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Training for Young, Wild and Free

In March, a kick-off training for the Young, Wild and Free program took place in Amsterdam. This project is a spin-off of the BRIDGING THE GAPS: HEALTH & RIGHTS FOR KEY POPULATIONS program, aimed at sharing and scaling the best practices in reaching youth within the Bridging the Gaps and optimizing services for and engagement of young people in all elements of work. The program involves young community researchers from Russia, Vietnam, Kenya and South-Africa, representing young key populations.

Bridging the Gaps

Bridging the Gaps works towards a world where sex workers, people who use drugs and msm can use their human rights and access quality HIV prevention, treatment and care. Young key populations are always a special subject. They have different needs and requirements for (health) services, especially because each country has different laws, regulations and social norms which keeps them from accessing services. Also, limited data is available on young key populations as they are underrepresented in bio-behaviour studies. In order to increase both demand for and uptake of SRHR/HIV services by young key populations, the Young, Wild and Free program has been set up.

Young, Wild and Free

The goal of the Young, Wild and Free program is to identify the needs and demands for HIV/SRHR related services for young key populations in the four countries: Russia, Vietnam, Kenya and South-Africa, and use best practices of the Bridging the Gaps as pilots to serve these needs. The barriers and enabling factors in accessing these services for young key populations will be investigated by the young community researchers. Each country involved three young community researchers and one research coordinator.

The 2.5 day training

The kick-off meeting and training took place in Amsterdam where all researchers from the four countries could meet each other for the first time. It’s necessary to say that each researcher has strong connections with young key populations. All these people work each day in their country to fight stigma and discrimination against young key populations and want to contribute to better access to (SRHR and HIV) services for young key populations.

The goal of the 2.5 days training was to increase the participants’ research skills and was organized and given by the staff from Mainline Foundation.

Participants learned more about how to conceptualise youth & youth friendly services and how to conduct qualitative research, about research ethics and how to conduct an interview on sensitive and tabooed topics, how to organize group discussions.The training gave a great chance to people from various cultures connecting and engaging with each other.

AFEW’s role

The role of AFEW International during the kick-off training was supporting the young community researchers with feedback on how to do qualitative research. AFEW International is also the point of contact for the research coordinator from Russia. AFEW International will organise monthly progress meetings with the research team to discuss the progress, challenges and other issues related to the assessment. Also, input and feedback on the draft report from the research coordinator with regards to the quality will be provided.

Looking forward

After the workshop, the young community researchers will finalize their research protocol and start with data collection within their countries. Each country has to do at least ten interviews and one focus group discussion with each of the three key populations. The final report is due June 30th 2020 and will contribute to the body of knowledge on how to best reach and engage young key population members and to design culturally and age-appropriate (SRHR and HIV) services.

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