The increased strain on social care services in European Union countries related to sharp cuts in governmental funding, as well as the perceived increase in the radicalisation of young people have showed once again the importance of prevention in youth work. Between May 20th and May 21st, YES Forum member organizations and guests came together in Bordeaux, France, to learn more about the essential approach of specialised prevention (prévention specialisée). The topic of this year’s event was “Detached, outreach and street-based work – how to reach and involve young marginalised people in their communities”.
Our aim was to create a space for exchange and debate about a method of youth work that actively pursues clients in their communities, and which focuses on serious difficulties encountered by young people related to housing, employment, crime, poverty and physical and mental health. Together with our member, Comité National de Liaison des Acteurs de Prévention Specialisée (CNLAPS), and its regional affiliate Action Jeunesse Pessac, as well as with the support of the Conseil Départemental de la Gironde, we invited youth workers from local and regional organizations to share their experiences and good practices with the participants.
Their presentations included both historical accounts of the development of specialized prevention in France, and community-level initiatives and concrete youth work practices. The keynote speeches also revealed both the particularities of the French context for youth social work, and the similarities of challenges in the field at the European level. The unifying theme of the discussions was the necessity of a vision of prevention instead of treatment, especially amid diminished budgetary resources, combined with an individualized approach to working with young people.