Analysis and comment of YPI findings in the first half of the 2019/20 term by Mel Liddell, Learning and Evaluation Manager at The Wood Foundation.
YPI provides an opportunity for young people to develop their skills practically while engaging in their local communities, bringing a real-world context to their learning and the platform and space to make a difference as part of #generationchange.
With an enhanced focus on our programme evaluation, we have seen the emergence of a number of trends relating to what our young people are advocating and most passionate about. And who better to unpick this than me, the self-confessed data geek of The Wood Foundation team.
More than 37,500 students will take part in YPI this academic year and as we pass the halfway point of the calendar, the trends provide a unique insight into our young people’s drivers.
By December, 29% of finals had taken place with 2000 of #generationchange representing 400 charities.
YPI has acted as a vehicle for young people to understand and become more involved in their communities. For example, 77% of young people have a better understanding of how charities work within their communities and believe that they make a difference. An additional 18% have stated that since their participation in YPI they are likely to volunteer in the future. With 28% of people volunteering within Scotland (Scottish Household Survey, 2017), YPI has an important role to play in providing a gateway to sustained youth action and sustainable civic engagement.
Having set in place a robust evaluation process, we have been able to further understand the motivations and passions which underpin our young people’s participation in YPI. Reflecting on terms one and two, the top social issues that young people have represented are:
Since 2014 there has been a 22% increase in mental health referrals across Scotland (Scottish Government, 2018). This equates to one in three people experiencing a mental health challenge at some point in their lifetime, with one in 10 of these being aged between five and 16. The scale and severity of this issue is well documented and is reflected in YPI data, with 21% of teens having represented mental health support charities.
The prevalence of this issue was most acute the North-east. Interestingly, NHS Grampian cites the highest referral rates and longest waiting times in Scotland for mental health services.
Health and disability
In Scotland, 29% of people state that they are not in ‘good’ or ‘very good’ health (IDS Scotland, 2019). This is reflected with 19% of teams representing health charities which offer vital support to people. More than 120 represented charities which focus their support services on cancer-related illnesses.
Social exclusion & isolation
Social exclusion & isolation The Connected Scotland strategy (Scottish Government, 2018) states that one in 10 individuals often feel lonely with 21% saying they did not feel they had a strong sense of belonging in their local community. More than 10% of YPI finalist teams have identified social isolation as an area of significant concern within their local communities and have supported social exclusion and loneliness charities, with an increased focus on ageing generations.
Domestic and sexual abuse
A Crime and Justice report by the Scottish Government (2018) stated that the North-east had an above average rate of domestic abuse with more than 5000 cases reported. Domestic and sexual abuse support services feature strongly through YPI, with 9% of our finalist teams representing these charities. The prevalence of teams representing this issue is higher in the North-east. Reflecting upon 2018/19 YPI data, we have seen a 13% increase in young people focusing on these issues.
Poverty remains a prominent focus within YPI. With recent news stating that there are now more foodbanks than McDonalds in the UK (Burke, 2019), we have seen 9% of our finalist teams representing charities that support those in poverty. One in 5 people in Scotland, including 240,000 children, live in poverty. Analysis of our YPI data identified that the prevalence of this issue was markedly higher in Edinburgh where there are 21,000 young people living in poverty. More than 50 YPI #generationchange have backed this cause in the Capital alone.
Between 2018 and 2019, 14,043 people were reported as homeless in Scotland (Scottish Government, 2019). We are seeing a direct correlation between these national statistics and the issues that are resonating with our young people. Over the past six months alone, 75 young people have presented at YPI finals on behalf of homelessness charities, with more than half of these being from Edinburgh. Edinburgh has the second highest rate of homelessness in Scotland.
There is a direct correlation and alignment when comparing YPI and national data and reports. There are emerging trends that YPI provides invaluable insight into local communities and the most prominent issues therein from our young people’s perspectives. Furthermore, it shows that our YPI data provides a unique, real-time perspective, ahead of the policy curve, that could support, contribute and influence. With this in mind, we will continue to fully mobilise and amplify the voice and perspective of our young people who so fully engage in YPI.