Lack of facilities ‘damaging young people’s mental health’

A survey found just 22% of youth organisations had full access to necessary facilities.

Lack of facilities ‘damaging young people’s mental health’ iStock
Warning: Lack of available facilities 'could impact young people's mental health'.

The lack of access to venues and facilities in Scotland could risk doing further damage to the mental health and employment prospects of young people, a charity has warned.

A survey of 220 youth organisations and local authorities by YouthLink Scotland found just 22% have had full access to the necessary facilities, despite the latest government guidance allowing indoor and face-to-face youth work to resume.

The poll also found that 88% of youth groups wanting to access leisure centres are unable to do so, including 94% of third sector organisations.

Access to faith-based centres such as church halls has decreased since last year, according to last year’s survey by the charity, up from 63% who had no access to 74%.

More than half (61%) of organisations reported a drop in youth participation, with 52% stating young people have lost access to key trusted relationships with youth workers and peers.

The findings also show 42% believe progress with learning and development has stalled and a further 41% saying young people have missed out on mental health and wellbeing support.

There has also been a significant impact on organisations, with 46% recording a fall in membership and more than a quarter (29%) suffering a drop in volunteers.

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.”