In recent years, many researchers, policy-makers and youth workers have emphasised the need for a more participatory youth research, focused on a realistic understanding of young people’s experiences and needs in order to act on their well-being and quality of life. Indeed, research involving young people, especially those having a caring role, is quite rare as it requires the negotiation of gatekeepers who, too often, desert for fear of child protection interventions, invasion of privacy, or for other reasons considered not in the best interest of the young person or family. And it is in this complex context that the Erasmus+ NEXUS project wants to make the difference.

During its 36-month duration, the NEXUS project aims to strengthen the links between policy, research and practice promoting quality, innovation and recognition in youth work and supporting active citizenship, sense of initiative and youth entrepreneurship, including the social one. How does it propose to do this? By providing youth workers, i.e., all those who deal with young people in various capacities, with those skills considered essential to engage their audience in participatory and action research, best suited to inform decision-making at all levels of governance. The training of youth workers as agents of change becomes indispensable when supporting groups at risk of marginalisation such as young carers, namely those children, adolescents and young adults who take on, too early for their young age, enormous informal care responsibilities for one or more family members, with a severe impact on their education, health, well-being, social opportunities and job prospect. More than ever in these cases, it is crucial to ensure that policy, research and practice are closely interlinked, enabling young carers in particular – but not only – to take an active role in participatory and action research that can provide more information about their life experiences and thus inform policy and practice. Based on this, the NEXUS project aims to develop a set of resources aimed at making youth workers more competent and aware in engaging young people in participatory research and policy consultation mechanisms, including a multilingual learning course to contribute to youth caregiver research and policy; an open educational resource (OER) on evidence-based policy development and policy recommendations to promote youth worker engagement in policy and research. Coordinated by Redial (Ireland), the NEXUS Consortium is composed of four other organisations active in supporting innovation in care services and social inclusion: EDRA (Greece),

Eurocarers (Belgium), INRCA – National Institute of Health and Science on Ageing (Italy) and Anziani e non solo (Italy).  In view of the first transnational partners’ meeting to be held in Dublin in June 2023, the NEXUS partnership is pleased to announce the launch of the project website that will be constantly updated on the project’s phases and results.

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