Since the cashback for communities programme was launched, in 2008, young people in East Lothian have benefited from 40 projects and £1.5 million of investment. That has delivered more than 65,000 activities to support young people from East Lothian into positive destinations and divert them from potentially criminal behaviour.
C ashback for communities is a transformative initiative, and it is heartening to hear that so many organisations and young people in my constituency have benefited from it. Can the cabinet secretary share with the chamber some of the findings from the evaluation of the latest phase of the programme, specifically regarding the impact that involvement in the scheme has had on young people’s lives?
I agree with the member, because I have seen the impact of the initiative in my own consistency. The evaluation of phase 4 of cashback for communities, which ran from 2017 to 2020, was published in December last year, and, during that phase, the initiative reached more than 100,000 young people. Involvement in the programme was found to have directly improved the wellbeing of more than 80,000 young people; to have moved 35,000 young people on to a positive destination such as a new job or further education; and, specifically, to have reduced the antisocial or criminal behaviour of more than 80,000 young people. More than two thirds of the young people who were involved were from the most deprived areas in Scotland.
A quote from one of our cashback for communities participants in the Action for Children behavioural change, wellbeing and inclusion service demonstrates the impact that the programme has on the young people of Scotland:
““I wasnae doing anything with my life … now, seven months down the line, I’m in my first year of training and I’ll be starting an apprenticeship ... In four years, I’ll be a fully qualified electrician.”
The story of the success that we are having with those initiatives to divert people away from a life of crime is not told often enough.