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EACEA National Policies Platform


5. Participation

5.6 Supporting youth organisations

Last update: 25 January 2021

LAST MODIFIED ON: 09/10/2020 - 10:44

On this page
  1. Legal/policy framework for the functioning and development of youth organisations
  2. Public financial support
  3. Initiatives to increase the diversity of participants


Legal/policy framework for the functioning and development of youth organisations

There is no top-level policy framework specifically for the functioning and development of youth organisations. However, the UNCRC Incorporation Bill 2020 will enshrine children’s rights as legally protected in Scotland. This means that public authorities as well as organisations across the spectrum (including youth organisations) must take steps to respect children’s rights in their decisions and actions. For example, the National Voluntary Youth Organisations Support Fund (read more below under “Public Financial Support” requires:

As a condition of the grant, you must will take steps to promote, respect, protect and fulfil the rights of children and young people and increase awareness of the UNCRC amongst our staff and stakeholders. You should also promote the UNCRC throughout the creation and development of our programmes, projects, plans, policies and procedures in relation to this funding.

As well as this, the Government set out its approach to supporting and working collaboratively with national youth work organisations in the National Youth Work Strategy 2014-2019 entitled Our Ambitions for Improving the Life Chances of Young People in Scotland. The strategy outlines the Government's plans for collaborative working to ensure that young people are engaged in policy and legislative developments and decisions and are directly involved in local and national decision-making.

Moreover, a framework for an open and participative working relationship between the Scottish Government and voluntary sector youth organisations is provided by the Scottish Compact. First published in 1998 and revised in 2003, it is one of four Compacts across the UK. See ‘Main concepts’ for details.

There is a great variety of youth organisations of different sizes with different governance arrangements. Many are voluntary bodies operating as charities under the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005 (see 'Financial Accountability').


Public financial support

In addition to the Revenue Support Grant provided to local authorities from which they fund their youth and community learning and development activities (see ‘How youth policy is funded’), the Scottish Government also provides grant funding to external organisations and activities that address its policy priorities.  

The National Voluntary Youth Organisations Support Fund was set up by the Scottish Government to support national voluntary youth organisations to contribute to the achievement of the National Youth Work Strategy ambition that:

“All young people, in every part of Scotland, should have access to high quality and effective youth work practice.”


The Fund is administered by YouthLink Scotland, the national agency for youth work, which is also charged with attracting investment into the youth sector and developing a range of funding opportunities (see 'What is funded?' for further details).

The CashBack for Communities Facilities Fund is the Scottish Government's vehicle for reinvesting the proceeds of crime back into communities to benefit Scotland's young people. It supports not-for-profit community based organisations working with young people within the sports and outdoor learning sectors. Organisations can apply for funding towards improvements to facilities and/or equipment in order to offer high quality sport and physical activities which support the health and wellbeing of young people. Funding is targeted to disadvantaged young people in areas where there is a demonstrated need and an identified gap in existing provision.

OnSide Youth Zones is a charity, established in 2008, aiming to build a network of modern youth clubs, called Youth Zones, giving young people (aged 8 to 19, or 25 for those with a disability) safe and inspiring places to go in their leisure time. It operates on the basis of a four-way partnership between the private sector, the community, young people and the local authority. To meet the cost of building and fitting out a Youth Zone, the site is provided by the local authority and the remainder is made up of grants, trusts funding and local philanthropic giving. The annual running costs for a start-up Youth Zone are met 40 per cent by local authority support, 50 per cent by the local private sector and 10 per cent through membership and entry fees from young people.

A significant amount of public funding has been made available in light of the 2020 COVID-19 global pandemic. You can read more about this here


Initiatives to increase the diversity of participants

Young Start is a grants programme that distributes money from dormant bank accounts. It aims to create opportunities for voluntary and community organisations working with children and young people aged between 8 and 24 to help them realise their potential, particularly those children and young people who face barriers to doing so. It offers funding from £10,000 to £100,000. The fund recipient must achieve one of the following three outcomes: 

  • children and young people have better physical, mental and emotional well being;
  • children and young people have better connections with the wider community; 
  • and children and young people get access to new skills and training opportunities which help them get a new job or start a business.

From 2014 to March 2016, the UK Government made available additional funding for uniformed youth organisations across the UK, the Uniformed Youth Social Action Fund. Managed by Youth United Foundation, this was aimed at creating specific opportunities for young people facing barriers to engaging in social action to join uniformed youth organisations. It targeted young people who were being excluded due to a range of circumstances, such as:  young people with disabilities; young offenders in prison; young people in hospital; looked after young people (in the care of the local authority); young people from certain religious groups; or young people living in particular communities such as traveller communities, migrant populations, and isolated rural communities.

To gain funding under the scheme, organisations had to demonstrate that the additional places to be created by the fund would be sustainable for a period of at least two years beyond the end of the fund in March 2016.