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Local Matters

How neighbourhoods and services affect the social inclusion and exclusion of young people in European cities

Edited By Simon Güntner, Louis Henri Seukwa, Anne Marie Gehrke and Jill Robinson

Where young people grow up makes a decisive difference to their life chances. Drawing on case studies from ten European cities, this book looks at how the local environment and the services available for young people affect their socialization. What comes to the fore are the local matters. On the one hand, there are experiences of discrimination and marginalization due to distance and isolation, decay and neglect but also related to piecemeal and top-down approaches to youth and social services. On the other, we find signs of positive transformation and drivers of social innovation: community building projects, the revitalization of abandoned places, appreciative approaches to servicing and a whole array of tactics that young people deploy to overcome their daily struggles.

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Birmingham: Lozells and East Handsworth and Bordesley Green (Ajmal Hussain / Helen Higson / Jill Robinson)

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Ajmal Hussain, Helen Higson & Jill Robinson

Birmingham: Lozells and East Handsworth and Bordesley Green

Abstract: In the super-diverse city of Birmingham, responsibilities previously transferred to local areas were reduced or re-centralised as following major cuts in national funding to the city council. This has led to a changed terrain of policy and funding schemes, where people draw on very local forms of support to counteract “centralised priorities”.

1. Introduction

Birmingham is the largest city in the UK outside London with a population of over one million. Under 25s account for nearly 40% of this population with 16% aged between 15 and 24 according to the National Census 2011 (ONS 2013). It is also recognised as a ‘super diverse’ city with newly arrived migrants (often in small groups or as individuals) from many different parts of the world joining long-established minority ethnic communities living mainly in areas surrounding the city centre. In spite of being so close to a thriving major business and retail centre, however, these neighbourhoods have some of the highest levels of deprivation in the country1.

Since the early 1990s, different City administrations have pursued a number of policies aimed at devolving the delivery of certain services and decision-making powers to the neighbourhood level to address local needs. These have reflected concerns that the city and the City Council are too large to be managed as a single entity and in 2012 the incoming Labour administration sought...

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