Preston youngsters needed for European project

12 October 2022

UCLan is looking for 14 to 21-year-olds to take part in a research study

Preston has a leading role in a ground-breaking European research project aimed at improving the lives of young people – and organisers are looking for more young people to take part.

Project researchers from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) are looking for a diverse range of young people aged between 14 and 21-years-old to join the project and help improve the lives and futures of young people in the city.

Funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme, YouCount is a multi-university project involving nine countries which is asking young people how they can be more socially included in their communities.

Preston’s young people who join the project will get the opportunity to raise issues affecting them, talk about how socially included or excluded they feel, and be part of designing changes they think need to happen.

As well as influencing decisions made in the city, the project will help young people develop their communication and decision-making skills which they can take forward into their future careers.

As part of the project young people – known as Young Citizen Scientists – will get the opportunity to meet with other young people across Europe, identify possibilities for improving their communities and work together with policy and decision makers to create change.

"The YouCount project is centred on the principle of young people having an equal say in decisions with researchers"

Dr Julie Ridley, UCLan's Director of Centre for Citizenship and Community

Initially through participating in a series of training events and workshops starting at the end of October, young people decide on how the project develops. They can choose to organise a series of listening events, which might be film or pizza nights, a community performance, speaking to individuals or groups, surveys - or anything else that helps listen to young people’s voices.

The project is being facilitated by a team of professional and student researchers at UCLan’s Centre for Citizenship and Community led by Dr Julie Ridley and creative professional Garry Cook.

The extensive experience of participatory community work in Preston which Dr Ridley has been involved with previously includes the successful Preston Connected Communities Project in Broadgate.

Dr Ridley said: “The YouCount project is centred on the principle of young people having an equal say in decisions with researchers. It aims to address complex challenges faced by young people in society across Europe, offering opportunities for young people to participate more in society and feel more connected to their communities.

“Highlighting areas where young people feel socially included and excluded, young people will share their research and insights with local policymakers and community leaders in a Living Lab to stimulate positive change.”

The city of Preston represents the UK in the project. The other countries taking part are Norway, Sweden, Spain, Austria, Lithuania, Denmark, Hungary, Italy.

Benefits will include becoming part of a network of Young Citizen Scientists across Europe interested in change, contributing to how the research results are communicated and developing new ideas for change, gaining learning opportunities and social benefits.

The contributions which young people make to scientific evidence which address local, national and international issues can have the potential to influence policy at local, national, and international level.

For more information or if you are a young person or a parent/carer of a young person who you think would like to take part please contact Farwa Batool, Senior Research Assistant, via email.

Find out more about the YouCount project online and the UCLan part of the project can be viewed online.