Coronavirus puts £20m black hole in youth work sector

Youth organisations are predicting a ‘massive increase’ in demand for their services post-lockdown but say they are close to breaking point
6th May 2020, 12:02am

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Coronavirus puts £20m black hole in youth work sector

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archive/coronavirus-puts-ps20m-black-hole-youth-work-sector
Coronavirus Puts £20m Black Hole In Youth Work Sector

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 £20.5 million this year, a new survey of sector leaders by national youth work agency, YouthLink Scotland, has found.

Some 70 per cent of the sector - which includes organisations such as Scouts Scotland, The Prince's Trust, Girlguiding Scotland, LGBT Youth Scotland, The Boys' Brigade Scotland and YMCA Scotland - believes there will also be significant cuts to youth work budgets and services after the Covid-19 outbreak.


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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 into the youth work sector 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 £350 million 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, 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 front-line delivering food and caring for some of the most vulnerable in our society."

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 per cent) of young people said they felt moderately or extremely concerned about their own mental wellbeing.

Kerry Reilly, chief executive of YMCA Scotland, said young people needed to know "the vital support of youth workers" would still be there for them when they came out of lockdown.

She added: "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."

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