Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ hopes to address some of the key issues youth workers are considering in relation to the return of face-to-face youth work delivery in the aftermath of Covid-19. If you have any further issues you would like raised, please contact

What should I know about changes to youth work delivery from 5 January 2021?

You can download the full guidance framework here.

Can I deliver detached youth work in above Level 4 areas?

No. Detached youth work is not currently considered an essential approach to delivery. This will be subject to regular review. Face-to-face delivery should only be considered for the following purposes:

1. Providing support to education hubs for the children of essential workers.

2. Providing support for most vulnerable young people who do not have other means of support and cannot access support remotely.

In circumstances where support to a vulnerable young person is required, this should be provided on a one-to-one basis with restriction measures in place.

Do these new changes from 5 January apply to Level 3 areas?

No. Local authorities remaining in Level 3 should continue to follow the current guidance for that level. Youth work organisations should continue to consult the latest Scottish Government information regarding protection levels for their local authority area

What defines a Youth Work Group/Activity? 

The Statement on the Nature and Purpose of Youth Work defines youth work as "an educational practice contributing to young people’s learning and development."

Youth work engages young people within their communities: it acknowledges the wider networks of peers, community and culture, it supports the young person to realise their potential and to address life’s challenges critically and creatively, and it takes account of all strands of diversity.

Youth Work has three essential and definitive features:

  1. Young people choose to participate
  2. The work must build from where young people are
  3. Youth Work recognises the young person and the youth worker as partners in a learning process

Youth work’s focus is on the 11-25 year age group with particular emphasis on 11-18 year olds. Youth work acknowledges that some provision focuses on children under 11 years e.g. in uniformed groups.

Because Youth work is considered to be an educational activity it is therefore subject to specific guidance to support safe delivery within schools, community centres, buildings and facilities, in line with the permitted purposes allowed in the Scottish Government Route Map.

From 31 August, the youth work sector has been able to begin a gradual, phased return to face-to-face youth work indoors. Specific youth work guidance was developed by YouthLink Scotland, Scottish Government and Public Health Scotland.

More detail on the role and function of youth work.


Which guidance should I follow?

All guidance is linked to the Scottish Government's route map out of lockdown.

Youth Work sector-specific guidance can be found below:

COVID-19: Guiding Framework to support the delivery of youth work services - Updated 5 January 2021.

See also general, non–sector specific guidance for activities for children and young people and for CLD, although this guidance should not be confused with sector-specific guidance for schools, social work, and youth work:

COVID-19: Organised activities for children​ - Updated 4 January 2021.

COVID-19: Community Learning and Development

“It will be up to each organisation or individual to assess whether this guidance applies to their activity and what additional guidance they may need to refer to, to ensure that activity is of sufficiently low risk to undertake at this time.  

Where an activity is classed as youthwork, other guidance has been developed”


Can I deliver youth work in schools?

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Guidance on reducing the risks in schools sets out the key public health measures that local authorities and schools will have in place to minimise the risks of Covid-19 transmission and infection. Movement between schools (e.g. of temporary/supply/peripatetic staff etc) should be kept to a minimum. Those providing essential services key to the delivery of children’s care or educational plans, for example youth workers, should be able to visit schools; however, appropriate mitigations to prevent transmission of the virus in and between settings should be undertaken. Mitigations should be determined via a risk assessment carried out by the school in co-operation with the service provider.

Youth workers who would normally work between more than one school should keep this to a minimum. You may wish to consider alternative approaches to delivery, including digital or outdoor settings.


What does a targeted approach to delivery in levels 3 and 4 mean?

Across Scottish Government Strategic Framework a range of enhanced measures have been implemented at level 3 and 4 to minimise the risks of COVID-19 transmission and infection. A targeted approach to youth work delivery in Level 3 or 4 restriction areas is part of these enhanced measures with a view to ensuring that youth work can remain open safely. Youth work organisations should make their own risk informed judgement regarding their approach to targeted delivery, determining how they can limit the risk of transmission by working with smaller groups and/or offering a blended approach where possible to ensure all young people receive the support they need,  while ensuring those young people who do need face to face support continue to receive that. 


