Access to Facilities Report June 2021

On Thursday 24 June 2021 Scotland’s National Youth Work Agency, YouthLink Scotland released the latest survey of the youth work sector and access to facilities.

The responses suggest that youth workers are still struggling to access indoor spaces where they can deliver face-to-face youth work, and that access issues are as challenging now as they w ere in October2020. You can read the full report here.

Commenting on the publication of the report, Tim Frew, CEO of YouthLink Scotland said:

“The issue of facilities access is going to be felt most keenly as we move from summer to autumn, as it may preclude or severely limit youth work services running at all. The messages from the sector around variability of access to premises are stark, and a concerted effort is needed to support a safe return to more facilities as soon as possible.”

“This is likely to impact on both national and local government ambitions as we go forward, there is no doubt that, unless resolved, it will further impact on youth mental health, learning loss, isolation and employment prospects.”

These are some of the headlines from our report.

Access to facilities

Only 22% of youth work organisations and services across Scotland have full access to facilities. This is despite Scottish Government guidance enabling indoor face-to-face youth work to resume.

In general, Local Authority Youth Work Services have better access than Third Sector Youth Work Organisations:

  • 88% of those who want access to leisure centres have no access, but this decreases to 40% for Local Authority Youth Services, whilst 94% of Third Sector Organisations have no access
  • 83% of those who need access to local authority lets have no access, but this decreases to 50% for Local Authority Youth Work Services, whilst 90% of Third Sector Organisations have no access.
  • 76% of those who want access to schools have no access, but this decreases to 30% when looking at LA Youth Work Services whilst 84% of all Third Sector Organisations have no access.

Access to Faith-Based Centres (e.g church halls) is more limited than our survey last year suggested, this has a particular impact on organisations like Girlguiding and Scouts.

  • 74% of those who want access to Faith-Based Centres have no access currently – this compares unfavourably even with October 2020 when 63% had no access.

Impacts on Young People

61% report a drop in youth participation and significant direct detrimental impacts on young people:

  • 52% say young people have lost access to key trusted relationships with youth workers and peers
  • 42% say young people’s progress with learning and development has stalled
  • 41% say young people have missed out on much needed support in relation to mental health and wellbeing

Impacts on organisations with longer-term consequences for young people

As time passes, and challenges around delivery continue to hamper staff and volunteers, respondents are seeing wider organisational impacts that have the potential to damage service provision for young people in the future:

  • 46% of respondents are seeing a drop off in membership
  • 29% are seeing a drop off in volunteers
  • 23% are seeing an impact on morale due to a feeling that service not properly understood or valued (this rises to 59% in Local Authority Youth Work respondents)

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