#TellTheUN – @JLindenMSYP, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament

August 31st, 2015

On Wednesday 2nd and Thursday 3rd September, the Vice Chairperson of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, Ms. Amal Aldoseri will visit Scotland to hear directly from Scotland’s children and young people about their experiences of life here in our country.

The visit will help the UN Committee with its consideration of how Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom are performing in relation to promoting and protecting the rights of children and young people as outlined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.Jordan Linden Chair

For me, this is an incredible opportunity for children and young people to have their voices heard loudly, clearly and directly by the United Nations about what they feel is working well, and what needs to be improved.

As the democratically elected voice of Scotland’s young people, Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People, Tam Baillie, has asked the Scottish Youth Parliament, and myself as the newly elected Chair along with our Board, to act as the key host for the duration of the visit, on behalf of Scotland’s children and young people.

At the Scottish Youth Parliament, our role is to represent and make strong links with the young people we represent locally. Therefore, during Ms Aldoseri’s visit we will be escorting her around a number of projects and discussion groups to showcase the fantastic work many organisations do to promote the rights and the participation of children and young people, but also to highlight the areas where we can work together to improve.

As part of the visit, wIMG_2192e want to make sure that young people across Scotland can get involved and feel like they are a part of Ms Aldoseri’s visit, wherever they may live in our country. That’s why we are encouraging young people across Scotland to tweet their questions, views or thoughts using #TellTheUN! During the course of the visit and afterwards, we’ll do our best to ensure as many of your views are conveyed to Amal as possible.
I feel incredibly proud and privileged that SYP has been asked to act as the host to Ms. Aldoseri during her visit – and the opportunity to once again work in partnership with organisations across Scotland who share our commitment to ensuring the rights of children and young people are promoted and protected is one which we relish.

So in closing, I’d really like to urge all young people to take the opportunity to share their views with Ms. Aldoseri during her visit so we can ensure that the genuine voices of young people are heard!

Remember, all you need to do is tweet using #TellTheUN!

 

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Scottish Youth Parliament achieves Investors in Young People Gold accreditation

July 23rd, 2015

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Scottish Youth Parliament achieves Investors in Young People Gold accreditation

Today, the Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP) achieved the Investors in Young People (IIYP) Gold accreditation. SYP is one of only six organisations in Scotland to have achieved the gold level accreditation, demonstrating its commitment to helping young people grow and develop in the workplace.

Introduced by Investors in People Scotland, IIYP is an accreditation scheme which helps organisations implement a nationally recognised framework helping them to engage and develop a talent pipeline for the future.  Working across the private, public and third sector, the framework provides advice, recommendations and best practice regarding the recruitment, employment and training of young workers.

The Scottish Youth Parliament first achieved the Investors in Young People accreditation in January 2015.

As a youth-led organisation, investing in young people and supporting them to achieve their full potential is at the heart of the Scottish Youth Parliament’s core values and vision.

Jordan Linden MSYP, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament, said: “I’m delighted that the Scottish Youth Parliament has become one of the first organisations in Scotland to achieve the gold level accreditation. We are totally committed to empowering Scotland’s young people, and supporting them to lead the way in shaping their own future.

“Employers across all sectors have a crucial role to play in supporting and empowering young people. I hope we will see more organisations in Scotland undertake this fantastic accreditation scheme.”

Peter Russian, Chief Executive of Investors in People Scotland, said “This is a fantastic achievement for the Scottish Youth Parliament, and I and the whole IIYP team would like to wholeheartedly congratulate them. The Investors in Young People framework not only recognises and supports organisations in the employment of young people, but marks them out as an employer of choice.

“The benefits of recruiting and developing young people are countless. These include the creation of a talent pool for the future, new and increased skills in areas such as IT and social media, fresh eyes and mind-sets into business operations along with enthusiasm and unique talents.”

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Youth Parliament launches biggest ever manifesto consultation

June 30th, 2015

 

 

 

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Scottish Youth Parliament Press Office

Today, the Scottish Youth Parliament launched its youth manifesto consultation, which seeks to gather the views of thousands of young people across Scotland to develop a national youth manifesto.

Former Chairs of the organisation, current and former members, and partner organisations gathered at an event in Scotland’s capital to mark SYP’s 16th Birthday, and celebrate the achievements of Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament throughout the years.

The manifesto consultation, entitled Lead the Way, offers Scotland’s young people and opportunity to be the driving force and shape the years ahead. Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament will be consulting with young people all over the country, about a wide range of policy issues, to establish the biggest youth manifesto ever produced in Scotland.

