Youth Evidence Base

What impact does regularly attending youth clubs have for young people? Today, three new research reports, collectively called the Youth Evidence Base, have been published that help to answer this question.

Commissioned by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, SQW is proud to have led this research with three partners: UK Youth, the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex and the University of Warwick. We were also supported by a fantastic Youth Panel, convened by UK Youth, who helped design our research approaches and interpret findings.

The Youth Evidence Base comprises three studies (here):

  • The first – 'Youth provision and life outcomes: A study of longitudinal research' – analyses five different longitudinal datasets, and finds a clear association between participation in youth provision and positive short- and longer-term outcomes relating to physical health and wellbeing, pro-social behaviours and education
  • The second – 'Youth provision and life ouctomes: Systematic literature review' – looks at what international evidence says about the impact of open access youth provision on young people. The review provides evidence showing that youth activities have beneficial impacts for young people across a range of personal, social, educational, and economic outcomes
  • The third – 'Youth provision and life outcomes: A study of the local impact of youth clubs' – sought to expand understanding of how changes in local youth provision have shaped outcomes for young people and their wider communities. The research looks at local authority spending and finds that, during the period 2011 to 2021, local authority youth funding in England more than halved and that, during a similar period, the number of youth clubs nearly halved. In this context, youth work has had to change. Specifically, it has become more targeted, with a growing reliance on volunteers who increasingly fill gaps left by a lack of professional youth workers.

The Youth Evidence Base adds to a growing body of robust evidence about, a), the impact the youth sector generates for young people and, b), the significant challenges the youth sector faces.

In light of our findings, DCMS has recommissioned SQW and UK Youth to examine how the changing shape of the youth workforce is affecting the role that volunteers play in sustaining youth services.