"Generalist" Youth Information
Since "youth information" is a term which can describe a range of different activities undertaken by a wide variety of "information actors", it is perhaps useful to outline the specific character of "generalist" youth information. This is the approach adopted by ERYICA partners, one which has been tried and tested since the late 1960s in a number of countries, and which is today used in more than 30 European countries.
Essentially, it is a user-centred approach. That is to say that the youth information centre (or service) adopts as its starting-point the questions and needs of the young people who are its users. As these cover a wide range of issues and problems, the centre (service) is organised either to respond directly to a large number of topics (hence the term "generalist", as opposed to other specialised information services on careers, health, Europe, etc. - see "Specialised information services"), or to refer the user to an organisation or service which is competent in the desired area.
The centre may provide other services which are complementary to its basic information and counselling role, such as youth discount cards, tickets for concerts and transport services, cheap accommodation, rooms or equipment for youth activities, and help in organising youth projects. It may also make available information and information materials from a wide range of sources (official administrations, associations, commercial services) which promote activities and opportunities aimed at young people. But in its contact with each individual user, the primary concern of the centre (or service) is to respond to the question or need raised by the user, irrespective of any other external interest. It seeks to do this in a way which enables the user to have a maximum of choice, and which respects her / his autonomy and anonymity.
Therefore, "generalist" youth information and counselling centres (and services) have the following characteristics, which are based on the European Youth Information Charter or on a national set of standards or national Charter where these exist:
- they are specifically designed to respond to the needs of young people;
- they are open to all young people without exception, without an appointment;
- they provide information on a wide range of subjects, in a variety of forms, prepared both for young people in general and for groups of young people with special needs;
- the information that they provide is practical, pluralistic, accurate and regularly updated;
- they operate in a way which personalises the reception of each user, respects confidences and anonymity, provides a maximum of choice and promotes her / his autonomy;
- when necessary, they refer the user to a specialised service.