How to get insight and co-create with young people in vulnerable life situations?


In the Finnish pilot, this question was raised among the civil servants. They appeared skeptic whether young people belonging to the target group could be encouraged to co-create with “experts” and “adults”. In addition, their own efforts to identify young people through their channels to be interviewed by the community reporters through their channels led nowhere.

The pilot team tackled these challenges. Firstly, the community reporters were students and thus the same age as the target group. They used their own personal networks to find young people in difficult life situations and through those contacts, they identified more interviewees. As a result, they managed to interview 22 young people belonging to the target group in only two weeks.

The lesson to be learned: It is easier to tell your story to your peer. If you want to get insight from young people, hire easy-to-approach young people to do the job.

Secondly, in the service co-creation phase, the civil servants felt that these young people needed a safe space where they could speak without interruption, and that the service innovation phase could be based on the insight given by the young people. The innovation-phase would however,  only involve experts and not the customers present.

The pilot team encouraged the civil servants to try to include the customers in the innovation phase and see what would happen. As it turned out, the youngsters that showed up at the co-creation workshop were not shy to share their views in the presence of civil servants and third sector. They all had difficult life stories, but they were already survivors or on their pathway to recovery. In order to offer them the opportunity to decide what to share or not to share about themselves, and yet share their insights, the pilot team used profiles based on the community reporter videos. This allowed the young people to imagine what could help this kind of person, while they at the same time acknowledged that they recognized themselves in the profiles. Lesson to be learned: do not silence people in the name of protection. People are willing to share their views, ideas and creativity when they are given the opportunity.