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Unik

Who

Västerås stads Gymnasie- och vuxenutbildning

Why

To ensure that all young persons regardless of political interest or awareness get to have a say in the process of local political decision making.
The method is based on studies of young persons´ different political engagement. The studies show that it is usually the politically active young persons who are invited when politicians want dialogue with young persons. Since they only amount to 6% of the youth population, the three other groups amounting to 94% are mostly forgotten and have no say.

What

Youth Dialogue has chosen to focus on forming a network of young persons recruiting from groups that do not usually speak up, using the UNIK (unique) method.

The main tool is very simple and consists of four postcards in four different colors. On one side, there is a short text describing a political engagement type and on the back there is a form where the youth can register to join UNIK.

Young persons who do not usually identify with concepts like politics read the descriptions of the different political engagement groups, and see that the material applies to them regardless of how they identify themselves.

Each year we have about five workshops where important issues that concern young perons are discussed. An invitation goes out to all those wo have registered to join UNIK.

To make all young persons participate equally in the workshop they are divided into groups, independent of which group they originally belonged to. The message is reinforced by the material showing what the colors represent, giving each participant an identity.

With the information on the back of the cards we have created a still growing network of now over 440 young persons in Västerås. The network consists of young persons with an even mixture of genders, cultural backgrounds and engagement level. This is also reflected in the young persons who attend our workshops.

Due to the simplicity of the project resources, it has been straightforward to implement.

How

To reach young persons we (Project Manager and UNIK Consultants) approach them 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 great! 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 persons are unique and needed to build a sustainable society.

Pre-training Information meetings are held.
We show that we accept that young persons have different levels of political engagement, and that their opinion still counts.

The project is managed by a Project Manager, whose responsibilities include coordinating, facilitating and record keeping. 14 young persons UNIK Consultants are trained in the project methodology and active listening skills. 440 young persons are being supported by UNIK Consultants and professional staff through regular voluntary meetings/workshops.

When

About five workshops annually where young persons meet with politicians and discuss local politics. Recruiting new members to the UNIK network monthly by visiting youth clubs, schools, fairs and other places where young persons meet. This method is yet to be tried out in schools. There is a pilot study about to start where the method will be evaluated to see if it works to replace the traditional student council board.

Effect

This is an effective project based on young persons` feedback, an increasing number of attendance at the meetings and a greater diversity of engagement groups amongst the particpants. Numbers have increased from an average of 2-3 to 30-40.

Assessment

Effectiveness:

High degree / regularly

Gender sensitivity:

High degree / regularly

Culture sensitivity:

High degree / regularly

Doable (practical):

High degree / regularly

Participatory:

High degree / regularly

Replicable and adaptable:

High degree / regularly

Assessment/evaluated:

High degree / regularly

Type of good practice

Methods, Practical tool

Themes

Democratic dialogue, Youth civic participation

Duration

One month or less

Type of activity

Group activity

Resourses

Cards, Training materials, Posters, Roll-ups. Project methodology manual, Evaluation report. All in Swedish, but the cards are translated.

Contact

Marika Hämeenniemi

Sweden