A Youth Friendly Space (YFS) mobilises communities to provide safe spaces for older children (age 10-18), with programming which could include education activities, life skills training, psychosocial support and referral to other services.
To read about a YFS in action, click the picture below:
When should we use a Youth Friendly Space (YFS)?
Youth friendly spaces can be used in any emergency context, particularly where young people face significant protection risks and are not being reached by other programmes which may focus on younger children. YFS can also be important when young people are temporarily unable to access formal education. YFS are most effective as a short-medium term response, often started in the early stages of an emergency.
Resources needed to implement a YFS
- Volunteers willing to work with young people on a regular basis
- Safe space (an existing building or a tent) which can be used regularly for the YFS
- Programme materials – e.g. sports equipment, computers, music equipment
- Funding for refreshments/snacks
How to set up a YFS
- The YFS should be set up based on information found in your needs assessment and developed in partnership with young people themselves, who can help to design the space and to suggest activities they would like to participate in
- Ensure that you have enough staff and volunteers for the number of young people who will attend:
- Age 10-12: 25 children to two adult caregivers
- Age 13-18: 30 children to two adult caregivers
- Develop the YFS schedule and activity plan – the YFS can include unscheduled time for youth to be able to simply spend time together in the YFS, but can also include structured activities such as:
- literacy courses and life skills workshops about cooperation, communication and conflict resolution
- community projects (e.g. clean up campaigns)
- developing and performing dramas for the community on issues that are relevant to them
- catch-up education, basic literacy and numeracy education, or after-school or homework support
- sports and games
- vocational training
- Discussion of issues with other youth is a valuable activity that can help them cope with current challenges in their lives
- Ensure there is a wide range of relevant facilities and activities and roles and responsibilities for young people. They can also be included in supporting and mentoring younger children, for example starting activities such as coaching sports or helping with painting, song and dance
It is important for YFS to ensure that they identify and include the most vulnerable young people, taking stock of those who are not accessing the YFS and taking steps to include them. Activities should be adapted for young people with disabilities where possible.
Everyone who works in a YFS should receive initial training, as part of an ongoing process to build capacity that includes training as well as coaching. Training should include child protection.
Monitoring and evaluation
- number of YFS established/operating
- number of young people attending
- number of facilitators trained
Outputs can be measured by e.g. attendance and registration sheets, activity schedules, training evaluations
- Quality of activities and programme
- Changes or effects on skills, knowledge, emotional, social or protective wellbeing
Outcomes can be measured by comparing baseline surveys of e.g. protection and psychosocial wellbeing, or community attitudes with later repeated surveys, and through ongoing community participation in monitoring and evaluation.
Additional tools and guidelines
Practically, setting up a YFS is similar to a child friendly space.
There are several existing life skills or psychosocial support programmes designed specifically to be used with children and young people in emergencies:
Girl Hub (2014), Girl Safety Toolkit: A resource for practitioners
IFRC and Save the Children Denmark, The Children’s Resilience Programme: Psychosocial support in and out of school
A list of further tools and resources on setting up and running a youth friendly space (including ideas for activties and life skills sessions) can be found here