Apart from a reduction in the numbers we can work with, is there anything else we need to do when delivering youth work in Level 4 areas?

The youth work guidance was updated on 2 November to reflect the Scottish Government Strategic Framework. This outlines that at Level 4 face-to-face delivery of youth work should involve an absolute maximum of 20 individuals at any one time. Face-to-face delivery should also be targeted for those who need it most. 

Scottish Government has put enhanced protective measures in place across areas where evidence suggests there may be higher potential risks. To protect our young people, families and practitioners youth work organisations across all levels should carefully assess the harms presented to learners and practitioners when deciding the scope and scale of face-to-face delivery, recognising that there may be negative impacts to some learners not having access to face-to-face youth work. 

To minimise risk of transmission in level 4 areas, where there may be higher potential risks to delivery, we would expect any face-to-face delivery of youth work provision to be targeted for those who need it most.  Face-to-face delivery should focus on working with smaller groups, or individuals, who need that continued face-to-face support. This can be delivered indoors or outdoors with the necessary public health measures in place. Youth work provision can also be delivered remotely or online, where appropriate and possible, for young people not able to access face-to-face delivery.

Additionally, youth work organisations may wish to consider where other relevant guidance and enhanced protection measures would further reduce risk to their young people and practitioners.

Given that the risks presented by the pandemic exist across all areas and at all levels, a cautious and risk informed approach should be adopted at all times when delivering face-to-face youth work.


Is our youth work group allowed to travel to neighbouring areas that might be in a different tier of restrictions from our own?

Scottish Government has confirmed that travel for educational purposes is allowed for all tiers within the new framework.

As an essential part of the education system in Scotland, travel to and from CLD activity is permitted to take place. Under the new Strategic Framework, organisations providing CLD activity (which includes youth work) are asked to limit travel between areas where possible. Organisations should develop a four-harms assessment when deciding whether travel has to take place as part of the learning activity.


What is a four-harms assessment?

Delivering services following a period of restriction will require organisations, local authorities, schools and colleges to consider the harms presented to learners at all tiers. See an outline of the harms to be considered when deciding to provide services below:

1. The virus causes direct and tragic harm to people's health.

2. The virus has a wider impact on our health and social care services in Scotland.

3. The restrictions which have been put in place affect our broader way of living and society.

4. The impact on our economy, with a damaging effect on poverty and inequality.

Recognising that there may be negative impacts to learners and others if access to education is limited, youth work providers should carefully consider the appropriate use of risk and equality impact assessments in deciding the scope and scale of face-to-face activity.

Further information on the 4 harms can be found on the Scottish Government website at


Can you give me more advice about supporting young people in the use of face coverings?

Youth work organisations should ensure that young people age 14 and over are aware of the requirement to wear a face covering in indoor areas. Organisations should help all young people them understand the importance of face coverings this in preventing infection transmission, and the recommendation that those under 14 also wear a face covering indoors when attending youth work activities. Scottish Government guidance regarding the public use of face coverings contains helpful information about how to wear and care for a face covering. Organisations may wish to have a small supply of disposable face coverings for young people who do not have one, to ensure that this does not exclude them from the youth work activity.

Some individuals are exempt from wearing face coverings. Further information can be found here, including how to apply for an exemption card. No one should have to prove they are exempt, but carrying an exemption card may help young people feel more confident about attending a youth work activity. Youth work organisations may wish to ensure young people are aware of how to apply for a card.


We deliver youth work in a premises not owned by our organisation. How can we provide assurances that the appropriate public health measures will be in place for the safe delivery of youth work?

We have produced this letter to support the safe delivery of youth work with in schools and community buildings, which outlines the primary public health measures that community spaces can expect when youth work activities are taking place.


What steps to I need to consider before commencing delivery of face to face youth work?

