One of the COMANITY’s main objectives is to develop a new youth work and volunteering role –the Community Animateur. A new role that enables youth workers to “step into the shoes” of marginalised young people, understand their needs, and provide a credible and trusted source of support to help them realise their potential and play an active role improving their communities. This new role implies a competences framework for the Community Animateur, a training for enabling youth workers on this new role and a methodology that support CA for triggering the active role of young people on the improvement of their own environment.
The methodology behind the active role of young people is the Participatory Action Research. The objective is to support young people as “knowledge co-producers”, actively working in collaboration with the Community Animateur in the development of their own interventions in contrast to the traditional models of “transmissive” behavior change.
The PAR is originally a qualitative research methodology that have multiple definitions, and is applied in a wide range of fields of action. The Community Animateur is not a researcher by definition, but this methodology will support him/her for the collective self-experimentation and reflection that will lead to the transformation of the young people lives by themselves.
Participatory Action Research (PAR) is an approach to research and social intervention that highlights the participation of the own subjects of the action in the investigation of a research problem and the implementation of solutions to produce a real change in the situation of the collective:
Action Research is a systematic approach to investigation that enables people to find effective solutions to problems they confront in their everyday lives. (Stringer 2007, p.1)
This is a systematic search process that requires the collection of information about an issue or problem, the analysis and reflection on the data and the development and implementation of practical interventions that imply a positive change in the lives of people. It is motivated by the purpose of reaching a better understanding of the root of the problems and achieving effective actions for its transformation.
The Comanity project partnership produced a manual for the Design and Implementation Plan for Community Action Research Experiments based on PAR that has been the support for piloting activities in project countries (UK, Spain, Italy and Greece).
PARTICIPATORY ACTION RESEARCH IN SPAIN
In the case of Spain, three action researches took place, lead by three different organisations and targeted to different young people groups:
- Don’t hide me!: Prevention of stigma associated with mental illness
– Organisation: PADRE MENI (Psychosocial rehabilitation)
– Problem: Young people with mental illness feel the stigma of being ill.
– Outcome: Talks in school centres
- Youth and social networks: risks and benefits
– Organisation: AMICA (Association of support for disabled people)
– Problem: Lack of sense of privacy and risk on social media for young people with disabilities.
– Outcome: Workshops
- Breaking Barriers
– Organisations: 14 Kms (support of migrant people) and Agentes de la Calle (Association to promote art among young people)
– Problem: difficulties of young migrant people to connect with locals.
– Outcome: Local rappers and graffiti artists of the similar age working together in a mural
5 Youth workers, 4 volunteers and more than 100 young people participated in the implementation of the action research experiments in Spain that were shown at the final conference of the project in Brussels on 13th November 2019, with a great acceptance by the international audience attended the meeting.
On behalf of Documenta we want to thank all the participants in the Comanity pilot activities in Spain for their involvement, selfless collaboration and effort that have led to excellent results.