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Greater Manchester’s Mayor marks end of major youth research project

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, has attended an event to mark the end of a major project which has researched the experiences of marginalised young people in ten countries across the EU.

Young people are often at the forefront of social, cultural and political change, driven by their energy and creativity, but also by their frustration at the challenges and barriers they face. The PROMISE project, led by Dr Jo Deakin of The University of Manchester, investigated young people’s responses to these challenges, focusing particularly on those who encounter conflicts with authority.

These young people are seen to be problematic to engage with, often triggering negative responses from authority, which marginalises them even more. The negative effect of this reduces opportunities for young people, and much of their creativity, innovation and energy is directed away from positive social change.

The researchers believe that youth ‘in conflict’ present significant opportunities for change – and should therefore be a main focus for policy makers and practitioners.

This project explored differences in youth attitudes and behaviour across Europe, as well as looking closely at youth engagement and innovation – it found that no two countries were the same, but that there were similarities in young people’s experiences.

The researchers found that young people in Spain responded to the 2008 financial crash – and resulting property market collapse – by doing maintenance work instead of paying rent, living communally, and even building their own homes. Meanwhile, LGBT youth in Russia facing state-led discrimination were motivated to develop activists’ associations and youth-led social initiatives, and in Italy, disadvantaged young street artists worked towards transforming their marginalisation into something positive.