A group of authorities in Scotland are planning to use the Young Scot National Entitlement Card (NEC) in a project aimed at improving attainment among young people.
Six local authorities, Transport Scotland, the Improvement Service and the Young Scot Attainment Challenge Partnership are involved in the project, under which holders will be able to use the card for various local entitlements aimed at reduced the country’s ‘attainment gap’.
They have come together after the cost of public transport was highlighted as being a significant barrier to accessing education, employment and amenities for many younger people; although the initial projects will also focus on other issues.
The first stage will involve pilots in three areas: for delivering preloaded travel tickets in Renfrewshire; accessing breakfast in schools in North Ayrshire; and obtaining sportswear and equipment in the Highlands.
In the case of Renfrewshire, the cards’ chips are loaded with bus tickets to enable the holders to make more use of public transport and provides for discounts on health and wellbeing activities. The local authority said this will help card holders to attend groups, clubs and health activities and to take up other opportunities.
Joe Cullinane, leader of North Ayrshire council, said: “We’ve already led the way in tackling holiday hunger so this new initiative will build on the progress made so far by allowing more young people greater access to breakfast in schools.”
Scotland’s Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “By using the Young Scot card, young people can access services and products that may otherwise be inaccessible to them – it is such a simple idea but could make the world of difference.
“The Scottish Government is committed to closing the attainment gap in our schools and addressing the root causes of poverty and inequality. This project will help to deliver on that ambition, address inequalities facing young people living in Scotland, close the attainment gap and empower young people to reach their full potential.”
The project is set to move on to three other local authorities, as yet unnamed, next year. It follows a lead set by the Renfrewshire Youth Services Model, a project that explored how the card could be used in pilots for jobseekers and care leavers.
Last year the Improvement Service – the national body to support local government in Scotland – got together with the charity Young Scot to develop new uses for the young people’s version of the national entitlement card.
Image from Young Scot