In 2011, the Scottish Youth Parliament published its 2011-2016 youth manifesto, Change the Picture, which saw around 43,000 young people share their views on a range of issues of importance to young people.

 

Jordan Linden MSYP, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament, said:

 

“As a youth-led organisation, our consultation work is at the very heart of everything we do and forms an invaluable part of our vision and values.”
“Young people must be at the heart of discussions about their future, leading conversations in their communities, schools, colleges, universities, and workplaces. Young people are not only the future of our country, they are the present. The purpose of today is very simple, we are asking the young people of Scotland to lead the way.”
“Our previous manifestos have given us the mandate to make significant changes in local and national policy, including ensuring 16 and 17 year olds could vote in the referendum and in the Scottish Parliament elections next year. I think it’s fitting that we celebrate these achievements today, but that we also look forward and ask ourselves what more we can do to empower young people to make significant change.”
“Through our manifesto consultation, we will ensure young people’s voices are heard. The views of Scotland’s young people underpin everything we do as an organisation, and our 2016-2021 youth manifesto will allow young people to truly lead the way in championing the issues that young people care about.”

 

Notes to editor

1. All media enquiries to Gareth Brown, Public Affairs Coordinator, 07753 410676/ 0131 524 0818, gareth.b@syp.org.uk

Scotland’s newly elected Youth Parliament calls on decision makers to tackle child poverty

June 23rd, 2015

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Newly elected young people from all over Scotland called on decision makers to combat poverty as they gathered in Renfrewshire for the Scottish Youth Parliament’s 57th National Sitting and AGM.

Nearly 160 Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYPs), who were elected in March 2015, attended the two day event, where they pledged to focus every effort on campaigning to combat poverty in Scotland by championing SYP’s national campaign, POVERTY: See It Change It.

The POVERTY: See It Change It campaign aims to: raise awareness among young people and wider society about child and youth poverty; combat popular negative stigmas and speak about the reality of poverty in Scotland; and, challenge elected leaders and key stakeholders to work together to end child poverty by 2020.

More than one in five of Scotland’s children are considered to be living in poverty. This is much higher than in many other European countries.[1]

In 1999, the UK Government made the commitment to tackle child poverty in the nation by 2020. The UK Child Poverty Act 2010 made this commitment into law. With only 5 years to go until 2020, the Scottish Youth Parliament hopes its campaign will send the message that now is the time to seriously act.

Since the campaign launched in January 2015, the previous membership of SYP has been hard at work raising the profile of the campaign, and gathering the views of children and young people across Scotland on poverty. This work has led to the creation of a word cloud graphic, which shows what children and young people across Scotland think about poverty and where they want to see change.

In autumn 2015, the Scottish Youth Parliament will publish research which explores how children and young people view poverty and what impact they believe it has. Almost 1,000 young people aged 11-25 were surveyed by SYP. Interim findings from the research show that young people are aware of the detrimental impact poverty has, and believe that tackling poverty should be a priority for the Scottish Government.

Ahead of the Scottish Parliamentary elections in 2016, Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament will be encouraging elected officials and parliamentary candidates to pledge their individual commitment to making tackling poverty in Scotland their priority.

Speaking about the progress of the campaign so far, Jordan Linden MSYP, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament, said:

“It is unacceptable that one in five of our children and young people in Scotland live in poverty. Many young people in Scotland are simply robbed of their childhood. They are robbed of the opportunity to use their passion and talents to create a better and more prosperous future for themselves.

“Now that the General Election has passed and the political parties in Scotland continue to prepare for the Scottish Parliamentary elections in 2016, the Scottish Youth Parliament will urge all elected representatives and parliamentary candidates to publicly pledge their commitment to combatting poverty in Scotland.

“Our campaign efforts so far have shown that Scotland’s young people want to see change. Young people have told us there is a need for improvement and support across a range of issues throughout Scotland, such as education, access to work experience and opportunities, fairness and equality, and paying a living wage. There can be no doubt that combatting poverty is something young people from every constituency across Scotland want to see be made a priority by every elected representative.

“This issue transcends party politics and goes to the very heart of who we are, and who we want to be as a nation. By working together, we can strive to ensure elected leaders uphold the commitment to tackle child poverty in Scotland and the UK by the year 2020. With five years to go, now is the time to seriously act.”

