Monday, March 27, 2017

San Sadurniño's youth asks for better communication with the city council

The City Council of San Sadurniño carried out a project of locating and identifying the possible NEETs within the limits of its territory. Therefore, this service was divided into four phases:
  1. Implication of the key agents.
  2. Investigation of the youth.
  3. Management of two participative meetings.
  4. Communication and spreading of the service.
First of all, it should be highlighted that San Sadurniño is quite a big town within its geographical area, with a low and spread population. These geographical characteristics shape the social dynamics, influencing the ways of relating, communicating and mobility. That’s why it is necessary to know this territorial configuration when starting a research-action process with the young people of the council.
Being aware of this context, it was essential TO INVOLVE KEY AGENTS from San Sadurniño. There were four meetings in July: with several associations and sport clubs, local experts, local politicians, and the educative centre. It was necessary to ask for collaboration in order to create a database with young people from San Sadurniño, and also to spread the participative process.
The next step was visiting sport clubs, cultural associations, and other strategic and informal points where young people meet (i.e. bars, pubs or parties like “Sons na Cortiña” Festival) in order TO INVESTIGATE THE YOUTH. This was an attempt to contact as much young people as possible by going to their meeting points, taking into account that usual ways of communication would not work due to the spread of population and the apparent indifference young people have towards the activities promoted by the council. Young people found in these places were individually asked about their present situation (working, studying, working and studying, studying and looking for a job, etc.), but also to find out their concerns about activities, equipment, and local services.
By the end, the database was formed by 121 youngsters, of which 48 were between 18 and 29 years old, and 73 under 18. Once the database was created, every person was contacted both through calls and instant messages to invite them to the participative meetings. It is worth mentioning the innovative communication, at least in this council, since it was adapted to the habitual ways of communication of young people (texting and social networks). In particular a video was created ( and was sent through an instant message app to those people on the database, so they could be informed and could resend the video to their own contacts.
TWO PARTICIPATIVE MEETINGS (“opportunity cocktails”) were held and in order to make easier the attendance of many youngsters, they took place at different times (morning and evening) and days (weekdays and weekend). Thus, the first meeting was placed on the Monday 24th of October at 5pm, and the second one on the Saturday 29th of October at 11am.
At the two meetings held, some interesting information was detected. On what refers to the term “NEET”, at first it seemed to be a confusing definition for the participants. They wouldn´t know which characteristics defines a person as a “NEET”, but at the end they all agreed describing a “NEET” as a person with a lack of interest to find a job. This means, a person who doesn´t study and has no job but is trying to look for one, should not be considered as a “NEET”. Only those who “do not study, do not work, and do not want to” due to a lack of motivation, or even because it is more comfortable (“their parents allow them to”) can be defined as NEETs.
Apparently the young people who answered the survey and attended the meetings were not NEETs, but they show worries about their future. We found a growing worry due to the lack of opportunities and the difficulties to find a job after finishing their studies. They also think that this lack of opportunities may end up in less motivation, and therefore, inactivity. Moreover, the transmission of preconceived ideas through family and school is another factor for lesser motivation. These ideas spin around the supposition that University offers more job opportunities than occupational training courses. Anyway, technical and health degrees have more reputation than arts and social sciences related degrees. That may be one of the reasons why young people find an extra pressure that, added to the few opportunities, leads to becoming a NEET.
This research on the youth of San Sadurniño resulted in 21 proposals to respond to these scenarios of future, which can be summarized in the following topics:
  • Training and employment
  • Activities
  • Municipal activities and services
  • Sports and cultural facilities
  • Communication
  • Mobility
A way to fight youth inactivity is to offer job training, courses, and also cultural and leisure activities. However, it is useless to have a great offer of activities if that information does not reach the audience, which seems to happen in San Sadurniño. In fact, the youngsters pointed out both in survey and meetings, that the communication is not effective. They don´t know enough about the offer of activities and services the administration has. If the information does not reach its audience, the activities will not have enough attendance and, therefore, will be cancelled. In this sense, people attending the meetings gave possible solutions to improve the communication from the council towards the youth. In particular they suggested the use of images with almost no text through apps like Instagram or Whatsapp, that is to say, adapting the ways of communication that young people have.
As important as improving the communication is to adapt the offer to what the youth demands. In that way, the meetings were also used to find out what the young people from San Sadurniño are interested in. It was easy to see, with differences between sex and age, the interest in sports, information about employment, tourism (travelling abroad, languages courses), shows (dancing, music, theatre, etc.), computer science, videogames and workshops for artistic expression, among other activities. In order to encourage the attendance to the activities offered by the council, it was suggested to create a meeting point, for example the Youth House. It would be ideal if it was filled with contents, to be used for the younger ones (under 18) for leisure, and also for those over 18 with a job training focus.
Another way to encourage the participation of youngsters is to let them participate in the decision-making process of politics and activities. The people who attended the meetings wanted the Council to co-desing the local youth politics, activities and services. This idea consisted in regular meetings of youth sector-based committees with political workers, or the reservation of an item for youth policies in the participatory budgeting among other ideas.

Finally, must be mentioned that the COMMUNICATION OF THE SERVICE was based on a continuous creation of contents for social networks and council’s webpage. In fact, there were posted 11 news and events on web page, facebook, twitter and local press, with 3.340 followers in social media channels. Besides that, every person of the database was contacted both through calls and instant messages to invite them to the participative meetings.

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