Working with NEET: Vamos’ strength lies in its unique approach and multidisciplinary collaboration
Vamos coach Heidi Turunen wrote her Master’s thesis on Vamos’ working method. “The elements that stood out as effective and impactful were time, genuine and individual encounters, the creation of trust, support for young people’s participation and agency, and the opportunity to receive support holistically for different areas of life.”
The risk of youth exclusion is seen as a topical challenge throughout Europe. Studies show that education, work and the experience of inclusion help young people to engage with society. When working with a heterogeneous NEET (Not in Employment, Education or Training) target group, the passage to education, training and employment can require lengthy processes for some young people to achieve the desired sustainable change, impact and outcomes.
Often, young people have life experiences in the background that negatively affect their confidence in themselves, in other people and in society. They may also need help from the very beginning to identify the need for change and to become motivated. For example, challenges such as mental health, substance abuse, learning difficulties, homelessness, debt and life management will affect a young person’s path to education and employment.
It’s therefore essential to work with the young person on change and to create a solid foundation so that the transition to education or employment is timely and the young person has the opportunity to succeed.
The Deaconess Foundation’s Vamos youth services have been proven to be effective in providing support and coaching to young people in tough life situations. The City of Espoo has invested in the services for vulnerable young people and has funded Vamos Espoo for almost ten years. Young people in Espoo, Kirkkonummi and Kauniainen can benefit from intensive group and individual coaching towards education and work.
The right approach
Personally, I have had the opportunity to work in Vamos Espoo and at the Ohjaamotalo youth guidance centre from the outset, as part of the Espoo story and the journey of many young people. Especially when a young person is facing many difficulties and challenges in his or her life, the way of working, the work attitude, becomes even more important. The thesis for my Master’s degree dealt with Vamos’ working method (abstract in English Sulaoja&Turunen, 2021).
The results of the study are in line with international research findings. In services and concrete work with NEET young people, time, genuine and individual encounters, building trust, supporting young people’s participation and agency, and the opportunity to receive holistic support in different areas of life are among the elements of the working method that are effective and efficient. Itla’s study on Vamos’ effectiveness also highlights the importance of non-urgent support, one-on-one encounters, being accepted and cared for, and support that meets the young person’s needs.
Importance of collaboration
Effective and competent stakeholder and network collaboration matters and is a huge asset. Espoo has succeeded in this. The Ohjaamotalo, which brings together different services for young people aged 16-29, is a great example of how multidisciplinary and multi-professional cooperation can be made even better by boldly developing structures. At its best, multidisciplinary cooperation enables young people to get the support and help they need at the right time and in a way that benefits them.
Let’s continue to create a common good in the long term, through co-development with young people and different actors!
Heidi Turunen is a coach in the Vamos Espoo team.
Translator Mark Waller.