Comments & Reflections from Eskilstuna
The second Social Inclusion Task Team meeting of 2016 was held in Schiedam, Holland, 16-18 November. The subject was designed to bring together various experts to exchange experiences and knowledge of how to handle Youth at Risk from different perspectives – Home, Street and School.
The event managed to gather 29 experts from 10 member cities and 7 different countries.
The first day venue was Lentiz Life College with introduction about the school and the special programs. During the day, Yets Fundation and a Youth Intervention Team described their role and activities. In the late afternoon a key-note speaker, the researcher Illiass Hadioui, presented his theories about street culture in school.
Lentiz Life College is a school for secondary education as well as vocational training. The school has a department that supports pupils with special needs, collaborating with organisations outside school to provide the best care for these students. For example, Lentiz offers the opportunity for teenage mothers to get back to education. They are working together with a daycare centre, which also plays an important role in parenting support.
The most interesting about the Lentiz Life College is the great social responsibility and the very long opening hours (8-20). This represents an excellent opportunity for the pupils to get involved in sports and other activities after school. The balance between school and leisure seems to be successful. It was impressive to see how Lentiz Life College could integrate these two worlds to the point of becoming one. It is also important to educate the students about life issues through school subjects, as in mathematics.
It’s important that the school staff, from the board members to the teachers, share the same values. So that the school can be successful in creating an environment where students can develop themselves and create a positive future.
The program “New Life”, which offers childcare for teen mothers, was a very inspiring solution.
Other interesting remarks were:
- the number of NGOs linked to the students leisure time
- the importance of getting the students feel at home
- start with the students strengths
- open premises and nice color schemes
- good information boards about the different programs
The Yets Foundation is a volunteering organisation, with the aim to empower youth through sports.
One of the first places in Holland where YETS executed its youth empowerment programme, was at the Lentiz Life College in Schiedam.
A key issue in the presentation was to show the importance of role models and to inspire hope.
We are experts in risk, but hardly understand hope
- You can’t teach hope if you don’t have hope
- Hope is not something that you have, it’s someting that is taught and learned.
Another aspect was to educate the students about their obligations, not only about their rights. You get much from the society during your life so it’s important to give it back. The students must feel that they are needed and that they are an important part of the society. Participating in sports doesn’t always have to be about becoming the best; sometimes the most important achievement is to become part of a fellowship.
Less ”how”, more ”why”.
The Youth Intervention Team (JIT) is connected with the Lenztiz Life College, but is also active and visible in the streets of Schiedam. They support youth at risk in their spare time and coach and motivate them to work on their future. If necessary they pick up from home students who are missing their classes and accompany them to school.
The Youth Intervention Team is a very good example of how to empower people by supporting others.
The keynote speaker Iliass El Hadioui is a Dutch-Maroccan sociologist who works as a researcher at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam. Iliass El Hadioui has published articles about the impact of street culture on school systems and how schools should deal with this. He gives insights in how home culture, school culture and street culture should be connected.
According to Iliass El Haioui, the main challenges for schools are the result of three phenomena; individualisation, superdiversity and virtualisation. It is much easier to be included in street codes than in the school codes but the latter is socially exclusive. Though, if home and school spheres collaborate, the student will be less susceptible to street codes. The most interesting discovery is that if the school keeps its school culture, they achieve the best results. It is important to make people aware of the codes they follow and what consequences this could have. The working method ”Professional Learing Community” was impressing.
The second day the participants visited a District Support Team, WOT-Oost.
Since the start of 2015 there are 6 WOTs (district support teams) in Schiedam. The participants visited one of them, to learn about the way they are shaping social support and how they colloborate with various partners to reach family goals. There is a strong connection with the before mentioned JIT.
The Dutch system is different from the Swedish. In Sweden we believe in working close to the people, in different teams. It enables you to create relations with the community, but also to adapt your working structure depending on the districts needs. It’s also a presumtion for working preventive. The lack of volunteers in our organization is something we could develop further and we found it very smart to integrate a café in the building.
The meeting ended with a reflection on the lessons learned and on the next step to take, finally we all expressed our big thanks to the hosts.
For next meeting, Eskilstuna is interested in continuing the discussions on the following issues.
- How can we work with integration and treatment at the same time? Are there successful methods? Successful examples where they succeeded with the integration (where parents understand the expectations, obligations and rights that apply in the new country) while working with treatment (family calls, change management) on the basis of social problems in the family?
- How do you perform family work/parenting in a good way when parents have both cognitive function impairments and social problems? Maybe even the children, how do you do? Good examples of cooperation? Professional teams from different areas? Methods? Pedagogical approach? Different kind of support? How do other countries do when efforts are needed over several years, several times a week, and where the potential of change is not so great?