In the late 1980s the term NEET – not in employment, education or training – appeared in policy documents in the UK to refer to young people who are regarded as marginalised and (potentially) economically vulnerable. NEET has become a popular shorthand term to refer to marginalised young people even though the term may not be as clear-cut as it may appear at first, especially in countries in the Global South with high levels of inequality and unemployment. This qualitative study is based on 24 individual interviews and three focus groups with young people based in the central parts of Pretoria, the administrative capital of South Africa. This study is part of a larger research project where similar research was done in six other areas, namely Franschhoek (Western Cape, South Africa), Emakhazeni (Mpumalanga, South Africa), Riverlea (Gauteng, South Africa), Oslo (Norway) and Lammi (Finland). The aim of the study was to gain a better understanding of the role of Faith-based Organisations (FBOs) in the lives of young people. In the studies in South Africa the high unemployment figures and the inability of the state to meet the basic needs of its citizens are important factors in understanding the role of FBOs. Employing purposive sampling, we included participants with regular and strong ties with FBOs as well as others who may only make use of certain services provided by FBOs. Some of the large FBOs offer food, ablution facilities to homeless people, temporary shelters and even permanent housing. Religious services, social gatherings and other related activities performed at FBOs also form an important part in the lives of some of the participants. Many of the participants have risky lifestyles and they endure economic hardships and for some of them, FBOs become an important lifeline but these organisations are unable to challenge the structural exclusions many of the participants face.
Acknowledgement to co-authors: Ignatius Swart and Stephan de Beer