4. To ask the Scottish Government how it plans to support community groups to ensure that they leave a cultural legacy from their year of young people activities. (S5O-02180)
A great deal of activity is currently under way to make this year a catalyst for new ways of working with young people at a local level. Through our create18 fund, the Government is supporting young people to work with community groups throughout Scotland to plan and deliver high-quality community events, helping young people to showcase their talents and contributions to their local communities and helping to change attitudes to and perceptions of young people.
We are also working with local authorities to give young people the opportunity to have their voices heard and to create a lasting cultural change by putting young people at the heart of local decision making and the co-design of the services that they use.
Groups such as the universal connections centres in Rutherglen and Cambuslang and terminal one in Blantyre have events planned throughout the year to mark the year of young people, from the forever young event in Cambuslang to the musical showcase featuring children from across my constituency of Rutherglen. It is good to see local groups fully on board with this great initiative. Can the minister advise on whether a legacy evaluation will be undertaken to measure the success of this year of young people, in order to learn positive lessons for the next themed year in 2020?
We are developing an evaluation framework for the year of young people, which will ensure that the aims, objectives and outcomes of the year are met, and that will also measure the success of co-designing Scottish Government policies to create a lasting legacy beyond 2018. All of that complements the evaluation that YoungScot is leading, which is looking at the overall co-design element of the year. The Scottish Government is certainly committed to ensuring that the programme of themed years engages with young people, and it will continue to invite representatives from children’s and young people’s organisations to join us directly and make sure that their interests are fully represented.
One community group that is already doing invaluable work to support young people on the islands that I represent is the Orkney Youth Cafe. Unfortunately, if funding difficulties are not resolved by the autumn, the doors of the youth cafe could close. Therefore, I ask the minister to ask his officials to engage directly with the board of the youth cafe to ensure that one of the legacies of the year of young people is not the closure of that vital facility.
Although I have not been involved personally with that particular organisation, I am happy to accede to the member’s request and ensure that officials meet him and the board to see whether there are any opportunities for a conversation that would be helpful.
For community groups to deliver invaluable cultural benefit, support from qualified youth workers is needed. However, is the minister aware that in evidence to the Local Government and Communities Committee last year, Unison Scotland stated that youth worker jobs have been substantially cut across Scotland? Does he agree that job losses in services will leave a negative legacy in communities that have suffered the brunt of those austerity cuts?
Clearly, the contribution of youth workers is very important to a number of the programmes that we are mentioning. In some cases, they will be employees of local authorities, and I do not wish to repeat the points that I made earlier. However, the Scottish Government is always willing to work with all who seek to promote the value of not just youth workers but the people with whom they work.