchers do know what being a mayor means, as many of them have been in this position as well.

Now, more than ever, it is crucial for every Mayor or Regional President to fully embrace these responsibilities. If they ever fail in their administrative duties, or, even worse, in managing finances, they must be held completely accountable for their actions.

Elected officials, including Mayors, Councillors, and Regional Presidents, must fully grasp the weight of their responsibilities, which involve serving the entire community without showing favouring specific residents or employees. In the context of mayoral and regional presidential elections, it is imperative to establish well-defined criteria for candidates, taking into account their relevant past experiences, to guarantee the promotion of transparency and the adherence to principles of good governance.

There is a need for reform in the electoral process, which involves holding distinct elections for the positions of Mayor and Councillors during the same electoral event. Political parties should be required to announce their candidates for both Mayor and Councillors well in advance, resulting in the issuance of two separate ballot papers—one for the election of the Mayor and the other for selecting potential Councillors. This approach would offer greater transparency and provide candidates with a clear understanding of the roles they would undertake if elected. These are the crucial discussions we must engage in during the upcoming election season.



Mario Fava










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Local Leadership

A Councilor plays a crucial role in local governance, ensuring that local democracy functions effectively and garners the trust of residents. Councilors act as a vital link connecting residents, the Council, and the Central Government. Effective local leadership is the backbone of the Local Government, underscoring the need to empower Local Councils with a more central role in national decision-making.

The Councillor’s work is a cornerstone of this effort. Adopting a “bottom-up” approach is essential to engage residents in critical thinking, understanding, and decision-making in response to the challenges they face. Councillors should wholeheartedly embrace this role, gaining a deeper understanding of the local demographics and the primary challenges residents encounter; this enables them to advocate for equality and inclusion, representing the entire spectrum of society within the community, including those who are often marginalized, such as children, the elderly, people with disabilities, and individuals from diverse backgrounds in terms of beliefs, races, or those facing social issues.

Councillors play a pivotal role in ensuring that the results of their work shape the residents’ perspectives and the latter are to be taken into account before any Council decision. It’s essential to communicate the outcomes of these decisions through various media channels to keep residents informed. Residents not only have the right to be consulted and participate in decisions but also to be fully informed about each and every decision. Councillors are expected to listen, prioritize, and, above all, understand the unique needs of each individual they represent.

To carry out these responsibilities effectively, Councillors must have an in-depth understanding of their locality and the community they serve. This involves the gathering of information about various aspects, including the diversity of nationalities, spoken languages, resident demographics, local employment, infrastructure, public transportation, cultural dynamics, healthcare facilities, and long-standing community projects. Evaluating the long-term viability of these projects and ensuring that residents are well-informed about them is equally essential.

Effectively representing a wide range of community groups is a complex task, considering the continuously changing social, political, and cultural landscape. Communities continually change, and Councillors must stay attuned to these shifts and emerging realities. Councillors frequently gain valuable insights about the community when individuals approach them with their concerns. Exploring the locality on foot, outside the confines of a car, can unveil important nuances and issues that might otherwise go unnoticed. These experiences underscore the importance of recognizing that multiple perspectives exist on every issue, and determining the best course of action is not always straightforward.



Mario Fava










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What should you do if you believe you were scammed?

If you believe that you have uncovered a scam or you were the target victim of one, ĠEMMA advises you to report this. Do not let the scammer get away with it. Remember that there are vulnerable people who may not have the knowledge you have and may be at a high risk of being scammed unless the scam is stopped.

The following are entities to whom you may wish to make the report:

Cyber Crime Unit at the Malta Police Force

You will find the website of the Cyber Crime Unit on this URL:

You can contact the Unit as; telephone: +356 2294 2231/2.

In person:  Call or visit any Police District station and lodge a report.  The District Police Officer will request the assistance of a member from the Cyber Crime Unit as required.

Your bank

If you are the victim of a debit or credit card fraud, contact your bank immediately. Do the same if you lose your debit or credit card.

The revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2) establishes that if you, as a client of a bank, have lost or had your debit or credit card stolen, and it transpires that a fraudulent transaction has occurred after you notified your bank of the loss of your card, you are only liable to pay a maximum of EUR 50.

It is, however, important to note that you will not be entitled to any refund for losses relating to any unauthorised payment transaction if you have incurred such losses by acting fraudulently or by failing to fulfil your obligations with intent or gross negligence.

Complaints and Conciliation Directorate at the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority

You will find the website of the Complaints and Conciliation Directorate on this  You can contact the centre as follows:; submission of an online form:; freephone:356 8007 4400; and in person as follows: Mizzi House, National Road, Blata l-Bajda, Gozo: Elizabeth Street, Xewkija, Gozo

ĠEMMA has on 21st June 2021 signed a strategic partnership with the Local Councils Association.  Both ĠEMMA and the eSkills Malta Foundation are working the Association so that come October 2021, monthly public fora are held on scams and fraud in local communities.

