Defining and choosing a user group – who do we mean by ‘young people’?

Charlotte Lamb

So far on this project, we have been talking about ‘young people’. But this is a broad definition. For a start, there are millions of young people!

‘young people’ does not specify an age group. A child is anyone under the age of 18. The United Nations considers anyone between the ages of 15 – 24 a ‘youth’. But charities working with young people in the UK help young people in much more varied age ranges.

Then we have been asking ourselves – do we mean all young people? Or are we seeking to work with those who have specific needs, or the highest needs?

In the first phase of the My Best Life project, NPC and its partners worked with young people living in Camden, aged 18-25, facing multiple disadvantage.

As this research will inform this second phase of My Best Life, an argument for consistency is strong – that we should focus on the same group of young people – those aged 18-25, facing multiple disadvantage. Involving those from a wider geography may also generate insights.

But by doing this, are we missing a key group in need? Should we open up involvement in this project to a wider group of young people?

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Hillary Box

We work with young parents in Lambeth. Whilst they share many of the disadvantages described, there are also significant additional issues for young people in Lambeth: eg very high incidence of gangs, and violence against women and girls.
Young parents face huge difficulties in moving from NEET, such as affordable childcare –v- availability & cost of housing. In addition, young parents may find accessing services difficult, feeling that they are aimed at older parents. For young fathers this feeling of exclusion is endemic. “Us dads don’t mean squat”, I’m tired, I’m tired, I’m done. It’s like no one is listening to me or seeing the changes I’m making.” (Young father to St Michael’s practitioner)
“Young fathers are almost invisible in policy, statutory services and society; in fact there are no accurate records of how many young dads live in the UK today.” (Left Out, Young Dads Collective 2015)
In terms of your dilemma about opening up the project to a wider audience of young people, I don’t have an answer, except that it’s good to have a funder who gives you the possibility.