Young people are always the ones who have the best knowledge about their own life. Becoming independent does not occur automatically, life circumstances and situations are multiple. Each story about the act of becoming independent is unique to the individual. There are different kinds of differentiating elements: concrete acts, feelings, and ponderings. What is essential to understand is that becoming independent is much more than just having a flat or place to study.  It also represents new possibilities and a time in which it is allowed to dream.

Even if the baseline of becoming independent is positive, there is often also fear and uncertainty. All kinds of feelings are legitimate, but there is no need to stay alone with them. It is a good idea to bring them into discussion with a reliable adult like a youth worker. Taking young people positively lies at the core of youth work: the strengths of everyone are seen; uncertainties are accepted and the style of working is geared towards empowering young people. This means that youth work offers a discussion framework in which it is easy to talk also about themes related to independence, or any other theme that is current for a young person. For example, some young people miss opportunities to talk with someone about good life.

The material included here reflects the way in which youth work is realised. The aim is to keep young people as subjects of their life, not as objects of external action. Moreover, the focus is on the years of youth, which is understood to encompass much more than the journey from childhood to being an adult. As authors, we’ve tried to keep in mind that in youth vocabulary, money, for example, means other things than simply poverty – it also can signify investing. While playing video games isn’t only associated with the harms caused by gaming, but rather is a means to being social with peers. In youth work, the act of considering a young person from different points of view is factored in, while discussions arise for a variety of reasons, rather than exclusively being problem-based. 

These webpages include sources of information, examples of methods, as well as links providing further advice on current supporting services. The examples presented here were selected due to their prevalence across the country. Moreover, the content of this material is also assessed by the authors of this material to be useful for youth workers as background information before taking the position of being in a one-on-one discussion partner with a young person, or when “theme introduction” material is needed when youth workers lead individuals or groups, or for schools and education institutions, for their classes and teaching groups, when discussing the process of becoming independent. 

  • The material is collected and introduced by planning officer Reetta Möller from the Centre of Expertise for Municipal Youth Work Kanuuna (Cannon) together with senior researcher Anu Gretschel from the Youth Research Network. Cannon’s cooperation partners in general and especially those working at the Centre of Expertise Cannon have been very helpful in offering help in writing this material. The expertise of EHYT (Finnish Association for Substance Abuse Prevention), Mieli (Mental Health Finland) and Koordinaatti of the City of Oulu has been invaluable.
  • The “citations” used in the pages are from youth workers belonging to +16 years -network of Kanuuna. These are impressions by youth workers describing what kind of matters young people have pointed out when talking about becoming independent. The +16 years network of youth workers is one of the results of Kanuuna’s and the Humak University of Applied Sciences common project called Walkabout (2016-2018), which was financed by the Ministry of Education and Culture. The idea of the project was to raise levels of awareness and understanding about what youth work among the over 16 years old is, to create the relevant tools needed, and to establish concrete procedures for +16 work in real life. At that time, Kanuuna’s +16 network also took its place as a peer supported arena for youth workers who want to continue developing the content of youth work for that age group. At the municipal level, youth work targeted services ought to be those which mostly have connections to over 16 years old. Since its foundation, the + 16 network has been able to shed light on the issues that the services of open youth work for that age group are actually able to tackle. The discussion about ways in which one can proceed towards independent living — needed for young people — has also been recognised. These webpages offer support for youth workers for successful discussions on this topic.