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Can youth funding help tackle the cost-of-living crisis?

Since its formation in 2005, the Essentia Foundation has remained committed to improving the health and well-being of young people across Scotland.

Scotland is in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis. Inflation rates have hit a 40-year high, and a rise in prices for food, fuel and household energy has created an additional burden for millions of households. For families with children, this burden has become particularly pressing. According to a recent Barnados UK Report, researchers found that 10% of parents were skipping meals weekly, and a further 10% reduced their portion size so that their children would have enough to eat.  

With families and young people expected to be some of the hardest hit, targeted support for this demographic will be urgently required. Whilst decision and policymakers need to mobilise, the third sector could, and arguably should, have an essential role in easing burdens for families, children and young adults. 

For young people, it is expected that there will be new demands for employability training and low-cost recreational activities. For the organisations that serve these young people, the primary concern will no doubt be keeping the lights on. New forecasts project that the energy price cap will increase by 65% in October 2022, and this increase will leave youth clubs and groups with new dilemmas around running costs and their capacity to support and create new projects.

Since its formation in 2005, The Essentia Foundation has remained committed to improving the health and well-being of young people across Scotland. If we examine the portfolio of Essentia projects, we can see that there are a number of awards that have actively aimed to reduce poverty and deprivation amongst families and assist them with various financial pressures.

In East Ayshire, Hillhouse CIC was awarded a grant of £3,000 to support a 'Mother Baby' initiative. This project distributed basic hygiene products, clothing, and essential goods to new mothers and families in the local area. Demand for the project was identified through consultation with local midwives who saw a trend in expectant mothers entering the labour ward without basic and essential items. Projects like these are vital in helping babies receive the best start to life as well as relieving financial pressure for mothers.  

In Fife, Muirhead Outreach Project was awarded a grant of £3,000 to support staffing costs for a developmental worker, which in turn, would increase service provision across the community. The ability to apply for staffing costs is an important factor for many application organisations, who often struggle to find core funding. The presence of additional or existing staff is vital in the youth sector as these workers often provide confidential or emotional support for vulnerable young people.

Further north, in Perth and Kinross, the #c200 fund was awarded grant monies to further support young people leaving full-time care. 125 care experienced young people stand to benefit directly from the project, which put young people at risk of financial inequalities and marginalisation onto a more equal footing.  

As we look towards the next 12 months, the Essentia Foundation will remain poised to provide emergency assistance to organisations and young people. Two grant-making rounds will open over 2022/2023, with opportunities to acquire small grants that can be used to reduce inequalities for young people who are in need of assistance. Whether it is food parcels, staffing costs or the creation of free recreational activities for youth, the Essentia Foundation looks forward to continuing its grant-making journey and tackling the cost-of-living crisis head-on.