Article prepared by ĠEMMA (within the Ministry of Social Justice and Solidarity, the Family and Children’s Rights)

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The 10 Commandments to protect yourself against scams and fraud

ĠEMMA strongly advises you that you follow these 10 Commandments religiously at all times to protect yourself from scams and fraud:

01Watch out for scams.   Scammers target you anytime, anywhere, anyhow.
02Do not respond.   Ignore suspicious emails, letters, house visits, phones calls or SMS messages – press ‘delete’, throw them out, shut the door, or just hang up.
03Do not agree to an offer straightaway.   Do your research and seek independent advice if it involves significant money, time or commitment, and get the offer in writing
04Ask yourself who you are really dealing with.   Scammers pose as people or organisations that you know and trust.
05Do not let scammers push your buttons.   Scammers will play on your emotions to get what they want, including adopting a personal touch. Alternatively, they seek to rush you into making a quick decision before you look into it. Remember there are no guaranteed get-rich-quick schemes!
06Keep your computer secure.   Always update your firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and buy only from a verified source.
07Only pay online using a secure payment service.   Look for a URL starting with ‘https’ and a closed padlock symbol.
08Do not hand over money and information to someone you do not know and trust.   Any request for payment by an unusual method such as wire transfers, reloadable cards, or gift cards that are nearly impossible to reverse or track is a tell-tale sign that it is part of a scam. And if you do hand money … it is rare to recover
09Protect your identity.   Your personal details are private and invaluable. Keep them that way and away from scammers.
10If you spot a scam, spread the word.   Tell your family and friends, and report it to:

In addition to these 10 Commandments, keep in mind the following:

  • It is NOT always true that companies, businesses and enterprises are always legitimate. Scammers can easily pretend to have approval and registrations when in fact they do not.
  • It is NOT always true that all websites are legitimate. It is easy and cheap to set up a website. And an enterprise’s website can be easily copied by scammers who will want to trick you into believing it to be genuine.
  • It is NOT always true that scams involve large amounts of money. Sometimes scammers target many people and try to get a small amount of money from each person.
  • It is NOT always true that scams are always about money. Some scams are aimed at stealing personal information from you.

Last year, ĠEMMA ( and the eSkills Malta Foundation ( signed a strategic partnership to disseminate knowledge on digital financial capability.  Fraud and scams is such one digital financial capability.  Jointly we have issued 4 e-books on scams and fraud ( and Infographics ( on tips of how to protect yourself with regard to over 30 different scams and frauds. 

ĠEMMA has on 21st June 2021 signed a strategic partnership with the Local Councils Association.  Both ĠEMMA and the eSkills Malta Foundation are working the Association so that come Octover 2021, monthly public fora are held on scams and fraud in local communities.

Article prepared by ĠEMMA (within the Ministry of Social Justice and Solidarity, the Family and Children’s Rights)

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Do you know how a scam works?

Recently we have seen a spate of scams in Malta – including phishing, romance fraud and business email fraud.  News papers have reported that one business lost nearly €90,000 as a result of a business email fraud and over €100,000 have been defrauded from persons scammed by the Maltapost phishing scam.

In summer of last year, ĠEMMA ( and the eSkills Malta Foundation ( signed a strategic partnership to disseminate knowledge on digital financial capability.  Fraud and scams is such one financial capability.  Jointly we have issued 4 e-books on scams and fraud ( and Infographics ( on tips of how to protect yourself with regard to over 30 different scams and frauds.  Both ĠEMMA and the Foundation have been disseminating these over their respective social media channels.

This is the first of 3 articles we are presenting on scams and fraud to make people more aware of what scams and frauds are, basic but important cardinal protection measures one should taken, and what one should do in the event that they realise they are scammed.

Most scams follow the same pattern – understand this pattern and it will be easier to spot. The way a scam works is described here.

The Scammer’s approach:  A scammer will approach you with a story designed to make you believe a lie. S/he targets your emotions and behaviour – a chance to make money, to find a partner, to help somebody in need. Invariably the scammer will dress him/herself as a government official, a company – including branding names you are familiar with, an expert investor, a government official, a lottery officer, a lovely lady.  The scammer will use any one of these approaches:

EmailStill the favoured method. Cheap and a good way to communicate with many persons.
Social media (Facebook, Instagram, etc.), Dating sites, Online forumSocial media (Facebook, Instagram, etc.), Dating sites, Online forum
Online shopping, classifieds, and auction sitesThese are used by scammers to trick you, with initial contact often made through reputable and trusted sites or fake websites that look like the real thin
Phone callsCalls are made by scammers to homes and businesses in a wide variety of scams, from threatening tax scams to offers of prizes or ‘help’ with computer viruses
SMSScammers tend to send a whole range of scams, including competition or prize scams.

