Perfect storm coming for youth work sector, report warns

A YouthLink Scotland survey found organisations are facing an income loss of at least £20.5m.

Perfect storm coming for youth work sector, report warns Pixabay

The youth work sector is facing a “perfect storm” of a mental health crisis coupled with further cuts to services following the coronavirus pandemic, a new report warns.

Organisations are facing an income loss of at least £20.5m this year, a new survey of sector leaders by YouthLink Scotland has found.

Some 70% of the sector believes there will also be significant cuts to youth work budgets and services after the Covid-19 outbreak.

It comes as youth organisations are bracing themselves for an impending youth mental health crisis as a result of months of isolation.

The sector is calling on politicians to ensure significant investment to support young people as the country deals with the crisis and warned that further cuts would put Scotland’s recovery from Covid-19 in jeopardy.

YouthLink Scotland said although the sector has welcomed the £350m made available to councils and the third sector to deal with the emergency response, a majority of national youth work organisations have been unable to access these funds and now face an uncertain future.

Tim Frew, chief executive of YouthLink Scotland, the national agency for youth work, said: “The detrimental effects of this pandemic on young people come at a time when budgets for youth work services have already been reducing overall every year.

“We are asking politicians and society to stand with us during this unprecedented period in our nation’s history, to support the youth work sector, many of whom are on the frontline delivering food and caring for some of the most vulnerable in our society.”

The sector includes organisations such as Scouts Scotland, The Prince’s Trust, Girlguiding Scotland, LGBT Youth Scotland, The Boys’ Brigade Scotland and YMCA Scotland.

The survey found two in three youth work leaders believe lockdown will have a detrimental impact on young people’s mental health.

The report warns the sector is facing “a perfect storm of a youth mental health crisis coupled with further cuts to services and centres closed”.

In a separate report called Lockdown Lowdown, produced in partnership with Young Scot and the Scottish Youth Parliament, almost two-fifths (39%) of young people said they felt moderately or extremely concerned about their own mental well-being.

Kerry Reilly, chief executive of YMCA Scotland, said: “Young people need the vital support of youth workers, especially in these uncertain and worrying times, but they also need to know that we will be there for them when we come out of lockdown.

“The youth work sector will be an essential partner as we seek to recover from the economic and societal fallout of Covid-19, and any prospect of further cuts to youth work funding would have a direct impact on young people and their mental health.

“It is crucial that our sector, key to that recovery, has the proper funding in place to support all of our young people.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “While everyone is experiencing different challenges at this time, the mental health of children, young people and families can be put under great strain and we also recognise the valuable role that the youth work sector has to play in supporting the health and well-being of young people in Scotland.

“We are investing £1m in additional support for mental health and well-being, including funding to Young Scot to develop digital resources and to The Spark to provide a Relationship Helpline.

“The Parent Club Scotland website also continues to be updated with a range of advice and support to support parents and families.”


STV News is now on WhatsApp

Get all the latest news from around the country

Follow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp

Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country

WhatsApp channel QR Code