Essential to advocating for change is developing techniques to distill the views of the community or group into succinct messages for policymakers that include clear messages of what needs to be done, and how, with realistic, achievable ways of realising change. The SiS catalyst approach was to develop a series of ‘declarations’ developed via different consultative techniques, which we refined and linked to four conferences.
The declarations were intended to support and be one element within a “pan-European mutual agreement process” and a vehicle to foster a common understanding of children as partners in the development of policies at the European Level.
All declarations were placed online for sharing and endorsing– either as an individual, or as an institution. It was difficult to get as broad an ownership of the declarations as hoped. Practitioners may not be authorised to speak on behalf of an institution, whilst University managers and other decision/policy makers can doubt the value of just endorsing a declaration. These challenges show again that achieving change requires coordinated effort across a range of areas. Practitioners and managers both need other forms of support and engagement alongside something like the declarations to give them the legitimacy to endorse them.
The SiS Catalyst experience provides important pointers to the need to address this challenge despite the difficulties associated with it. The power of belief in the rights of children and the imperative of overcoming social injustice provides the energy that drives forward those across the world who subscribe to the change agency agenda. However, this belief is not shared by everyone. There has to be ways of engaging those who have not ‘bought in’ to the agenda. The declaration approach is one way of trying to do this, whilst at the same time as the SiSCatalyst experience has shown strengthening practice.
The full text of all four declarations was compiled in an annotated booklet. The declaration booklet will be available in early 2015.
It is available via the European Children’s Universities Network (EUCU.NET) and can serve as a powerful vehicle when handed over to stakeholders, decision makers, experts and practitioners as a message to share - and to show and seek commitment for the idea of Children's Universities and social inclusion.
For more info about how to get copies of the Declarations Booklet, please see on www.eucu.net.