Before delivery you must be able to demonstrate:

  • Scottish Government scientific and medical advice deems it safe to proceed
  • Ability to comply with Scottish Government and Public Health Scotland guidance
  • Comprehensive risk assessment
  • Measures for infection prevention and control, including:
    - Enhanced cleaning arrangements
    - Adequate facilities, equipment and procedures for personal hygiene
    - Measures are in place to comply with physical distancing requirements
    - Ability to adhere to the Scottish Government Test and Protect Covid-19 guidance
    - Specific measures to protect those who are at higher risk from Covid-19
  • Clear communication processes - to ensure staff, volunteers, service users and parents understand the measures you have put in place to manage risk
  • Appropriate insurance cover
  • That these measures are monitored and reviewed regularly

If you cannot demonstrate you have these expectations in place, or feel your local situation cannot be managed in a safe way, you should not progress.


How many young people can be involved in an activity?

From 5 January, in mainland Scotland and Skye, face-to-face youth work should only be delivered through education hubs and on a one-to-one basis for the most vulnerable young people who cannot access support remotely.

A maximum of 30 individuals (children, young people and youth workers) in any youth work interaction, both indoors and outdoors in Levels 0-3 and 20 in Level 4. The general approach should be to minimise the size of groups where possible and to take a targeted approach to face-to-face delivery in Levels 3 and 4.


Is there a maximum number of households that can be involved in youth work activities?

The household restriction does not apply to any gatherings for the purposes of education, training or voluntary services.


Can I deliver physical activities, music or drama within my youth work setting?

Youth work organisations considering delivering physical activities, music or drama activities should consider the advice from the Advisory Sub-Group on Education and Children’s Issues, in particular the Advisory Note published on 10 September. A creative and incremental approach is recommended, including, where possible, continued use of outdoor spaces for physical activity. It is also recommended that activities which involve singing should be avoided. Education Scotland Physical Education guidance for schools may also be useful to youth work organisations.


Are young people and youth workers required to maintain physical distancing during activities?

Yes. Children aged 11 or under no longer need to physically distance. Young people aged 12+ must continue to physically distance. All youth work leaders must physically distance from all children and young people and from each other/other adults.


Can we provide children/young people with food and drinks?

Yes. Public health advice should be followed, including hand washing and cleaning of equipment and materials. Individuals should be encouraged not to share food.  Health Protection Scotland's guidance for non-healthcare settings and Scottish Government's school and childcare guidance may also be of use for issues like these.


Can I provide first aid to children and young people?

Yes, but robust infection control procedures should be in place and followed at all times. There is specific guidance for first responders (COVID-19: guidance for first responders) which sets out what you are required to do if you come into close contact with someone as part of your first responder duties. Scottish Government guidance should also be followed regarding infection control procedures, including the use of gloves and aprons, and where PPE is required.


Is there a limit to the number of face-to-face youth work sessions a youth worker can deliver per day? And would this affect the number of households they can meet in their personal time that day?

The household restriction does not apply to any gathering for the purposes of education, training or voluntary services, so you do not need to impose a daily limit on the number of one-to-one or group work sessions a member of staff/volunteer can deliver. These youth work interactions would not count towards the maximum number of households that your staff/volunteers and young people could meet out-with these planned youth work gatherings (i.e. in their own personal time).

However, organisations may wish to limit the number of daily face-to-face youth work interactions, to support the safety of their workforce and young people. We would recommend that, where possible, face-to-face youth work interactions should be limited to one per day, per youth worker.  If this is not possible, measures to avoid potential transmission between groups should be ensured (e.g. good personal hygiene and cleaning of any materials and ensuring physical distancing is maintained).


What procedures and measures for infection prevention and control are required?

The gradual and phased recommencement of face-to-face youth work activities will be dependent on procedures and measures being in place for infection prevention and control. This includes:

  • Enhanced cleaning arrangements
  • Guidance on, and provision of equipment, where appropriate, for respiratory hygiene, e.g. face coverings and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) where required
  • Guidance on and facilities to aid personal hygiene, including frequent hand-washing, or sanitising with alcohol gel
  • Measures such as a contact/group work log to support contact tracing in line with the Scottish Government Test and Protect Covid-19 guidance
  • Clear signage and communication for staff, volunteers and young people
  • Guidance for staff and volunteers about the procedure if someone becomes unwell on-site or one or more Covid-19 cases occur.

Indoor settings should also ensure adequate levels of ventilation. This might include having doors or windows open where possible.

