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European Conference for Social Street Work: “OutReach Work”

“You are worth existing …” A senior member of the Emfasis Social Street work team participated in the European Conference (“OutReach Work – Working together to reach and empower marginalized youth”) on Social Street Work with emphasis on youth which was held in Oslo, Norway the first week of April. Some of the questions to be answered through lectures and research were: – Where does the youth place itself on the streets? – Who protects the working minors? – How society reacts to this reality? The youth today is a controversial social structure whilst at the same time, a seismograph of social change. Young people are confronted daily with multiple changes in their environment; pressurized by commercial and consumer habits; they have to delay their steady professional career, experiencing all the demographic and cultural changes. When particular difficulties appear, the Social Street Work aims to accompany them in their pursuit, by offering them benchmarks, building on the skills they have already developed. Children are being converted to alternative economies through their work, with the following results: – withdrawal – increase of depression (following their emotional reaction to withdrawal) – They act outside the norm (bullying-mobbing) – Hyperactivity and over-competivenss symptoms Child labour is an anti-educational tool. The purpose of all the Street Workers is the timely warning ahead of such changes, reconnecting the youth with with the social structures and decision-making entities. Our goal is for the young people to set limits and respect their rights, giving them back their emotional security. Our role is two-fold: – to show them that they are not alone seeking their identity and – that they are important to us, no approach should be considered as a threat. Structural Violence – Cultural Violence are the two main obstacles for the empowerment of young people. Street Workers worldwide believe in the following simple motto: It is not something you are, it is something you do … and it is related to the inequality as a social process. Concluding, let us keep the following acronym in mind in order to remove it soon from the scientific platforms: NEET (Not in Employment, Education or Training) for young people “You are worth existing” according to professor Walter A.Lorenz (University of Bolzano, Italy) for all the young people out in the streets. For every child who works , there will be a Street Worker to remind him or her of the value of his existence. Tzoanna Tsoukala Clinical psychologist – Senior member of Emfasis Foundation

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