European delegates visit Waterford for men's network conference

Justin Kelly


Justin Kelly


European delegates visit Waterford for men's network conference

European delegates visit Waterford for men's network conference

This week, the Men’s Development Network – Ireland’s only charity dedicated to bettering the lives of men – hosted international delegates at its Waterford headquarters for its inaugural ‘The Best of Young Men’ programme this week.

From October 21-25, professionals working with young men aged 16-25 years-old from across mainland Europe including Greece and Portugal, Ireland and the UK, shared workplace experiences and discussed the dominant issues facing this vulnerable cohort of society.

Initiated, prepared and delivered by the Men’s Development Network, the 5-day session offered attendees the opportunity to reflect on how they work with young men, acknowledge and celebrate the potential and skills they offer society and inform future practices to ensure the provision of worthwhile frontline services and programmes in their respective territories.

It also raised awareness of the societal pressures placed on young men and the need for youth workers to be aware of these pressures thoroughly to confidently develop interventions and solutions.

The Men’s Development Network sees this programme as the first in a line of European programmes over the next number of years in which experts will be invited to Ireland.

CEO of the Men’s Development Network, Seán Cooke, said: “Young men rarely get a break. When they make the news headlines it’s often-times for the wrong reasons. Our experience with young men indicates that young men do need support and guidance to overcome certain concerns but their contribution to their families and communities is hugely positive.

“Our ‘Best of Young Men’ training programme is about celebrating men and shining a positive light on their skills, achievements and contributions. We want to develop new conversations with young men to inform our activities as we move forward and ensure we deliver a service that connects with young men in a meaningful and tangible way.

“Our overall objective is to raise awareness of keys issues addressing young men today, provide key tools to improve understanding of these issues to ultimately develop deep improvements in youth care, promote social inclusion and solidarity and inform youth policy not just here in Ireland but across the territories that look to us for advice.

“We’re now halfway through the programme and the feedback has been really positive. We are proud as an organisation not only to take the lead in terms of conversation building but to show that Ireland is at the forefront when it comes to understanding male needs so we can continue to get the best from them.”

A key part of the training programme gives delegates the toolkit to work developmentally with young men.

National co-ordinator with the Men’s Development Network, Liam Bolger, said: “Connecting with young men in a development way, to better understand their concerns and needs, is crucial to long-term success. Our 7 key questions within the programme provide attendees with a universal structure to get effective results.”  

The ‘Best of Young Men’ programme is funded through the European Programme Erasmus+, which is administered by Leárgas in Ireland and allows for shared learning, diversity and the opportunity to combine practices.

Leader of the Greek delegation, Konstantinos Stergiou, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for every service working with young men. It can be a real challenge to connect with young men in a way that keeps them engaged and this method meets our immediate needs and upskills our workers.”

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