YouthLink Scotland and COSLA have released a joint statement today, reiterating their continued commitment to ensuring the safe reopening of indoor facilities for the delivery of youth work services.

In recent weeks, YouthLink Scotland has met with representatives of COSLA, Scottish Government, CLDMS, ADES, and other partners to consider what remaining barriers there are to indoor delivery and how these might be overcome.

The joint statement reads:

COSLA and YouthLink Scotland, the national agency for youth work, are fully committed to ensuring the safe return of youth work, including safe access to facilities.

Local authorities across Scotland continue to face significant challenges as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. We acknowledge the ongoing work that is being undertaken to resume vital services. This includes the collaborative efforts, with third sector partners, to reopen facilities for youth work.

We do not underestimate the physical and mental health impacts which children and young people have experienced throughout the pandemic, and that these impacts have fallen unequally across society. This is why we have committed to the safe return of youth work services as part of Scotland’s transition out of lockdown to help address the impacts associated with extended periods of isolation and reduced participation in normal activities.

There has been a breadth of evidence gathered during this pandemic, including young people’s views through the Lockdown Lowdown survey, the Equity Audit and YouthLink Scotland’s reports on the youth work sector. We know from listening to young people and from collating evidence across the pandemic, that providing safe spaces for young people to engage with their peers and youth workers, receive support and rebuild important relationships, is crucial to mitigating the impact of the pandemic on our young people’s mental health, wellbeing and learning.

Scottish Government guidance highlighted the vital role CLD, and youth work plays in education. YouthLink Scotland’s Access to Facilities Report (June 2021) identified that there are still considerable barriers to overcome. However, we have seen many positive examples of local authorities and their partners working collaboratively to reopen spaces for youth work for all young people. We know that through continued local authority leadership and focused collective action we will see continued reopening of spaces for youth work.

To ensure young people have access to the support they need, it is essential that safe spaces for youth work are available, now that youth work can fully open again. We know that youth work is key to reaching and engaging young people, to provide mental health support, signpost to other services, tackle isolation and help young people re-engage in learning.

Please get in touch with COSLA or YouthLink Scotland if there is any additional support we can provide in what will continue to be challenging circumstances.

For more information contact Sarah Paterson, Communications and Public Affairs Manager, YouthLink Scotland spaterson@youthlinksc