Survey reveals vital youth work services face being left out in the cold this winter

Young people across Scotland are having to access vital youth work services under gazebos and tarpaulins, as our latest survey revealed a majority of organisations still remain unable to resume face-to-face indoor delivery due to a lack of appropriate facilities.

Despite Scottish Government guidance giving the green light to indoor service delivery from 31st August, over 50% of council services have not been able to resume, with this figure rising to over 80% for national voluntary organisations and local voluntary youth work projects.

The results paint a picture of youth work organisations up and down the country struggling to find appropriate indoor spaces due to confusion over lockdown restrictions. As it stands, three-quarters of youth work organisations still have no access to any school facilities, while around 95% remain locked out of local leisure centre facilities.

It’s clear that, although youth work organisations have the necessary risk assessments for practice in place, access to buildings and facilities is still being restricted or denied, with guidance often being interpreted differently in local areas.

The ongoing situation means that youth workers are having to deliver services in parks, school grounds, on the streets, using tents, gazebos and tarpaulins for shelter as it gets colder and the nights draw in.

YouthLink Scotland CEO Tim Frew commented on the results, warning that a lack of access to facilities threatens to leave young people in Scotland without vital support:

“We need to move forward and ensure that access to facilities for youth work increases. From our survey we can see that almost all youth organisations responsible for facilities have completed risk assessments. 

"Detailed guidance for school facilities and for outdoor centres has been developed. For centres where youth work is the tenant and not the landlord we need to understand what the barriers are to their re-opening.

"If the issue is guidance from the Scottish Government on the use of Community Centres, we know that this is in development and is needed urgently. If the issue is more about the cost then we need to ensure that extra funds are found, as we cannot allow for young people to be prevented from accessing youth work when they need it now more than ever.” 

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