Support and Empowerment for Youth at Risk

A project for training and networking for youth workers, responsible for the most disadvantaged young people. The project aimed to meet the permanent thematic priority, “inclusion”.

The seven participating municipalities from six countries are all members in a European network for middle sized cities, called Eurotowns. The partners are Eskilstuna (Sweden); Schiedam and Helmond (The Netherlands), Sindelfingen (Germany) Reggio Emilia (Italy), Hasselt (Belgium) and Girona (Spain).

One important, identified, shared problem is issues related to youth poverty. The projects main target group was young people (age 13-20), who are disadvantaged compare to their peers and live in poverty, due to for example social barriers, educational difficulties and health problems. For some, it was also a matter about e.g. addiction, crime, integration problems, unfinished school (dropouts) and unemployment. The current financial situation requires European cities to think about new, innovative and cost effective solutions to combat poverty among youth.

Eskilstuna was responsible for a six days study visit programme. The programme presented different aspects of the issue such as how to empower the young persons to become active citizens, how to create a more inclusive society, youth unemployment, leisure, migrants, health and housing problems. There were also presentations about competence, responsibilities and financial issues. Two methods were highlighted. One was to present a solution with an integrated approach, about how to gather all organisations and persons connected to the young person e.g. social services, school, leisure organisations, police, volunteers and family members. Another method was to discuss and learn more about informal learning.

Since all the partners are public organisations, and have responsibility for the issue, all partners implemented applicable new knowledge in their organisations. The evaluation of the study visit will be used as a platform for future cooperation and if possible EU funding. The conclusions of the study visit are summarized in this report and disseminated to the rest of the Eurotowns members and some other (European) networks.

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