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Including youth voices in policy-making, and improving their access to community and culture, will promote social cohesion and political engagement among young people, and allow them to see a future in Nordic rural areas. It is therefore crucial to support youth councils, meeting spaces, and social engagement initiatives, and ensure that these are accessible and welcoming to everyone in the community. This will also improve social well-being and encourage more young people to stay in or move to Nordic rural areas.
We recommend: 
  • Listening to youth voices and give young people a platform by supporting and elevating the role of youth councils in municipalities and at different policy levels. Youth involvement in councils and panels should be compensated to encourage and recognise young people’s input to public policy. Youth council recommendations must be taken into consideration and incorporated into policy-making. 
  • Providing or improving existing public meeting spaces that are neutral (not connected to religion, alcohol, etc.) and accessible, such as libraries and swimming pools. Physical social spaces promote increased social cohesion and inclusion, while reducing loneliness and inviting younger and older generations to engage in dialogue about local issues. 
  • Funding and supporting social and intergenerational engagement initiatives, such as markets and community festivals. These events will create arenas in which young people in rural areas can connect with each other and expand their social groups, which will boost the local culture. Social engagement initiatives and events will also make rural areas more attractive places to live in and move to.
  • Communicating policies and important practical information in an accessible way by recognising the municipality’s multicultural aspects. This entails providing information in several languages, using accessible and direct terms, so that it can be understood by everyone in the community.
  • Supporting social groups that welcome different languages and cultures, in order to encourage young people who have moved to rural areas to engage with the community. These groups should be multilingual. Similar groups can also help non-native speakers practise the local language and learn about local culture, to encourage social cohesion and combat loneliness.

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