Leisure & play

Taking part in leisure, hobbies and activities has huge benefits for children and young people but the costs attached often make this unaffordable.

Current policy context

Article 31 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) - which has now been incorporated into Scots law - covers a child’s right to relax, play and take part in a wide range of cultural and artistic activities.

However, many hobbies come with a cost attached and with persisting poverty levels and the cost-of-living crisis, many families are unable to pay for their children to partake in hobbies and leisure activities. CAB Scotland reported that at the end of 2023, over 235,000 parents and carers had to cut back on spending for their children’s hobbies due to the cost-of-living crisis.

At present, there is no national policy in Scotland which gives children and young people access to free leisure and activities. This is not the case internationally and there are examples that we can learn from, in particularly, from Nordic countries. Finland and Iceland both offer free access to hobbies for children and young people, following different models

Our policy work

Access to leisure and play is something Parenting across Scotland is passionate about and we aim to raise the profile of this throughout our work.

In 2023 our CEO, Amy Woodhouse, embarked on a trip to Iceland and Finland as part of her Churchill Fellowship, to investigate how these countries are working to increase children and young people’s access to hobbies. 

We have partnered with one of our members, Children in Scotland (CiS), to explore this topic further.

Amy wrote a blog post about access to hobbies for CiS here >