Includem is backing plans for a Finnish style Hobby Guarantee scheme.

Children in Scotland’s 2021-26 Manifesto is calling for a Hobby Premium (also called ‘the Hobby Guarantee’ or ‘the Finnish Model’) to be introduced in Scotland.

The Hobby Guarantee came into law in Finland in 2016 and was introduced after policy research recognised that hobbies have a foundational role in wellbeing and building community belonging.

It ensures that all children and young people have access to a free hobby based around the school day regardless of family income levels.

‘The case for the Hobby Guarantee in Scotland is clear, many children and young people in Scotland struggle to access opportunities due to poverty, commercialisation of youth activities and cuts to civic services and spaces,’ said Martin Dorchester, Chief Executive of includem.

‘Deprived neighbourhoods have little access to affordable, accessible hobbies in their local areas. This leaves low-income children and young people at a significant disadvantage compared to more affluent peers.’

There is a wealth of research illustrating the benefits of hobbies to mental and physical health, brain development, creative thinking, learning skills and resilience.

‘From speaking with our partners at the forefront of trying to address barriers to creativity – such as MusicPlus, MusicCares and MusicBroth it is clear any Scottish model would need to: address years of underinvestment in children and young people’s participation in culture.’

Martin added that a flexible approach was necessary to overcome barriers faced by children and young people in Scotland such as poverty, experiences of informal or formal school exclusion, care experience and offending behaviour.

‘Now is the time to look at how we can collaborate with civic organisations and social enterprises, tapping into existing networks of clubs and skilled providers and best practice.

‘We need to build a future where access to recreation, creativity and wellbeing is a sustainable and foundational part of growing up in Scotland,’ she added.

‘Having good quality local hobby provision for all with a choice of how and where to access them is central to achieving this.