The EC declared the year 2022 the European Year of Youth. In Slovenia, we think hard about their inclusion in the labour market, precarious employment, competencies required for work and active participation in society. However, we wonder whether it truly all depends on the individual, their education and knowledge. What about when they successfully complete their schooling to the best of their ability, show numerous qualities, and the market tells them that it does not need them? What if they drop out of school because they have so many other problems that it is already a success for them to survive from day to day? Experts in their research notice an increase in mental health problems among young people. They see that the young face poverty, and many depend on their primary family, which does not always provide support; sometimes, it can be toxic and destructive to them.
These are two sides of youth issues, but what they have in common is the minimal influence of young people on social events. In the project YouthReach: Outreach – Inclusive and Transformative Framework for All, we asked ourselves how to give young adults in this position a voice and enable them to contribute and co-create reality. Furthermore, how can we empower them to access social resources? Last but not least, how to foster trust and integration in the community? Some programmes and institutions can help young people overcome challenges. However, they often do not even seek this help. After all, they do not know about it or have a bad experience because they were once treated inappropriately in institutions.
In the YouthReach project, we deal with the quality of outreach work. How do we improve cooperation between institutions and users? Factors that create good practice need to be identified, and the latter needs to be implemented more widely, including training professionals and volunteers and developing appropriate methodologies and tools to enable this.
The main four tasks of the project are:
- an inventory of studies on outreach work, good practices, theories and other factors influencing the quality of outreach work;
- preparation and pilot implementation of an educational programme for educators who will spread the knowledge about outreach at various levels;
- preparation and experimental implementation with the evaluation of the outreach methodology;
- preparation of a selection of tools that providers of outreach work will be able to use for different purposes in different situations.
So far, we have met at international meetings twice – in Barcelona and Modena. In addition, we often communicate remotely using Zoom and Microsoft Teams. We have done the main work on the first task and are already designing the framework for the second one, where the SIAE plays an important role.
The project involves partners from five countries: France, Spain, Italy, Croatia and Slovenia. Slovenian partners are the most numerous. In addition to SIAE, the Faculty of Social Work of the University of Ljubljana (one of the three universities in the project), the City Association of Friends of Youth Ljubljana and the Bob Institute, Ljubljana are also included. The project coordinator is the Laboratory of Studies and Research on Social Intervention Leris from France, which has been working for twenty years to mediate between the social sciences and public or private actors in order to offer joint support for co-production and enrichment of knowledge. It seeks to improve the adequacy of interventions and measures by both public and other institutions. On the other hand, it also offers research institutions access to various issues from the fields they address.
Natalija Žalec, MAEd (UK) (email@example.com), SIAE