The Netherlands Helsinki Committee (NHC), in cooperation with Young in Prison (YiP), the Dutch Custodial Institutions Agency and Educational Institute of the Dutch Custodial Institutions Agency, have recently started the EU funded Giving Back project, which aims to increase child-friendly treatment of young people in closed institutions by working towards a fixed, compulsory and relevant position of young people with lived experience in the training of professionals working in closed youth institutions. Participation of children and young people in the juvenile justice sector is one of the key values of the Council of Europe’s (CoE) Guidelines on Child-friendly justice. However, participation of children and young people doesn’t come naturally in closed institutions. In the Netherlands, experience has been gathered with a new approach on participation of youngsters in the training of justice professionals, called Youthlab. This approach, developed by Young in Prison (YiP), engages youngsters that have experience with being deprived of their liberty to train justice professionals like prosecutors, lawyers specialised in assisting youth and probation officers and professionals working inside youth prisons. The Giving Back project wants to further secure, structurally embed and scale this method in the Netherlands, while at the same time, it seeks to introduce and further develop the method in other European countries. Moreover, it also seeks to fill in recognition for the importance of participation of youngsters with a shareable best practice.
The first objective of the Giving Back project is to have an increased understanding of promising and proven practices in Europe of youth-participation-based training methods on child-friendly communication skills for professionals working inside youth prisons. Therefore, the NHC and YiP are currently looking for European initiatives that could share their knowledge on existing practices. If you want to get in contact concerning the project, please email NHC at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Fédi Hoff (Netherlands Helsinki Committee)