Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic social exclusion for young people was an extensive concern in European policy as according to the European Youth Strategy 2019-2027, 29% of 16- 29 year olds were at risk of poverty or social exclusion and 11.6% of those aged 15-24 were not in education, employment or training (NEETs), while 15.9 % of the young people in this age group are unemployed – double the rate of the general population.
The rationale for this programme is that the Covid 19 lockdown has created circumstances in which young people at risk of social exclusion, have experienced increased social exclusion. Young people who were previously socially excluded are now experiencing more extreme forms of social exclusion.
We will also identify, understand and disseminate evidence about the extreme forms of social exclusion (including radicalisation) being experienced by young people due to failure to transition back from lockdown. Young people targeted by detached work are outside the framework of institutions and programmes designated for the support of young people. They are by definition highly socially excluded. The aim of detached work is to create connections for socially excluded young people with the services and supports they require.
Our project will help deliver aspects of the European Youth Strategy 2019-2027, namely: ‘EU level cooperation will focus on implementing a Youth Work Agenda for quality, innovation and recognition of youth work:
- Developing and disseminating practical toolkits for quality youth work;
- Supporting grassroots activities addressing recognition, innovation and capacity building of youth work under Erasmus+;
- Supporting mutual learning and evidence building on digital youth work, youth worker skills and financing of youth work.’
The invaluable contribution of youth work in reaching out to young people vulnerable to radicalisation leading to violence has been stressed in the European Council Conclusions on the role of the youth sector in an integrated and cross-sectoral approach to preventing and combating radicalisation leading to violence of young people (Council of the European Union 2016), the Communication from the European Commission on supporting the prevention of radicalisation leading to violence (European Commission 2016) and the Action Plan by the Council of Europe “The fight against violent extremism and radicalisation leading to terrorism” (Council of Europe 2015).
The Youth Partnership Report ‘YOUTH WORK AGAINST VIOLENT RADICALISATION Theory, concepts and primary prevention in practice’ by Miguel Angel García López Lana Pašić from 2018, states that: ‘The youth sector cannot be the panacea to violent radicalisation. However, youth work can, together with education and other sectors, play a role in preventing it in the early stages’…. ‘The key challenges and needs identified relate to the recognition of the limited impact of youth work within the wider social, political and economic context, the lack of in-depth understanding of the phenomena of violent radicalisation, need for further training and networking, the necessity of devising new approaches to working on the topic, the practical challenges regarding the implementation of preventive activities and the need for improving the impact of current practices as inspiration for further work.’
The Report ‘The contribution of youth work to preventing marginalisation and violent radicalisation – A practical toolbox for youth workers & Recommendations for policy makers’ – Results of the expert group set up under the European Union Work Plan for Youth for 2016-2018 states that:
‘The value of youth work lies in its ability to be flexible and address the reality of young people. Youth work can make the difference by supporting young people, especially those at risk of marginalisation and social exclusion, with their problems and by empowering them how to deal with the challenges of growing up in a complex, pluralistic modern society. In that way, further recognition and support of the role of youth work role from Member States and the European Union is needed.’ and specifically at the Targeted Level it recommends to
- ‘Provide a wide-ranging list with useful resources which can provide information (e.g. facilitate access to relevant pedagogical methods and materials from other countries by translating them), advice or expertise at the local level and at the national level and ensure that youth workers can access it if necessary.
- Provide youth workers, both volunteers and employed, with training opportunities for specialisation at this level of prevention.
- Create international networks for sharing information and expertise…’