Creating positive outcomes for children facing conflict

An international project led by The University of Manchester explored young people’s experiences of conflict in their daily lives and the transformative impact of a sense of belonging.

Global problem: children in conflict with authority

The PROMISE research project led by Dr Jo Deakin, Dr Claire Fox, Professor Hilary Pilkington (article: Being and experiencing sociology with Hilary Pilkington and Dr Necla Acik, explored differences in youth attitudes and behaviour across ten countries in Europe.

The research had a particular focus on young people who are stigmatised or seen to be problematic to engage with. This often triggers negative responses from authority, which marginalises these children even more.

“Young people feel they need to belong in order to truly engage. Our research found that a key factor for transforming negative stigma into positive engagement was the feeling of belonging.”

Dr Jo Deakin / Senior Lecturer in Criminology and Criminal Justice

Summary of key findings

PROMISE found examples of innovative, imaginative and extraordinary youth involvement in societies throughout Europe:

  • Young people in Spain responded to the 2008 financial crash – and resulting property market collapse – by living communally, doing maintenance work in lieu of paying rent and even building their own homes.
  • LGBT youth in Russia facing state-led discrimination were motivated to develop activists’ associations and youth-led social initiatives to campaign for change.
  • In Italy, disadvantaged young street artists worked towards transforming their marginalisation into something positive for themselves and others facing similar challenges.

Manchester solution: a platform for collaboration and influencing policy

The PROMISE project has provided a platform for connections to develop between youth groups, academics, policymakers and practitioners in the EU, sparking a series of new research projects, advisory work and community activity.

The PROMISE team is working towards discrete contextual actions in each partner country that will feed into policy and practice. For instance, partners have provided policy briefs to local or national government and several are developing resources for teachers and youth workers based on their findings.

In Italy, Spain and Germany, youth activist groups have joined forces to share information, advice and support each other’s agendas. In Portugal, academics and young actors have created a video based on PROMISE findings, exploring experiences of and responses to the ‘at-risk’ label.

In Manchester, researchers are working with the local authority, practitioners and young people to develop the ‘Care Leavers’ Compass’ – a digital initiative to assist those on the cusp of leaving local authority care.

Find out more

Download a series of publications that explore individual themes that have the greatest impact on the lives of children throughout Europe: 

Research papers:

Meet the researchers: