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Vasteras sms-panel

Who

Sweden, Västerås stad, Ungdomsdialog

Why

To simplify the influence process so that a large number of youngsters get to participate and have a saying in the political decision process.

What

The method is formed after the second step in the latter of participation (the Swedish version) which is consultation. In this level of participation the youngster has a limited influence in the subject. It can be the possibility to choose between A or B or to answer in at scale from 1-10 how much they appreciate something or chose between already fixed answers. In a more scientific way this is to be compared to quantitative survey.

The youngsters answer question sent from the municipality using there cellphones. Via a website called pixie.se there answers are collected in an excel file. This makes it possible to compare the different variable registered to each participant. In Västerås we use: year of birth, gender, residential area and there cellphone number. This ensure that we have a mixture of genders, cultures and backgrounds.

It is straight forward to implement an sms-board/panel. Ones you know that the municipality is intressted in listening to the voices of youngsters you can start collecting participants to the sms-board.

How

Selection
To reach young people we use the method young2young. Then approach youngsters where they meet, trying to catch their interest. We ask if they want to be involved in and influence local politics. Usually the answer is no and they start to walk away. Our answer to that is: that's good: in that case, you're just the one we want to talk to! This gives us an opening to make our point; that all young people are unique and needed to build a sustainable society.

Preparation
We show that it doesn’t have to be complicated to participate in the society and be part of the decision making process. It’s a first-step-in which involve even those with very low level of political engagement.

Training
8 ‘Youngster’ UNIK Consultants are trained in a summer project of 3 weeks. The first week is training where learning about the sms-panel is one thing amongst other.
900 ‘Youngsters’ are contacted through sms/text-messages approximately 10 times a year. About 35 % of them answer each questions, which brings about 300 answers on every question. Within 20 minutes most of the answers are delivered. Within 1 day no more answers appear, so I’ts a very quick and effective method and each time the sms goes out it is also assessed by the different variables. The effect is instant. A stronger assessment would be to ask the politicians how effective they think the method is to them, but that is jet to be.


Supervision
The youngsters who are collecting the numbers are supervise during the three weeks of work by Project Manager.

Management
The sms-panel is managed by Project Manager, whose responsibilities include collecting the data through the website pixie.se and deliver the result to the responsible official.

Effect/Assessment

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When

This method can be used at the beginning of a youth dialogue process to increase the commitment of young people and to ensure that we reach a diversity of young people.

Resources

'Youth consultants', Cards, Project methodology manual, Evaluation report.