Eurofound, the European Foundation for the improvement of Living and Working Conditions, launched a 2-year project ending in 2019 on access of young people to information and support services, in particular social and health services. The objective is to document the ways in which young people access support services and how they use the information provided. It also aims to identify inequalities in access. A comprehensive research conducted in all EU Member States will initially assess young people’s needs in terms of social inclusion and health. Once the needs have been assessed, the most relevant services will be identified and asked to participate in a questionnaire. After analysing the questionnaire, a final report will be published in 2019.

The European Social Network participated at this workshop, which brought together representatives from civil society, academia, international and European organisations and service providers to discuss a draft concept paper based on the first results of a research conducted in 28 European countries identifying young people’s needs. It also examined how to approach case studies on the provision of services to young people and explored how a questionnaire aimed at services providers might be carried out.

As the network for public social services in Europe, ESN contributed its expertise on young people’s needs, particularly for vulnerable groups who are at high risk of being socially excluded. ESN highlighted young people in care because in many cases they are more at risk of developing mental health problems, experiencing isolation as a result of weak or no social networks, and are more likely to leave education early. The fact that these vulnerable young people could also end up having problems integrating into the job market was also highlighted. In addition, it was pointed out that adequate housing and independent life skills are also crucial factors in determining life chances.

ESN is looking forward to the next steps of the project and the results of the comprehensive research on access of young people to information and support services that will be conducted.

ESN’s recent activities on young people’s needs and access to services

ESN has organised a series of European events in recent years in which youth issues have been recognised as crucial topics for discussion. In 2012 for example, ESN organised a seminar, ‘Vulnerable youth in transition: Care and support into adulthood’, which addressed services for those leaving care and dropping out of school.

Later, in 2015, the workshop: ‘European youth between education and employment: improving young people's participation in society’ reviewed the causes and impact of early school leaving along with barriers to successful transitions from school to work, with a particular focus on the EU Youth Guarantee.

In 2016, the workshop, ‘Young offenders in Europe: active inclusion and rehabilitation’ provided a platform to discuss the mental health, educational attainment, and labour market integration of young offenders. ESN’s policy director Alfonso Lara Montero also wrote an article in The Guardian newspaper where he outlined the importance of supporting programmes for vulnerable young people regarding access to employment and secure housing, and of continuing in education.

In October 2017 a seminar on ‘’Migrant children and young people: social inclusion and transition to adulthood will be organised in Stockholm to discuss the issues regarding access to services and how to guarantee young migrants the best possible transition to adulthood. As a continuation of its work on young people and migration, the seminar will be an opportunity to review the best practices in the field of social inclusion and access to housing, healthcare, education and employment services for young migrants.