Table of Contents

  • Young people in the Nordic region generally have good living conditions. However, at the same time the Nordic countries share some challenges, we have groups of youth that feel they do not belong in the community, feel that they are not listened to and are not taken seriously when participating. We also know that there is a geographical factor. The place where young people live and grow up affects their opportunities. Regardless if they grow up in a city, a disadvantaged neighbourhood, a rural village or a sparsely populated area, these preconditions differ, and it is important to emphasize. Youths are heterogenous groups with different needs. We have groups of youth that we know need more support and efforts, for example individuals in risk of becoming NEETs (Not in Employment, Education or Training), at risk of suffering from mental illness, immigrants and youth with disabilities.

  • Swedish

    This report summarizes the findings from six focus groups interviews with youths in Iceland on the topic of social inclusion. The interviews took place from September 2018 until end of January 2019. The report is part of the project Nabo – social Inclusion of youth in the Nordic Region, run by The Swedish Agency for Youth and Civil Society that takes place in the Nordic countries including the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland. The aim is to gain knowledge on how young people experience social inclusion and possibilities for social and political participation.

  • This report summarizes the findings from six focus groups interviews consisting of 38 individuals in Iceland that took place from September 2018 until end of January 2019. The focus groups are part of the project Nabo – social Inclusion of youth in the Nordic Region, in collaboration with The Swedish Agency for Youth and Civil Society that takes place in the Nordic countries including the Faraoe Islands, Greenland and Åland. The aim is to gain knowledge on how young people experience social inclusion and possibilities for social and political participation. In these interviews, groups of four to eight people from 18–24 years old, were asked to discuss their experience of their social inclusion and belonging in the Icelandic community.

  • Most participants were students and commonly had a part-time job alongside their studies. Some were full-time students, less commonly full-time employees. A few were unemployed, single parents and some enrolled in a vocational rehabilitation programme. When asked about their leisure time they named sports, computers, TV, drawing, writing, music, riding horses and spending time with family, friends and partners. Some of them had more specific interests, for example being a member of the Christian Association of Youth, a leader on the directorial board of NQOI and one was starting a new business making prosciutto. Many participants talked about having little leisure time: “What is leisure time?” said a single mother.

  • Most participants who lived at home felt they could influence decisions there. They said they had a good relationship with their families, and that their opinion mattered: “We just painted our house and we all got to decide on the colour, and then we got a new sofa and we all had to agree on which one to get before it was bought.” Many talked about having a lot of support from their families, although there are regulations they have to follow if they live at home and some have family meetings where important decisions are discussed with the whole family. The family of one participant in the Reykjanesbær-group runs a business and she is obliged to work for the family business, there is no choice of opting out. Another participant said she persuaded her parents to take on an exchange student, even though the parents were hesitant, and that made her the feel she had a strong voice in her home. The parents of many participants have encouraged them to acquire an education, especially if the parents are educated themselves:

  • Most participants knew people in their neighbourhoods, except those that had recently moved to a new location. Most of them also knew people outside their neighbourhoods. Iceland has a small population and people tend to have family members and friends in different places in Iceland: “I have a family in almost every town in Iceland.” Some get to know people in the schools they attend, through programmes they participate in, in different social groups like mom-groups and in connection with shared hobbies. Sometimes it is hard to make friends or keep friendships going. One of the students in the FB-group said that because she is a little older than the average student it is hard to make friends and others who had friends far away complained about not seeing them often: “There is no time for that.” A participant in the Reykjanesbær-group said her best friends are in Reykjavík: “I feel a little lonely here sometimes” and added that it might be due to the fact that she was an addict in Reykjanesbær.

  • Most participants had experienced some kind of prejudice and unfair treatment in their lives, although this differed significantly between individuals, often related to their age, origin, sexual orientation, gender identity and socio-economic status. The LGBTQ-group discussed issues of intersex and said they often feel obliged to educate others, even though they don ot always want to take on that role. Some of them are trans, and they have experienced much unfair treatment concerning seemingly basic things for non-trans people, such as going to the swimming pool. They are not able to choose which locker room to use, even though the pools are supposedly trans-friendly. Therefore, trans people often need to use a private cabin.

  • Generally, the participants felt like they belonged to the neighbourhood/area where they grew up, but not as much to the new neighbourhood/area if they had moved. In the Reykjanesbær-group, the two women raised in Reykjanesbær felt like belonging there and calling it their home: “It’s so nice to live in a town of 3,000 people. Really nice.” They talked about their experiences of Reykjavík being a big city and feeling lost there.

  • Across groups, participants talked about preventive measures in order to change things that negatively affect young peoples’ lives in Iceland today. They wanted more education on alcoholism, depression, anxiety and computer-game addictions, to name but a few. Young people dealing with these problems are often marginalized but want to be included. Some mentioned that people with difficult experiences dealing with these problems should come to schools and share their stories, as a preventive measure:

  • In this report, we have summarized the findings of six focus-group interviews with participants from different places in Iceland and diverse neighbourhoods in Reykjavík. All participants were 18–24 years old, with different social backgrounds, ethnicities, sexual orientation and gender identities.