YOUTH volunteer workers and youth projects in Helensburgh and Lomond have been praised in a new report.

However, significant improvements are needed in the provision of adult learning opportunities in the area, according to Education Scotland.

An inspection by of community learning and development (CLD) in Argyll and Bute has found that the local authority’s services are positively helping young people, with youth voice and empowerment among the strengths recognised.

Performance indicators that gauge the quality of CLD show the impact on the local community as “good” and delivery of CLD as “satisfactory”.

However, leadership and direction of the services are graded “weak”, with the lack of a shared understanding of vision, values and aims highlighted as a major area of concern, requiring urgent attention.

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The inspection report, published this week, says: “Support to the Helensburgh and Lomond Youth Forum [HLYF] and Junior Youth Forum is resulting in increasing confidence.

“A well-planned training programme for young volunteers at Route 81 is developing leadership capacity to take on the planning and delivery of the youth work programmes.

“Route 81 approaches to developing volunteers’ capacity resulted in 3,500 volunteering hours and 55 Saltire Awards.

“The increased capacity in the membership of the HLYF resulted in 64 young people taking part in the ‘get inspired through volunteering’ (GIVE) summer youth programme.

“Ambitious and proactive community organisations are enhancing community life and infrastructure across the area.”

Volunteer-led community groups such as the Kirkmichael Community Development Group, Helensburgh and Lomond Foodbank and the Welcome In recovery cafe are recognised for contributing to community life and increasing wellbeing and inclusion.

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The highly valued support offered by youth workers is also commended, while Helensburgh Library is credited with effectively supporting adult learners through employability, digital and literacy courses.

However, the report makes several recommendations for improvement.

It says: “Partnership approaches to developing the local adult learning offer are too sporadic and over-reliant on individual knowledge and local relationships. Progression routes are too focused on individual programmes or services.

“Leadership of CLD and governance of the CLD plan 2018-2021 is devolved by the local authority to a CLD strategic partnership. However, its membership and governance arrangements require strengthening.”

The report adds that “significant improvements are needed” and Education Scotland inspectors will revisit the local authority to check on progress within one year.

Youth and adult learning services were slashed by the council in its 2019/20 budget cuts in a bid to save £330,000 by getting rid of more than half of the workforce equivalent to 17.1 posts.

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An Argyll and Bute Council spokesperson said: “We are pleased the review highlights the ambition of community organisations and volunteers, and identifies that the work of the CLD partners is empowering young people.

“We will work with Education Scotland to identify how best to support the CLD partners in delivering those improvements.”