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23 January 2015

POVERTY: See it Change it campaign launch

Louise Cameron MSYP

One in five children in Scotland lives in poverty. We are one of the most prosperous nations in the world and we allow one in five of our children, which is much higher than many other European countries, to live in poverty.

Today, we are all here because we all agree that this not acceptable. It has to change.

I would like to start by welcoming you all here to the Fuse Youth Cafe in Shettleston. Fuse Youth Café is a charity that works to provide a variety of services to young people in the area. The area has a high level of deprivation and the young people face many risks and challenges associated with areas of high deprivation. Fuse offers a safe place for young people with a café area, gig space and internet café.

The activities and resources they make available are always evolving to meet the needs and requests of young people. The building of positive relationships between Fuse members and youth workers is pivotal to successfully developing the confidence, social and employability skills of the young people that use this service.

The national focus for young people in Scotland is on developing services to enable young people to become confident individuals, successful learners, effective contributors and responsible citizens. These four capacities are fully supported by Fuse’s mission and strategic objectives with their focus on early intervention and underpin our approach to youth work.

The Scottish Youth Parliament is delighted to be able to launch our campaign in this fantastic youth work service. Like Fuse, we share the ambition for young people in Scotland to be provided with the opportunities to use their passion, talent and determination to build a prosperous future for themselves. Thank you to Fuse for having us today.

Before I talk a little more about the campaign and SYP, I would like to share a personal story with you. I think it outlines why this campaign is important to me.

The Glasgow Children’s Holiday Scheme is a project that I was brought up with when I was younger. It involved giving a child or young person who lived in poverty, in the very city we are in now, a holiday for a week in a home in a different part of Scotland.

The project aimed to give these young people a different life for a week. It gave them a break, and a positive experience. It gave them proper meals. It gave them a different outlook on life rather than the scenes they were used to seeing every day.

The only problem with was, it was only for a week before they go back to the life they had before. These children and young people deserve more than a week of a better life, they deserve a brighter future, a safe environment and a basic, sustainable, standard of living.

From engaging with this project, I learned about the importance of hope. I also learned that many children and young people have to be tough and endure some very difficult times.

The young people who stayed with us often had to do things like the shopping, picking up prescriptions for parents, getting themselves ready for school and cooking their own food, things that many of us are fortunate enough to not have to do as young people.

Life for many young people living in deprivation is very different from the life many of the rest of us know. It isn’t just a life deprived of a basic of standard of living, it’s a life deprived of hope and a feeling that they can create a better life for themselves.

This is no way to grow up, and if we want Scotland to be the best place in the world to grow up, a vision that all of us here today share, then this has to stop.

The Scottish Youth Parliament is the democratically elected voice of Scotland’s young people. Our MSYPs chose this campaign because that is what our constituents have been telling us that we need to do.

The young people of Scotland are demanding that we do better, that we be more ambitious, that we strive for more progress. I couldn’t think of a more important priority and a more important campaign for the Scottish Youth Parliament to focus on.

I am also delighted to welcome MSPs and MPs from across the political spectrum here today. I think we are all in agreement that this issue transcends party politics. It is an issue that goes to the core of who we are as a nation, and who we want to be going forward. My challenge to you today is to join us and do more. Speak to your colleagues in Parliament in Edinburgh and London, push them to do more. Work with our MSYPs in your local areas. Together, let’s do more.

I am also pleased to welcome colleagues from many partner organisations across the sector who have been working on this issue for many years, and will continue to do so. At the Scottish Youth Parliament, we place significant value on partnership working, and we are delighted to have you on board.

The hashtag for today’s launch event is #seeitchangeit! I would really urge you to engage with us online throughout the course of this morning.