The INCLUSO Manual

Are you working with Youth at Risk? Are you interested in social media? Then this publication is for you.

Social media tools like Netlog, Facebook, Ning, You Tube, Twitter, chatboxes and so on are all over the place. They have become an integrated part of many young people’s lives. On the other hand, social organisations working with youth at risk are often unfamiliar with the possibilities that these new tools can offer. Often, there is fear and even hostility that only trouble and more work will arise if an organisation attempts to use social media to engage youth at risk.

This publication promotes the use of social media as a tool to support social inclusion of youth at risk. By tapping into the aspirations of young people, new forms of communication can guide them to expand and diversify their networks to their benefit, to develop skills and interests and improve their self-esteem.

In the INCLUSO project, nine European partners, including technical and educational experts and four pilot partners directly involved in engagement with disadvantaged young people, worked together on how to use social media tools to benefit youth at risk. This was all carried out within the framework of a European project (www.incluso.org).

The findings and lessons learned are brought together in this publication, in a format supporting organisations to build experience. We were also inspired by the Social by Social publication that talks about the social uses of technology. 

After an introduction into social media and youth at risk, a series of guidelines is provided to assist an organisation in setting up a social media project. These guidelines include defining project goals, preparing for the use of new tools, and monitoring and evaluating progress. This publication also includes a discussion of sustainability, which the INCLUSO project put at the centre of its objectives. Attention is given to safety, ethical matters, privacy and security. We also suggest tools for following up efforts and measuring results.

Most of all, we want to share the stories from our four pilot projects. They have been running for 18 months in Brussels, Vienna, Krakau and Aberdeen and have accumulated a wide range of experience. These are stories which illustrate a rise, fall and rise again, and we hope that you can learn from them.

One thing is certain: this is only the dawn of what will come. Social media will change in form, purpose and scale. It will mature, grow stronger and permeate the world of young people. Organisations working with youth at risk cannot stay on the sideline and are urged to develop organisational skills that enable them to benefit from the opportunities on offer, and to limit the risks involved in online activities. We hope this publication will inspire you.