Latvia - Interview with Gundega Silina

Sheena McGrellis interviews Gundega Silina, Coordinator of YouthBank Lativa.

Three YouthBanks are active in Latvia and are working creatively to raise funds so that they can support youth led projects in their areas. Grant makers in these YouthBanks have employed a variety of fundraising activities in the past year to support their work. They have offered their time to babysit children for parents at basketball games; have organised charity lottery draws; and held a photographic competition to produce a fundraising calendar, to name but a few. The grants awarded by the YouthBanks are generally for small amounts, in mini competitions, with projects receiving sums of €30 - €50. In the larger competitions projects can receive up to €300. Most of the grants awarded in 2015 were used by young people to improve their local environment in some way.

According to Gundega Silina, the Youth Coordinator, not all young people (and also adults) in Latvia easily identify with the grant making ethos of YouthBank. Gundega says it can be a challenge to convince them of the utility of raising money to support the ideas and activities of others, rather than keeping the money raised for their own projects and campaigns. In addition local governments in Latvia support more Youth Councils in high schools and universities, and more suggest that Youth Coulcils could take YB as one of their activity.

Photo caption: In January Valmiera Region Community Foundation presented the case for YouthBank at a national event for youth specialists and workers. Local Government officials attended the event and VRCF has been invited to present at other youth specialists and local meetings throughout the country. Read more in the forthcoming YBI ezine.

Convincing young people and the local governments of the unique value of YouthBank is a challenge that Valmiera Region Community Foundation (VRCF) has already been working on this year. In January VRCF presented the case for YouthBank at a national event for youth specialists and workers. Local Government officials attended the event and VRCF has been invited to present at other youth specialists and local meetings throughout the country. Gundega is hoping that the opportunity to inform these government officials and 'youth specialists' will help to raise the profile of YouthBank and produce more support for it.

Motivating and encouraging the local coordinators and Grant Makers at ground level, however, is one of VRCF's priorities this year. In Latvia the role of Coordinator is a voluntary one, and it can be a challenge to keep Coordinators in role for more than one year. Securing funding for this role would make a big difference, Gundega comments. As well as supporting the three established YouthBanks, Gundega and VRCF is hoping to strengthen and develop two others that are in 'the beginning stages.' VRCF is already planning an event in the summer to bring all YouthBanks together to share their experiences and learn from each other. With the networking and publicity work VRCF is engaged in at a national level Gundega is hoping that new YouthBanks will be established in Latvia this year.

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Issue 7

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