Youth work in Perth and Kinross could be revolutionised thanks to a new partnership between the council and a leading charitable trust.
In a move believed to be the first of its kind in Scotland, the council has agreed to work with the Gannochy Trust to invest £900,000 in youth work projects over the next three years.
Both organisations claim this will result in more funding invested in youth work, against a backdrop of cuts to projects across the rest of Scotland.
Organisers say the change provides youth centres across the area with security to “open the doors and keep the lights on” making it easier to recruit and retain skilled staff and freeing up more time to work with young people.
Previously, projects could only apply to the council for funding in one-year blocks, though other organisations offered longer arrangements.
The partnership will make it easier for youth clubs to provide activities and drop-in centres during evenings, weekends and holidays.
Youth work helps young people to develop as well as providing a “safe space” for them to meet and socialise.
Councillor Caroline Shiers, Perth and Kinross Council’s lifelong learning convener, said: “This is a huge project and I can’t thank the Gannochy Trust enough for working with us on delivering this.”
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Ms Shiers said she had maintained an interest in youth work since working in the sector in Alyth 15 years ago.
“This secures the core funding organisations need to open the doors and keep the lights on. This will be a model that other local authorities will look at.”
From this month, the partnership will invest in local youth work agencies in five areas covering the whole of Perth and Kinross.
Six projects have won funding: the Logos Youth Project in Strathearn and Strathallan, KYTHE Youth Project in Kinross-shire and the Strathmore Centre for Youth Development.
The Alyth Youth Partnership and Coupar Angus Youth Action Group, Highland and Strathtay’s Breathe and Perth and District YMCA make up the rest of the group.
Youth clubs will continue to apply to other organisations for additional funding.
Carol Downie, Gannochy Trust chief executive, said the changes had come after two years of meetings with stakeholders.
She said the numbers of young people attending youth clubs had been falling and the new partnership comes out of their efforts to reverse this trend.
She said: “This lets organisations offer contracts for the next three years rather than on an annual basis, making it easier to retain good staff.
“Organisations currently spend a lot of time filling in forms and this will allow them to spend more time doing direct delivery with young people, which is the main thing.”