The origins of the Solidarity Action Day …
The concept of a Solidarity Action Day dates back to 1963, when a group of Swedish youngsters launched ‘en dag för Dag’. This ‘day for Dag’ was held in memory oif the Swedish Secretary-General of the United Nations, Dag Hammarskjöld, who was killed in a plane crash on his way to cease-fire negotiations in Congo. The Solidarity Action Day concept caught on and spread quickly across the neighbouring countries: the next year, in 1964, the first edition of Operasjon Dagsverk took place in Norway. Finland followed in 1967. It took a little longer for the Solidarity Action Day to cross the sea, but 1985 saw the creation of Operation Dagsvaerk in Denmark.
In more recent years, these organisations have explored co-operation possibilities, leading to a joint Summer Camp held in Denmark in 2010 and the 2012 event Operasjon Gränsløs.
It could have ended there, but as a Solidarity Action Day is all about young people from different countries co-operating to create a better world and new initiatives seemed to be popping up all over Europe, it wasn’t long before the idea of working together on a European level arose. As good as the idea was, it took a lot of debating, a year hard work and even the possibility of an international romance to turn these vague plans into reality.
… and those of SAME
In 2011 a few enthusiastic youngsters from eight different Solidarity Action Day organisations met in Oslo, Norway with the idea of getting to know each other and each other’s differences and similarities, strengths and weaknesses. This experience made them even more motivated to work together on a European level. In order to move forward as a network, defining a common ground was necessary. This led to the Basic Common Principles.
The next year, the Summer Camp was held in Berlin, Germany. Not afraid of thinking big, we named our child ‘SAME’ as an acronym of ‘Solidarity Action Day Movement in Europe’, we developed publicity material as the first info brochure and a video explaining the basics of SAME and to spread the word about the Solidarity Action Day. Realising we needed a common goal to work towards, we started working on Quality Guidelines as a tools every organisation can use to evaluate themselves, based on the Basic Common Principles.
By the next Summer Camp we finished the Quality Guidelines. This made us realise the importance of working groups, meetings and an efficient communication. The Quality Guidelines were approved at and after SC’13 in Bassano Del Grappa, Italy, the second big milestone for SAME. Today the Quality Guidelines serve as a definition of good quality work within a SAME member organisation. The guidelines also offer Solidarity Action Day initiatives a set of concrete goals to work towards when setting up a new Solidarity Action Day. We left Bassano with two new working groups: the publicity working group and the strategy working group, whose missions were respectively to develop promo material and to work on a plan for the future.
Summer Camp 2014 took place in Bokrijk, Belgium. On this Summer Camp, our logo and slogan were revealed, together with an elaborate proposal for our Vision and Aims and we also brainstormed a Common Action. As a result, the basis of SAME’s network was consolidated: we wanted to reach out to support initiatives, but also go back to the basics within the member organisations to see where there was still room for improvement. After this Summer Camp we received a fund from Erasmus+, which enabled us to implement the Youth Makes Change Happen programme. This programme made it possible for us to meet more regularly in order to become a stronger network, which was possibility we didn’t have before.
After the Summer Camp in 2016 in Denmark, we elaborated and successfully offered the first Action Day Start Up Seminar. Four different youth organisations joined the Start-Up Seminar and became motivated to organise the Solidarity Action Day in their countries. This year the Board also got bigger, which enabled us to take more action.
The growth of the organisation made us rethink our concept of the Summer Camp, and so the next year we organised the Summer Academy in Belgrade 2017 . Afterwards we developed the Start-Up Kit to spread the Action Day concept even further.
At the Summer Academy and General Assembly 2018 in Bassano, we were able to announce the start of a new programme, funded by the Possehl Stiftung and based in the Hanseatic city of Lübeck , Northern Germany. The purpose of the new programme is to spread the Solidarity Action Day in additional countries across Europe and to expand the impact of the Solidarity Action Day through international exchange and encounters.