The scammer’s tools are designed to get you to lower your defences, build trust in the story and act quickly or irrationally and proceed to the final stage – sending the money or providing personal information.  The scammer’s tools include:

  • Creating a sense of urgency so that you will not have the time to think things through and make you react on emotions rather than logic.
  • Similarly, using high pressure sales tactics saying it is a limited offer, that prices will rise, or the market will move and the opportunity will be lost.
  • Having all the hallmarks of a real business using glossy brochures with technical industry jargon backed up with office fronts, call centres and professional websites.
  • Using your personal details to make you believe you have dealt with them before, and make the scam appear legitimate.
  • Creating counterfeit and official-looking documents – documents that appear to have government approval or are filled with legal jargon can give a scam an air of authority.
  • Similarly, using high pressure sales tactics saying it is a limited offer, that prices will rise or the market will move and the opportunity will be lost.
  • Contacting you regularly to build trust and establish a relationship.

Asking for money may be set at the point of contact or after months of careful grooming. Scammers have their preferences for how you send your money. Methods vary: wire transfer, credit / debit card, bank transfer, Bitcoin, etc.

ĠEMMA has on 21st June 2021 signed a strategic partnership with the Local Councils Association.  Both ĠEMMA and the eSkills Malta Foundation are working the Association so that come October 2021, monthly public fora are held on scams and fraud in local communities.

Article prepared by ĠEMMA (within the Ministry of Social Justice and Solidarity, the Family and Children’s Rights)

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Local Councils Association enters into a Strategic Partnership with the Ministry for Social Justice and Solidarity, the Family and Children’s Rights and ĠEMMA on financial capability education

The Ministry for Social Justice and Solidarity, the Family and Children’s Rights and the Local Councils Association today signed a strategic partnership to jointly work together, through ĠEMMA (the government’s financial capability education platform), to improve the financial capability of Maltese and Gozitan residents during life-events, including retirement.  The outcome resulting from this strategic partnership between the Local Councils Association and ĠEMMA is to ensure that people are better informed in matters that affect their finances and thus can make the right decisions that fit their personal circumstances.

Through the Local Councils Association, ĠEMMA will work with regional and local councils to carry out financial capability programmes – which range from budgeting to protection against scams and frauds – within the communities.  ĠEMMA will also make resources – such as videos, handbooks, etc. – on financial capability available to regional and local councils so that these are accessible to persons within the communities from their offices, or as may distributed within the communities.

The Local Councils Association will make its digital resources available to ĠEMMA – including its You Safe portal, Facebook site, the LCA website as well as faciliting partnering between ĠEMMA and respective regional and local councils digital resources – to assist ĠEMMA in broadening its reach with regard to financial capability knowledge and information amongst Maltese and Gozitan residents.

This is the 11th strategic partnership that the Ministry for Social Justice and Solidarity, the Family and Children’s Rights entered on behalf of ĠEMMA with other institutions and bodies.  The other strategic partnerships include the Central Bank of Malta, the University of Malta, BOV, MAPFRE MSV Life, the General Workers Union, the eSkills Malta Foundation, Mental Health Malta, the Malta Chamber of SMEs, and the UĦM Voice of the Workers. 

Dr Michael Falzon, the responsible minister, stated that this strategic relationship between ĠEMMA and the Local Councils Association is a game changer with regard to bringing financial capability knowledge and education closer to Maltese and Gozitans persons.  Through this strategic partnership, ĠEMMA is now able to inculcate financial capability education and knowledge in the heart of local communities.

Mr Mario Fava, the President of the Local Councils Association underlined that the Association is proud of this relationship with ĠEMMA and the Ministry as it allows it to continue to build on previous and current initiatives to build up within Malta’s and Gozo’s communities understanding of money management and planning for one’s future – and thus directly contribute to the financial wellbeing of residents.  Mr Fava stated that the first initiatives between the Association and the regional and local councils and ĠEMMA will be rolled in early autumn of this year.

Mr Mark Musu, the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry, and who is responsible for the stewardship of ĠEMMA, emphasised that building a Malta that is financial capable is a societal objective – one in which government must play a key role, but an objective that a government on its own will not be able to reach.

Mr Musu expressed his satisfaction that the joining up of strategic partners, such as the Local Councils Association with his ministry and ĠEMMA, shows that there is a strong understanding from societal players of the importance of such a joined up approach towards instilling a financial wellbeing in Malta.

The ĠEMMA’s financial capability platform can be viewed at

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