Organisations should also follow Scottish Government guidance on the personal use of face coverings.


Are there household restrictions on the delivery of outdoor youth work for young people over 18 year of age?

No, it is recognised that youth work’s focus is on the 11-25 year age group. The household restriction does not apply to any gatherings for the purposes of education, training or voluntary services.


What does the youth work guidance say for working with a mix of age groups (e.g. under 11s, 12+ and young parents)?

There is nothing to say you cannot work with a mixed age group but organisations will have to ensure their approach to delivery ensures they can maintain the required physical distancing rules for each age group. They may wish to consider working with bubble groups based on age bands to manage the different physical distancing requirements.


Can we offer overnight residential opportunities for youth groups?

No overnight stays are permitted.


Can I facilitate face-to-face youth work activities for larger groups of young people (more than 30)?

A maximum of 30 individuals (children, young people and youth workers) in any youth work interaction, both indoors and outdoors in Levels 0-3 and 20 in Level 4. The general approach should be to minimise the size of groups where possible and to take a targeted approach to face-to-face delivery in Levels 3 and 4. From 5 January, areas in Above Level 4 protections should only be delivering face-to-face youth work in support of education hubs and on a one-to-one basis for the most vulnerable young people who cannot access support remotely.


Is there a recommended generic youth work template for doing risk assessments?

There is not a generic risk assessment template although your parent body may have resource available for you to use. YouthLink Scotland has collated some examples of risk assessment template which can be accessed here.


Do the current guidelines allow for transporting young people to an outing from various households in a car or mini-bus?

Careful consideration should also be given to Scottish Government guidelines on physical distancing and face coverings, where transport is necessary for participation. Any activities that require service users to travel with youth work staff or volunteers should be thoroughly risk assessed. This may include day trips and outings. Physical distancing restrictions must be maintained throughout the period of travel, alongside face coverings, and facilities/equipment for frequent hand washing. Organisations should also ensure that they (or the company responsible for the vehicle) have enhanced cleaning arrangements in place and that there is adequate ventilation within the vehicle. Any requirement for transport as part of a planned activity will have an impact when determining capacity.


Are there any special considerations for children age 5-16 with additional needs, in relation to meeting as part of a bigger group of young people? 

The specific needs of individual children and young people should be considered within risk assessment and in determining capacity. Where appropriate, an individual risk assessment should be undertaken. Children and young people with complex additional support needs arising from health factors will require appropriate arrangements to protect their health and wellbeing, including social distancing. Further information guidance on appropriate arrangements is available within the non-healthcare settings guidance


Are there any examples of good practice of how to engage with young people prior to opening the centre?

Some youth centres are using detached work to engage with young people on the streets, prior to re-opening the centre. Digital youth work, including using social media, can also be a good approach to communicating your renewal plans, including the measures you are putting in place to keep everyone safe.


Can we deliver sport and physical activities with young people?

Youth work organisations considering organised sports should consult the Local Protection Areas guidance regarding what is possible in their area, noting the differential arrangements for those over 18. They should also refer to Sports Scotland guidance on sport and physical activity.

Indoor sport (contact and non-contact) and physical activity is allowed for those under 18 at levels 0 – 3. For those 18+ it is allowed at levels 0, non-contact at levels 1 & 2 and individual exercise only at level 3. No indoor sport is allowed at level 4 for all ages.

As with other youth work activities, approaches to sport and physical activity should be carefully risk assessed to ensure the safety and wellbeing of young people and adult leaders and minimise the risk of transmission where possible.


What do the guidelines say about the sharing of equipment both sporting, stationery and games - e.g. balls, pens, game pieces and cards….. for both under 12s and over 12s?

Sharing of equipment should be avoided where possible. Where shared equipment is necessary for a youth work activity appropriate hygiene measures must be put in place to ensure the equipment is thoroughly cleaned before, during and after use (including between groups) using standard detergent and disinfectant that are active against viruses and bacteria. This includes balls and sports equipment. When undertaking sport activities with balls, measures to minimise uncovered body contact should also be in place. SportScotland's guidance on this issue may also be helpful to consider. Children and young people should be encouraged not to touch their face.

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