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 under Covid-19 restrictions. If you have any further issues you would like raised, please contact

What should I know about changes to youth work delivery from 26 April 2021?

You can download the full guidance framework for the delivery of youth work


Can I deliver detached youth work? 

Yes, detached youth work can be delivered in response to local need. Detached youth work can also be a useful approach to engaging with young people around the risks of COVID-19.


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.

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 26 April 2021.

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?

Youth work taking place in partnership with schools is permitted to take place and should be delivered in line with Scottish Government Coronavirus (COVID-19): Guidance on schools reopening and in agreement with schools and local authorities.

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.


Is our youth work group allowed to travel to a neighbouring local authority area?

As an essential part of the education system in Scotland, travel to and from youth work activity is permitted to take place. Although individual travel is now permitted across Scotland, organisations providing youth work activity are asked to limit travel as far as possible while providing services.


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 12 and over (or who are in S1) are aware of the requirement to wear a face covering in indoor areas. Organisations should help all young people understand the importance of face coverings this in preventing infection transmission, and the recommendation that those under 12 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?

There are now different restrictions for youth work activities with under 18s and those aged 18 and over. With all of Scotland currently in Level 3 protections, the maximum number for under 18s is 30 (indoors and outdoors). For those aged 18 and over the maximum number is 15 outdoors and 5 indoors. These numbers are all inclusive of youth workers.


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 precautionary approach is still recommended, including, where possible, continued use of outdoor spaces for physical activity and activities which involve singing or playing instruments. Scottish Government guidance for schools and performing arts may also be useful to youth work organisations.

In relation to the playing of musical instruments, the following mitigations are advised:

  • Avoid sharing of equipment, or ensure thorough cleaning between uses (including hand washing).
  • Deliver outdoors wherever possible, with 2m physical distancing.
  • Use of back-to-back or side-to-side positioning (rather than face-to-face) wherever possible.
  • Limit the duration of rehearsals, and performances, as far as possible.


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 those aged 18 and over)?

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 maximum numbers and physical distancing rules for each age group. They may wish to consider working with bubble groups based on age bands to manage the different requirements.


Can we offer overnight residential opportunities for youth groups?

Planning for residential youth work activity, where the overnight experience is integral to the learning experience, can resume. Delivery should be delayed in line with the phased approach and timescales outlined in the updated youth work guidance. All dates and timings set out are indicative and will only be confirmed following a further review of data in the week commencing 3 May 2021. The commencement of residential youth work activity is also subject to additional mitigating actions set out in the guidance document.


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?

From 10 May, travel as part of a youth work activity can recommence subject to a further Scottish Government review of Covid-19 related data in the week commencing 3 May 2021 and the conditions set out in the youth work guidance.


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?

Yes. Physical activity, non-contact outdoor sports and organised group exercise are permitted.

Youth work organisations may wish to refer to Sports Scotland guidance. 

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.


If we’re delivering youth work outdoors, can young people enter a building to use the toilet facilities?

Young people should not be encouraged to enter a building for any purpose, except in an emergency situation e.g. if someone needs emergency first aid. You may wish to keep sessions short, and consider local settings, to reduce the need for young people to use toilet facilities and ensure clear communication to young people/parents prior to arrival. There may be situations where you feel a young person’s rights would be infringed by refusing access to toilet facilities. In these cases, you should ensure that measures to comply with public health advice and Scottish Government guidance are followed, including physical distancing and personal hygiene.

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