Which lessons can the city learn from the Charlois youth policy? That was the question in the recently completed research ‘Lessons from the Charlois youth policy’. With the prospect of the sub-municipalities disappearing as a governmental Charlois’ youngsters assist in evaluating the youth policy layer this is a very current question. Before the responsibilities concerning youth, wellbeing and accommodation policy can transferred to the urban services an assessment needs to be made with respect to the accommodation policy and improvements are necessary with regard to the accessibility for youngsters.
With the Charlois youth policy an important step has been set towards a new welfare policy in which existing organizations take on new roles. The change to demand-based working and the investing in youth participation from various talent development programs is a trend that can also be observed in other parts of the city and even at the national level. Charlois is a forerunner where it concerns the integrality of policies and investing in demand-based youth work. As such, Charlois offers a broad spectrum of experimental policy renewal in various other fields.
Through focus groups, interviews and a conference research has been conducted into the effectiveness of the three major focal points of the youth policy: youth participation, talent development and a healthy lifestyle. In collaboration with TOS, DOCK and practical educational programs, eleven focus groups were organized with more than 70 youths from the sub-municipality, ranging from age 12 till 23.
The first thing one notices is that youngsters are full of initiatives, but that these initiatives don’t come to live spontaneously without some form of support. When the municipality and government expect that youngsters participate, one must also pose the question of how to effectively support this desired participation. In Charlois Thuis op Straat (TOS) (or: At Home Outside) has been given a big role with respect to the organization of activities for youngster in the outdoor environment. An organization such as TOS, that reaches youngster in their free time, seems adept in supporting youngsters with their initiatives. This varies from setting up programs such as ‘jong burger blauw’ (neighborhood watch by youngsters) to setting up a free-running course in the Zuiderpark.
The one-sided focus on outdoor activities does however have a downside. Girls, but also overweight youngsters, feel less at ease in the outdoor environment and tend to be shut out. Since welfare organizations can no longer offer accommodation-based activities, it seems that the accommodations have become increasingly less accessible for youngsters that want to organize activities themselves.