Listen to Peter McVerry discuss the benefits of Erasmus+ and the European Solidarity Corps at the Léargas Form, 2015.
“What are we doing when we work with young people on the margins? We’re not trying to change them; still less are we trying to control them. Nobody wants to be controlled and anyway we can’t change people. The only people who can change people are themselves. All that we can do is to encourage people, to walk with people, to open doors for people,
support them and open the possibilities to them that were not previously available. Our job is to walk with people” – Father Peter McVerry.
The Peter McVerry Trust works to reduce homelessness and the harm caused by social disadvantage, and has been involved with the European Volulntary Service (EVS) for the past ten years. It has both sent and hosted many young volunteers through the service. Father Peter McVerry’s inspirational keynote address focused on the importance of a social development model that prioritises people over profit, the affirmation of the dignity of people over economic growth, and the role that Léargas-managed programmes like EVS have in “allowing people to grow and develop extra opportunities and choices in life”.
The overarching message was that we are ‘planting seeds’ with our projects. Even if we never see the fruits, we must work with the hope that our interactions with people are making a difference to their lives and to our community. Themes of development, strategic partnership, mobility and how the “philosophy and methodology of Léargas should become mainstream in every organisation” ran throughout.
If social development is about expanding the opportunities available to young people and those on the margins, Father McVerry argued that involvement in Léargas programmes was a key factor in achieving this. Giving people the opportunity to travel abroad, and to experience other peoples, other cultures and other possibilities is, as he said, “extraordinarily affirming for them”.
He stressed the importance of these programmes for organisations too. Strategic Partnerships are “the way we have to go” in ensuring that our organisations adapt to an era of rapid change:
We need to be learning, we need to be listening and we need to be adapting.
Fr Peter McVerry
Listen to the full key note speech on the Léargas Soundcloud page.