Jim Sweeney: The government must appreciate the value of youth work
LAST week, YouthLink Scotland published the findings from our new survey of national voluntary youth work organisations in Scotland.
It highlights the incredible commitment and contribution made by youth work volunteers the length and breadth of the country. The survey reveals that a staggering 73,004 adult youth work volunteers contributed to a total of 12,841,040 volunteering hours through national voluntary youth work organisations to help make a difference to the lives of Scotland’s young people and the communities they live in. Based on an average youth work staff rate of £10 per hour, if this time was to be paid for it would have cost the public purse more than £128 million.
In addition, the survey shows that 386,795 young people were engaged in some form of youth work via the 33 national organisations from within our membership that contributed to this report.
The publication also underlines the importance of the Scottish Government’s Unified Voluntary Sector Fund to voluntary youth work organisations in Scotland.
This fund, which is currently under review by ministers, is particularly crucial as it is one of the only sources of dedicated “core funding” that these type of national youth work organisations have access to. This contribution to core funding enables organisations to look beyond the immediate need to fundraise and focus on the direct delivery of services to our young people.
Youth work volunteers come from all walks of life and give freely of their time and skills to better enable Scotland’s young people to be all they can be. The flexibility and skills that youth workers bring enables them to develop trust from young people, which in many cases is the first time that that young person may have ever trusted an adult.
The positive contribution of youth workers and youth work volunteers should never be overlooked or under-estimated and it is important that the significant statistics and findings from this report are recognised at all levels of decision making in Scotland.
We hope government and businesses in Scotland will now better understand the need for continued and increased investment in youth work.
• Jim Sweeney is chief executive of YouthLink Scotland, the National Agency for Youth Work.
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Sunday 26 May 2013
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