Policy Convention

Youth work in Scotland needs a movement. Our Policy Convention is leading the charge as we call for a #RightToYouthWork.

Close up shot of a facade of the scottish parliament building

The Journey to a National Policy Convention

Led by the Policy Planning Group, the first Policy Seminar in 2018 took place in Glasgow and focused attention towards adverse childhood experiences and the development of resilience within the context of youth work relationships and practice. The second occurred in Edinburgh and drew attention towards digital youth work and cyber resilience. 

In 2019 the focus was Incorporation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) into Scots Law and Youth Work, reflecting on the principles of the UNCRC and the role of youth work and any potential impacts as we move towards incorporation. This was followed in the same year by a seminar on Youth Work’s Role in the Youth Justice System. This explored youth work’s role in prevention, care, recovery and support for young people in the youth justice system. 

A series of three Policy Seminars on Climate Action took place over the summer of 2020 on the topic of climate action. On World Oceans Day we were joined by On Our Wave Length and Marine Conservation Society to take a deep dive on World Ocean’s Day into what a green/blue post Covid-19 renewal might look like and what role young people can play. In the second of series, we were joined by #iwill and Scottish Youth Parliament to discuss the role of young people and practitioners’ role in engaging and empowering young people to take environmental action at home. On World Youth Day Rural Youth Project and young steering committee partners helped us connect rural youth practice with climate change action. 

Responding to the Needs of the Sector

As a result of feedback from policy seminar delegates about the need to frame policy more strongly at local and national level and the demand for youth work to be more “seen” across public sector policy and within the political system and to encourage investment in the sector. The policy planning group took the decision to host its first YouthLink Scotland Policy Convention in 2021 on a right to youth work. Almost 200 delegates took part in an informative and enthusiastic day featuring young people, youth workers, politicians, policy and research professionals and international expert speakers and delegates. 

Interested to know more?

Check out our resource library for all our up to date policy and consultation responses.

Landscape image of Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh on sunny day

#YouthLinkPolicyCon 2022

After the successful online policy convention on a right to youth work in 2021, we were pleased to announce our next policy convention, “Youth Work is Human Rights Work”, which took place on Human Rights Day, December 8, under a unique billing, “YouthLink Scotland, Winter Festival of Policy”. We heard from local, national and international speakers on the role youth work plays at enabling and enhancing the rights of young people across a range of public policy areas. 

The policy planning group is currently planning for the activities we will feature and when and on what topic will form the third annual policy convention of 2023. We will continue to use the series to form views/actions and build an evidence base that connects youth work practice to police influencing at all levels. We hope you will continue to support us as we build the movement for investment in youth work and stronger recognition in key public policy areas. 

Want to hear more?

Hear from the rest of our #YouthLinkPolicyCon 2022 speakers on our YouTube playlist.

Through key supported meetings and events, the policy planning team facilitates networking and collaboration among key stakeholders. It creates precious thinking and critical reflection time to formulate policy, connecting politics and public affairs to better advocate for the youth work sector.  The group is responsible for YouthLink Scotland’s Annual Policy Convention. This helps build an evidence base to reflect and direct priorities on issues that matter to young people, youth work leaders, promoting national and international good practice. 

Through direct engagement with youth work practitioners, we produce youth work manifestos to support our policy and influencing at the local and the national level. In particular, we are keen to highlight to politicians the unswerving belief of the sector that youth work is a critical industry in the social fabric of Scotland and one that enhances and changes young people’s lives. We do this by working alongside the youth work sector to create policy and political demands reflecting the aspirations of young people. We campaign to see these priorities reflected by elected representatives and political parties in all their political materials and outputs as well as work alongside the Government of the day to bring them to fruition.  


2023 - A Right to Critical Education in Times of Political Crisis

In 2023, the YouthLink Scotland Policy Convention focused on the right to critical education in times of political crisis and what that means for a possible policy roadmap to securing youth work opportunities for all young people in Scotland. It included a parallel focus on Education Reform. 

2024 - International Policy Summit on Youth Work and Civic Engagement – International Policy Perspectives

In 2024, we are delighted to host an international policy summit on Youth Work and Civic Engagement – International Policy Perspectives. Early sign-up is advised – you can do so here.

Need a chat?

Get in touch with Kevin Kane (Policy and Research Manager)