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What have we learned so far?
Play and youth services in Glasgow East

Third sector play and youth-based services provide multiple free or very low-cost play and activity sessions for children and young people across the CHANGE project area. They are usually based in community venues or ‘pop-up’ venues in local parks or streets. The combination of low-cost and location makes them very accessible to families. The services highlighted in this summary do not provide registered childcare.

Key points are:

Numbers and profile

In June 2018, almost 1,000 children were attending sessions run by play and youth services in the CHANGE area each week. There are 4,709 children aged 4-14 living in the CHANGE project area.

Some services have ‘stay and play’ sessions for parents and carers. Families have told us that meeting other families can help reduce isolation and can be a valuable source of information for parents and carers. Play and youth service providers reported a desire to increase the number of activities that the whole family can attend.

Many school-aged children consulted said they would prefer to go to a play service than an out of school care or childminder.

Some sessions offered by services are over-subscribed. Sometimes services have to limit the number of sessions that an individual child can attend during school holiday programmes.

Type of service

Play services have a high profile locally with children being more aware of these services than of registered childcare.

Play sessions offered by some different services take place in venues that are entirely outdoors.

Outdoor play was something that the majority of children and parents and carers spoken to said they would like to be available locally.

Service connections

Individuals working in play and youth services are highly skilled and have usually developed relationships with families over time.

There are good links between services, which often signpost families who are accessing a service and don’t realise that others are available.


Services face a continual struggle to ensure they have adequate funding and resources to deliver their programmes.

Services told us they would benefit from longer and more secure funding, which would ideally measure outcomes for children and families rather than simply numbers attending. Families told us they need services that are longer term, not operating for a year or often less.


The information in this learning summary has been drawn from the following sources.

CHANGE Community Engagement Phase 1. This report summarises the feedback the CHANGE team received from children and families about their experience of accessing childcare. It covers summary of the initial community engagement work between October 2016 and June 2017.

Seldom Heard Voices report. This report provides a summary of the second phase of community engagement activity carried out by CHANGE. This explores some of the issues faced by families who may have additional barriers to accessing childcare.

Family Voices. Family Voices is an audio resource where parents, carers and grandparents talk about their experience of accessing childcare and other services.

Engagement with providers. CHANGE has developed strong working relationships with play and youth service providers across our project area. We regularly meet with providers directly and we have invited them to present at CHANGE events.

CHANGE Evaluation. The Glasgow Centre for Population Health evaluated the CHANGE project between October 2016 and September 2019 and has four key research questions. Using a mixture of qualitative and quantitative methods they have explored the level of provision and use of childcare across the CHANGE area.