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Durham University

Department of Sociology

Completed Projects

Lifemapping: trajectories of exclusion and young people's views on Identification, Referral and Tracking (IRT). Report to County Durham Identification Referral and Tracking Initiative.

A research project of the Department of Sociology.


Identification, Referral and Tracking (IRT) involves establishing a database of all young people aged 0-19. Data from a range of agencies will be fed in to allow agencies who become aware of a child at risk to share information at an early stage. It is essential that young people's perspectives are heard and included in the development of IRT.


This research was commissioned investigate the following questions during the piloting stage of IRT in the County:
1) What are the common trajectories into and out of social exclusion that young people experience over their lifecourses?
2) Which interventions and services have young people had contact with? How do they evaluate the effectiveness of these?
3) How do young people feel about IRT? What issues are there for them in the storing and sharing of information it entails?


Particpatory methods with a varied sample of young people in County Durham.


Pathways into and out of social exclusion
Despite the diversity of the situations which become labelled 'social exclusion' or 'children at risk', the research confirms that problems begin at very young age for many young people. Earlier intervention in many of the life stories recounted to this research would have had positive benefits.

Young people's views on interventions and services
Young people's views on professionals involved in their care was mixed, depending on 'who you got'. Young people are competent assessors of the quality of workers, and tend to remember positive or negative experiences, which can have a sizeable impact on them and their trajectories. A key point in positive evaluations of services was that they were young person-friendly, really seemed to be geared to helping, and that they listened to the young person. A serious concern is that where young people had requested a change to their key worker, none had been successful. These experiences seem to contradict the current imperative to listen to young people.

Young people's views on Information, Referral and Tracking (IRT)
Young people view IRT as a positive development on the whole, but are concerned about certain issues of consent and data security which need to be addressed as the system is developed.


From other departments