Money should be no barrier for young people to gain skills for life

Money should be no barrier for young people to gain skills for life

07 October 2022

On 5 October, Scouts from across Scotland came together to take action to prevent rising costs becoming a barrier for young people in accessing opportunities to gain skills for life. They discussed the need for poverty awareness, recognising that the cost-of-living crisis is affecting families in all communities. Best practice was shared and they considered ways to make Scouting more affordable and accessible to families in their communities, and to be sensitive about how this is delivered: rising costs are a worry for parents and guardians, and for young people too.

You can view the webinar here: 

According to research by Inflation Nation, around 93% of 11 to 18-year-olds knew about the cost-of-living crisis and over 77% have been told by parents that they may have to cut down on spending causing 30% to already be worried about what that means.

The research also reports that 61% of 11 to 18-year-olds in the UK worry about their parents or guardians not having enough money for them to do the things they want or have the things they need.

This weeks' webinar is just one step in a programme of work to identify and overcome barriers that young people and adult volunteers from low-income families may face in terms of the costs associated with their participation and engagement in Scouts.

In an effort to ensure that poverty would not become a barrier, Scouts Scotland appointed volunteer Michael Shanks to look into ways the movement could remove barriers to young people joining Scouts and ensure volunteers delivering the programme were poverty aware.

Michael said:

“The cost-of-living crisis is affecting every part of our society, and Scouts is part of the communities that are really struggling just now. We’ve always been at the forefront of ensuring young people go on adventures and gain skills for life. Now we want to ensure poverty doesn’t become a barrier to those experiences.

Our volunteers have produced good practice guides on poverty awareness with practical tips for groups. The work doesn't stop there as we continue to identify any vulnerable groups and consider how we might support them.

This includes how our members pay, the costs of participation, the costs of uniform and equipment and potential funding opportunities to provide an equity of access.

Whether it is community food projects in the Highlands and Islands or uniform recycling schemes in Glasgow, we are determined to do whatever works to continue to include all young people in Scouts.”


Youth work in Scotland is part of the education system. It has an incredibly valuable impact on the life chances for young people, particularly those affected by poverty and inequality or who are disengaged with classroom education.

We support YouthLink Scotland’s position that youth work is a valuable element of the learner journey for all children and young people, helping them to develop a broad range of skills, capacities and achievements to support them to succeed. It complements and enhances delivery of the formal curriculum, and the provision of support for pupils, contributing to raising attainment and improving outcomes for young people, especially, but not exclusively those impacted by poverty.

Scouting currently has 34,667 youth members across 2,168 groups in almost every community in Scotland, of which 11,839 youth members (35%) are Scouts in Scotland’s most deprived communities. The organisation provides young people with the skills that they need for life in a non-formal setting. The Scouts programme in Scotland is aligned with the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE), whilst providing young people the opportunity to succeed outside the classroom.


Graeme Luke, Chief Executive of Scouts Scotland, said:

“As Scouts, we believe in preparing young people with skills for life. We encourage them to do more, learn more and be more, and believe all young people should be able to access this opportunity. Whilst Scouts tends to be at the less expensive end of youth activities, the cost may present a barrier to some young people taking part.

Our small but passionate team of volunteers has already done fantastic work, identifying what advice Scout leaders need in order to provide practical support in their communities across Scotland

Challenge Poverty Week has been an opportunity for Scouts to view poverty through the lens of our values: having respect for others, caring for others, supporting the communities in which we live and inclusion. We pride ourselves in our efforts to get it right for every child, which includes those that are living in poverty and in areas of deprivation.”


Scouts Scotland poverty aware resources: 5 asks for leaders:

Understand poverty and how it impacts your Scouts

Be flexible in the way families pay for Scouts

Let families know what your plans are so they can budget for paid activities

Reducing the cost of uniform and equipment

Think about your own funding as the cost-of-living impacts organisations


Scouts Scotland currently provides youth work interventions to families who are experiencing poverty. If Scouts and their parents or guardians are worried about the cost of activities, they are encouraged to talk to a local Scout leader. Further support for Scouts across the UK will be announced over the next few weeks at: