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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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Rotterdam: Afrikaanderwijk, Bloemhof and Hillesluis and Middelland (Suzanne Tan / Henk Spies)


Suzanne Tan and Henk Spies

Rotterdam: Afrikaanderwijk, Bloemhof and Hillesluis and Middelland

Abstract: This chapter shows the centralising and abolition of services, stricter eligibility criteria for young people and increasing symbolic distance. Yet awareness of the need for integrated local services has led to the creation of local multidisciplinary teams, especially for young people who fall out of sight or only have vulnerable support networks.

1. Introduction

This chapter focuses on social inequalities and social innovation in two deprived areas in the city of Rotterdam in a period of transition. Changes in policies resulted from economic developments and austerity measures, but also from autonomous, sometimes contradictory, developments. One of the challenges of bigger cities is to find the most adequate level for organising services. In Rotterdam, city districts were established in 2002 to bring policies and services closer to inhabitants. In practice, this concerned mostly policies on safety and social cohesion and support, including youth work. In 2014, these city districts were abolished again (from the national level, against the wishes of Rotterdam and Amsterdam, the only two cities having this extra layer of government). In addition, a process of centralising and partly abolishing municipal services had been initiated earlier, as a reaction to economic developments and austerity measures.

At the same time, there was also a growing awareness that effective support of vulnerable people demands integrated services and support at a neighbourhood level. In 2016, after the research on...

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