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Our life. Our voice. Young people and poverty
Start date: Jun 1, 2015, End date: May 31, 2017 PROJECT  FINISHED 

BACKGROUND Research shows young people living below the poverty line face multiple barriers to access education, employment, housing etc. To be poor is a very stigmatising experience, which affects self-esteem, confidence and personal security. Thus, low income is a strong predictor of low educational performance, lower aspirations for the future and finally social exclusion. The 2013 Annual Growth Survey shows that poverty and social exclusion are major obstacles to the achievement of the Europe 2020 objective of inclusive growth. There is a lack of extensive knowledge on how young people experience poverty in the different member states and much to learn how the dynamic nature of poverty and youth intertwine. A better understanding is urgently needed towards achieving the Europe 2020 goal of “at least 20 millions fewer people in or at risk of poverty and social exclusion". OBJECTIVES, NUMBER AND PROFILE OF PARTICIPANTS YES Forum, the European network of organisations working with and for disadvantaged young people having members and affiliates in 18 EU member states, leads the strategic partnership “Our life. Our voice. Young people and poverty”. We will place young people’s views at the heart of this project to explore young people’s attitudes to poverty and what it means for them to live in families struggling to make ends meet from day to day. By listening to the young people experiencing poverty we want to bridge the gap between policy and practice. The project partnership involves 6 partners and the YES Forum, the coordinating organisation. We implement the project in 5 countries different with regard to welfare system, historical development, and economic performance. Therefore we collaborate with partners coming from the UK, Italy, Germany, Finland and Romania covering different regions of the EU. These organisations have strong experience in delivering services for those experiencing poverty, listening to young people and influencing policy to improve the lives of those in or at risk of poverty. To reach a large audience ranging from youth work organisations, service providers, policy makers and public authorities, we involve another strong European network, active in the field of streetwork: Dynamo International. We estimate that the activities will reach between 200-500 young people per country. Through extensive dissemination activities we aim to reach around 5.000 multipliers across Europe. ACTIVITIES, METHODOS USED This strategic partnership builds on a model established by The Children’s Society, the partner from the UK. Aim is to set up a group, so-called panel, of young people experiencing poverty in 5 countries. These groups of 12-15 young people are accompanied by youth workers applying interactive and participatory methods to get an insight into the experience of young people in poverty. The young people create discussion on different perceptions of poverty and as a result formulate their recommendations against poverty and what real support should look like. At regional and national events they will meet youth organisations, service providers, local authorities, and policy makers to discuss their suggestions. The methodology used for engaging those young people who might be hard to reach will be published in a tool-kit for practitioners. The participants’ activities culminate in the final international conference organised by the YES Forum together with Dynamo International in collaboration with SALTO-YOUTH Inclusion Resource Centre. This event will be held in Brussels, presenting the project findings in creative and interactive ways, devised by the young people to reach the various actors working with disadvantaged young people across Europe, ranging from professionals of youth services and youth work to opinion formers and policy makers at EU level. RESULTS, IMPACT, LONGER TERM BENEFITS By applying this participatory approach the project aims to fill a gap in the discourse around poverty, where often the focus at national and EU level is on statistics and the definition of poverty rather than the day to day experience of young people. Local authorities and those responsible for developing services and policies for young people will benefit from our substantial knowhow in including those young people who may not otherwise be engaged in established platforms for policymaking in the youth field (e.g. youth councils, youth organisations). Thus we provide fresh ideas for both actors in the field of youth services and youth work as well as policy makers how to better target resources to disadvantaged young people’s needs. As the young people will be able to voice their opinions about issues affecting them, with a firm focus on poverty we contribute to the cornerstones of the EU 2020 Growth Strategy and the European Youth Strategy. In the longer term, the project objective is to mitigate the effects of poverty as well as tackling marginalisation and reduce youth poverty.
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