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Between the 2nd and 4th of September Żgħażagħ Azzjoni Kattolika (ŻAK); the youth branch of the Maltese Catholic Action, hosted in Malta a team of data collectors coming from the Romanian, Spanish and Italian Catholic Action, together with data collectors from ŻAK.  During these days the data collectors were provided with training as a part of a 3-year strategic partnership research project.  

The project ‘Supporting Volunteers in Youth Organisations (SVYO)’ aims to discover underlying issues regarding the long-term commitment of young volunteers in the four youth organizations. A research study will be taking place, shedding light on an issue which is common for many voluntary organizations in Europe, and thus contributes to the available body of knowledge in the youth field.

During the training, the data collectors got to know each other better, discovered and became more acquainted with the project and its aims and were given theoretical and practical information regarding research, data collection methods, and ethical issues associated with data collection.  In this way when data collection in each organization begins, data collectors will be equipped with the right tools to carry out this data collection in the best possible way. 

ŻAK members and data collectors, Roderick Borg and Dawn Powell said that the training was not only “informative and useful” in order to collect data accurately and provide the best results, but also the training served as a reminder that when working with young people, one must keep in mind their needs and therefore listen to them and accompany them. They added that they are very excited to be part of this project, which is addressing a very common challenge for organisations, and explained that it is very important for organisations to reflect frequently on the needs of their young members and keep them at the forefront, in the same way, this project is doing. 

Bishop Joseph Galea-Curmi who also spent some time with these data collectors by listening and discussing with them, said that the work being done by these data collectors is important, even for the Church.  He explained that we can only carry out our ministry in the Church after we have really understood people.  He further explained that good communication requires the willingness to listen to and understand people.  Although this can be a challenge especially when working with young people, it can lead to accompanying our young people with love, where they feel they can be truly heard and meanwhile help them live a meaningful life.  

Bishop Galea-Curmi went on to suggest that the Church’s mission, including the Church in Malta, should be to listen.  He invited Catholic Action and all those who provide a service in the Church to organize more opportunities to simply listen to what young people and children have to say. 

He concluded by thanking the data collectors for their presence and their work.

SVYO Data Collector Training was both informative and useful. It is vital to understand how to best collect data for the best possible results.  

I’m really looking forward for this project as it is something that we as active members in the Catholic Action should be thinking about frequently. I wanted to be part of this project as I want to be part of helping solve an issue that has been ongoing for some time now. The training was insightful and helped open my eyes on the importance of accuracy and discipline while carrying this type of research. (Down)

Furthermore, this training served as a reminder in assuring that young people’s needs are always the priority together with the willingness to listen to them for a better provision of service. Not only listen but accompany them and provide them the space to be the most important voice to keep going forward together. (Roy)

The project “Supporting Volunteers in Youth Organisations” (SVYO) is co-funded by the European Union in the framework of Erasmus+ programme and is running from 1st March 2021 to 31st August 2023.  The study will be made available to the public at the end of the project.