The VOICE partnership brings together key players working within and/or with the justice sector, namely Youth NGOs, government bodies and NGOs supporting the development of youth at risk and young adult offenders. All partners share the common objective of developing and/or improving young adult offenders’ participation in community, skills development and youth policy reform.
On the governmental side, partners include prison & probation services aiming to improve the quality of the young adult offenders’ care, and ultimately decrease the likelihood of them reoffending. Another aim is to increase young people’s success when they become adults. On the non-governmental side, partners are organisations that work to meet the different and complex set of needs of youth at risk and young adult offenders, boosting their skills and motivation to change.
Young offenders often have needs “…[which] are complex and multiple, and commonly include poverty (many have not yet experienced work), educational failure, substance misuse, mental health problems, homelessness, young parenthood and leaving care”.
The VOICE aims to create safe environments for young people deprived of their liberty in order to foster their sense of community, empower them and help them make an impact on policy which concerns them. This is done through Youth Dialogue meetings (with key stakeholders and policy makers) and youth mobilities gathering young people from Portugal, Lithuania, Spain, Romania, Netherlands, United Kingdom, and Italy.
The primary goals of the project are to strengthen the participating young people’s sense of EU citizenship, increase their critical thinking and political literacy; foster democratic leadership, communication skills, civic and emotional competences; and essentially, promote the development of life skills which will produce an impact on their life path, which in turn, may reduce their chances of reoffending.
The VOICE addresses the EU Youth Strategy’s three areas of action. Firstly, young participants are encouraged to “engage”in policies and strategies which concern them. They then “connect” with other young people from across the partner countries. Their skills are developed and a sense of community responsibility is fostered to “empower” them further.
There are several steps in the form of working packages in place to reach the objectives of the project:
- 1 – Project Management, Coordination & Internal Communication
- 2 – Creation of a Training Toolbox to engage and train young adult offenders on European projects and European values
- 3 – Participatory Action – Bottom-up approach, peer-led sessions with young people and key stakeholders take place
- 4 – Young people on the move- Youth mobility training programmes commence
- 5 – External Communication & Dissemination- The results of the project are communicated through different media.
- 6 – Quality, Evaluation and Sustainability of the project
- Develop and implement a strategy from the ground up, supported by the partner organisations, which will promote the representation of the voice of young people that are deprived of their liberty in the EU youth policies;
- Place the voices of young adult people deprived of their liberty together with those of other young people, and centre them in the policies and strategies that concern them, namely EU policies;
- Empower young people that are deprived of their liberty by creating awareness of their role at community level, enabling them to better participate and discover that they are capable of ‘making a difference’;
- Establish trust and create safe environments for young adults that are both at risk of committing crimes and/or deprived of their liberty, and by doing so, enhance their sense of belonging and solidarity;
- Create immediate responses to mitigate the potential impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on violent extremist recruitment and radicalisation, namely on young people in contact with the Criminal Justice System.
- Engage key stakeholders in the field in a process of developing a way forward to respond to the gap of the lack of visibility of young people deprived of their liberty at the centre of the policies that concern them.
- Uphold the European Youth Together action as the partnership seeks to boost a sense of European citizenship for this under-represented group of young people by organising training and roundtables with stakeholders.