New Report: Increasing Children and young people’s Access to Hobbies and leisure activities.

Date: 8th April 2024
Category: Education, Leisure and Cultural Activities, General measures of implementation

children playing in the park

During a six-week journey to Finland and Iceland in September and October 2023, Amy Woodhouse CEO Parenting Across Scotland, supported by a Churchill Fellowship, explored how these countries have enhanced access to hobbies for children and young people. The aim was to gather insights that could be applied to Scotland, where despite existing hobby provision, barriers such as financial constraints and lack of a national model hinder participation.

The Finnish Model, in operation since 2021, focuses on improving the well-being of children aged 7–17 by offering free leisure activities, coordinated by hobby coordinators in municipalities. In Iceland, the model introduced in the 1990s aims to reduce substance abuse among teenagers by providing support for accessing hobbies through a Leisure Card system.

Key findings from the research include the importance of national impetus, dedicated funding, participation, and data collection. Both countries rely on existing organisations to deliver activities, with emphasis on the role of instructors. The timing and location of hobbies vary between the two models, with Finland primarily utilizing schools and Iceland offering hobbies in diverse settings.

The report concludes with recommendations for Scotland, emphasising the need for a national dialogue on hobbies involving all stakeholders, particularly children and young people. It suggests mapping current funding, exploring national and local operational models, and addressing the needs of specific groups, including those in rural areas or with protected characteristics.