Over the past 15 years, issues around children and young people in a complex world have gripped me, and have not let go. What does it take for children and young people to grow up well? How do we organise the collaboration between all those organisations and professionals involved? And how do we learn together what works in the youth field, and why?
In short: learning and collaboration in the field of youth. As an inquisitive consultant, facilitator and editor, I support people and organisations to do this more and better.
I do this by providing insight into what works well and what could be done better, and why. For instance, by describing inspiring practices, and in particular the working mechanisms and principles. This could be about the collaboration between youth work and education, or about the governing role of municipalities in decentralised youth care. Or about the role of youth professionals in preventing radicalisation. I also use narrative research methods (Sprockler) to better understand, for instance, the impact and effects of policies or programmes.
I also bring people and organisations together, and facilitate mutual exchange and cooperation between different stakeholders. This creates space for new insights, approaches and solutions. These can be one-off meetings, and sometimes I coordinate long-term collaboration projects. For example, for the implementation of a European agenda to strengthen youth work in the Netherlands.
Thus, learning and collaboration often go hand in hand. Whether it is about collaborative learning, or learning to collaborate. I am happy to support organisations in this and give advice. For instance, for the collaborating Care and Safety Centres we explored the opportunities and possibilities of setting up learning network organisations around complex cases, for instance in preventing radicalisation.
Besides young people and the field of youth, the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa) is also close to my heart. A region where more than half of the population is under 30, and which faces complex challenges. I started learning Arabic to better understand the region. And also here I have seen the room for learning and collaboration, for example on youth policy and youth work in Morocco.
I do all of this out of a deep conviction: we can make better use of our collective knowledge, experience ánd imagination to address the complex issues of our time.
Examples of what I do
A new project on strengthening youth work taught me a lot about dealing with complex issues. Three practical insights that could also be of value for others.
How can we use storytelling to better learn from best practices in the field of youth? A personal quest for stories as an indispensable source of knowledge for everyone working with and for children and young people.
In recent years, a lot of experience has been gained with the prevention of radicalisation and the role of youth professionals in it. For a Dutch ministry, we collected best practices, extracted the most important insights and described them in online magazines.
Curious about stories on the complexity of the Middle East and North Africa? Sign up for the lunch interviews or subscribe to the podcast!
Even for a complex issue like countering radicalisation, professionals can learn from experiences in other cities and regions. A national team of ‘zorg- en veiligheidshuizen’ wanted to collect the available expertise and make it applicable in practice, in order to help improve the approach in all regions.
Children, young people and parents with complex problems are not always well served by youth care services. What can we learn from their stories and from the experiences of professionals? And how can we improve the care and assistance provided to other children and families?