A Youth Scotland network update on operations and support during the Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic

Guidance and Support for Community-Based Youth Work During Covid-19

Updated: 09/04/2021

Updated Covid-19 Guidance for CLD Services 

The Scottish Government Covid-19 Guidance for the delivery of CLD services has been updated with changes coming into effect from 5 April 

The key change relevant to youth work providers is:  

  • Essential indoor youth work activities, targeted at vulnerable young people aged 12-17, will be permitted from 5 April. Maximum of 15 persons, including youth workers. Indoor activity should be limited to activity that cannot take place online or outdoors

YouthLink Scotland and the youth work sector have updated the Guiding Framework to support the delivery of youth work services to reflect these changes. 

Some lockdown measures have changed

Following the First Minster’s address on 9 March, and Scotland’s Strategic Framework Update issued on 23 February 2021, some of the lockdown restrictions have been eased, primarily regarding outdoor meeting.

Scotland’s Strategic Framework Update states: “Our strategic intent remains to: suppress the virus to the lowest possible level and keep it there, while we strive to return to a more normal life for as many people as possible.”

Guidance on the delivery of youth work

To reflect these changes, YouthLink Scotland and the youth work sector have updated the Guiding Framework to support the delivery of youth work services document. The guidance continues to advise that remote and digital youth work may remain the safest approach for many groups. However, from Friday 12 March, some outdoor activities may resume.

Prior to resuming face-to-face youth activities

We would advise all community-based youth workers and groups to be aware of the ‘Expectations before delivery’ section of the Guiding Framework to support the delivery of youth work services and to carry out their own risk assessment of any planned activity.

Good communication with young people and their parents or carers can set expectations and ensure that safety questions and concerns are dealt with.

You can find our Youth Scotland Post Lockdown Readiness Guide - Planning for your youth group/organisation as lockdown eases guide at the foot of this page, aimed at helping community-based youth work be ready for the changes and beyond.

Key changes to note:

Outdoor youth work

From Friday 12 March, up to 15 people total (young people and youth workers combined) may gather outside in any interaction in a locality. Social distancing for workers and young people over 12 should continue to be observed. Travel to/from youth work is permitted within the same Local Authority. More details can be found on page 6 of the Guiding Framework to support the delivery of youth work services

Detached youth work

Detached youth work may now resume in response to local needs. Detached youth work is youth work that takes place on the streets, parks and other outdoor parts of our communities where young people are. Detached youth work can therefore be a great way to engage or reengage with young people during lockdown. You can download Youth Scotland’s Guide to Detached Youth Work here or at the foot of the page.

Youth work in schools

As part of education recovery, outdoor youth work may now be delivered during the school day, in line with Scottish Government Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on schools reopening and in agreement with schools and Local Authorities. More details can be found on page 6 of the Guiding Framework to support the delivery of youth work services

Providing one-to-one support to vulnerable young people (outdoors and indoors)

The provision of one-to-one support to vulnerable young people is permitted to continue. This may include continuing to provide essential items and support to families, children or young people in crisis, including measures to address food insecurity. From page 5 of the Guiding Framework to support the delivery of youth work services

Outdoor sports

Youth work leaders considering delivery of organised outdoor contact sports should consult Scottish Government guidelines and Sports Scotland advice. Non-contact outdoor group sports for 12-17 year olds is permitted subject to sport-specific guidance. From page 6 of the Guiding Framework to support the delivery of youth work services

Digital youth work

We expect digital youth work to remain part of community-based youth work for the foreseeable future. Many groups may be reluctant or unable to resume face-to-face youth work at this stage. Youth Scotland has some valuable resources available to support this further down this page. We also regularly run online training to support workers

Youth Scotland Resources

Further down this page are sections on Digital Youth Work and Safe Online Working.  To support the outdoor services now permissible, we also have free guides and toolkits on Outdoor Activities and Outdoor Youth Work

Outdoor Activities and Outdoor Youth Work

We have produced some handy guides on detached youth work and outdoor activities.

Youth Scotland's Outdoor Games Film Tutorial

 Young girl pointing at user with playground in the background

Get ready to have fun with your youth group outside with our new FREE Outdoor Games Session tutorial film! In less than 15 minutes, you can learn some safe, fun outdoor games activities you can do with your groups, with social distancing, hand hygiene and safe use of equipment.

Developed with support from CashBack for Communities, these games require either no equipment or minimal equipment and we will talk you through how to use the equipment safely. Where possible, we have also added instructions on how to play online!

To access the Outdoor Games Film for FREE, register here and you will be emailed a link to the Outdoor Games Film. 

Youth Scotland’s Guide to Detached Youth Work

This pack is for youth workers who are interested in detached youth work, whether they are already a detached youth worker or wanting to develop detached youth work. This pack looks at the practicalities of detached youth work and the benefits of it.

Youth Scotland’s Guide to Out and About Youth Work

This pack is for groups who are interested in outdoor activities. The outdoors can be a great place to learn and have fun and can make a significant contribution to the health and wellbeing of young people and adults. Positive experiences can generate an interest in the outdoors which goes far beyond the boundaries of your youth group.

Digital Youth Work and Safe Online Working

During lockdown, digital youth has been the most common form of delivery for many groups. The following advice and resources help support these activities.

Advice on safe digital youth work

At the bottom of this page you can download a quick guide on suggestions and advice for safe online youth work. We are asked: how can we reach young people digitally? How can we do it safely? What activities can we arrange online when our youth centres are closed? Safeguarding the young people, you work with and keeping yourself safe are still top priorities.

Youth Highland, our Area Association partner have produced a guide from their experience of working online. It also includes their views on social media and other digital tools - download at the foot of this page.

Cyber security advice from Police Scotland

Police Scotland have issued some very accessible cyber security videos that their colleagues in the City of London Police have shared. The videos cover: Phishing, Vishing, Multi-Factor Authentication, Passwords, Software updates, Social engineering and Securing your router. The topics may sound daunting, but the videos avoid jargon and explain things clearly. See the download at the foot of this page.

Where next for community-based youth work?

Youth Scotland will continue to work to understand the needs and concerns of its members and to advocate for youth work to be a crucial part of the way out of lockdown and the recovery process. Scottish Government have laid out how lockdown easing will be addressed. The current easing of restrictions from Friday 12 March are prior to any return to regional Levels (page 55 in Scotland’s Strategic Framework Update).

Guidance issued by the Scottish Government states, "While we are easing restrictions within Level 4, as set out above, our understanding will develop in two key areas: the effectiveness of the vaccine, particularly in terms of reducing transmission; and how the R number, particularly of the new variant, responds to changes in protective measures. This intelligence will inform our next steps."


Other Useful Information

The following resources are available for groups during the pandemic and beyond.

Child Protection Additional Guidance from Scottish Government

Scottish Government are advising that there is likely to be a rise in child protection concerns due to the impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic on families and wider society.

In light of this, Scottish Government have issues some additional Covid-19 guidance which supplements the National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland

Occupational Risk Assessment Guidance

This guidance, from Scottish Government, explains the risk assessment process in relation to the specific risk of COVID-19 to individuals in the workplace. In particular, this is relevant to those staff members who are returning to work after shielding, those who are returning to normal duties after COVID-19 related restrictions, those who are returning to the workplace after working from home or anyone who has a concern about a particular vulnerability to COVID-19. There are three things which affect the occupational health risk from COVID-19. Download the guide below.


More guidance will be available on this page, among other sources. To ensure you know about the guidance as soon as it’s made available, follow us on Twitter Facebook and sign up to our E-newsletter  

Pages and links:


For everyone involved in community based youth work. Find out more about what we do and apply for membership.