[1] Barnardo’s UK. What Causes Child Poverty? http://www.barnardos.org.uk/what_we_do/our_work/ child_poverty/child_poverty_what_is_poverty/what_causes_child_poverty.htm

 

SYP Chair welcomes the Scottish Parliament’s passing of the Scottish Elections (Reduction of Voting Age) Bill

June 19th, 2015

Scottish Youth Parliament Press Office

Jordan Linden Chair

Jordan Linden MSYP, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament welcomes the Scottish Parliament’s passing of the Scottish Elections (Reduction of Voting Age) Bill.

Jordan said:

“I am absolutely delighted that MSPs have unanimously supported lowering the voting age to 16 in time for the next Scottish Parliament elections through the Scottish Elections (Reduction of Voting Age) Bill. I believe this will have a hugely positive impact on the overall levels of engagement.

“The young people of Scotland proved, through their engagement in the referendum process, that they take their right to vote very seriously, and they have collectively dispelled all of the myths and arguments against a lowered voting age.

“I’m proud that young people’s enthusiasm and passion has been recognised, and that as a nation, we acknowledge that we should be encouraging young people to engage with politics and shape their own future by using their right to participate in democracy.

“As a result of this bill, more young people will get involved in the political system, and from an earlier age. Votes at 16 will help us truly harness young people’s enthusiasm for politics. We can strive to create a voter generation because we will be able to engage people younger, and keep them engaged throughout their lives, we hope, in the political system.

“As the democratically elected voice of Scotland’s young people, the Scottish Youth Parliament has always known that 16-and 17-year-olds are capable of making informed decisions when it comes to voting, and we have been campaigning for Votes at 16 since the start of our organisation in 1999. I hope that the passing of the Scottish Elections (Reduction of Voting Age) Bill will lead the way in encouraging votes at 16 in all UK elections and referendums.”

Scottish Youth Parliament elects new young leaders

June 17th, 2015

Scottish Youth Parliament Press Office 

Scottish Youth Parliament elects new young leaders

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Elected young people gathered in Renfrewshire last weekend for the first National Sitting of the Scottish Youth Parliament’s new membership, where the new young leaders of the organisation were elected.

On Sunday 14th June 2015, Jordan Linden, MSYP for Uddingston and Bellshill, was elected as the Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP) at the SYP’s 57th Annual Sitting and Annual General Meeting in Renfrewshire.

Katie Burke, MSYP for North East Fife, was elected as the Vice Chair of the SYP, and the Membership also elected four new Trustees: Amy Lee Frioli MSYP for Rutherglen, Thomas Mair MSYP for Coatbridge and Chryston, Ewan McCall MSYP for Kilmarnock and Irvine Valley, and Robbie Nicoll MSYP for Angus North and Mearns.

The Scottish Youth Parliament is the democratically elected voice of Scotland’s young people. Nearly 160 Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYPs), who are elected every two years, meet three times a year at National Sittings to debate policy, select campaign priorities, and host events with stakeholders and other guests.

At the Sitting, Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament elected the new Board of Trustees and Committee Conveners, who will lead the SYP over the next year. As a youth-led organisation, the AGM is a hugely significant occasion which forms the foundation of the SYP’s core values and structure, truly empowering Scotland’s young people.

Jordan Linden MSYP, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament, said: “It is the privilege of my life to have been elected as the Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament. I would like to congratulate everyone who stood for election at our AGM this weekend. We have a fantastic and vibrant membership. It is a privilege to work with such inspiring colleagues who are all committed to making the voices of Scotland’s young people heard.

“We have very exciting times ahead of us and lots of hard work. I look forward to working with my fellow MSYPs to build on the organisation’s success, and lead the way towards a fairer, more equal Scotland for all.”

SYP57 Closing Remarks – Jordan Linden MSYP, SYP Chair 2015-16 @JLindenMSYP

June 16th, 2015

SYP57 Closing Remarks

Jordan Linden MSYP, SYP Chair 2015-16
@JLindenMSYP

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Good afternoon MSYPs and welcome back.

Can I begin by saying that it is the privilege of my life to be elected as the new Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament and I look forward to working with the new Vice Chair, Katie Burke, and Board Members: Robbie Nicoll, Amy Lee Frioli, Thomas Mair, and Ewan McCall.

Can I also say a huge congratulations to each of the Committee Conveners and Deputy Conveners who have also been elected. We all wish them well in their roles.

I want to reflect, if you will indulge me for just a moment, on my fellow candidate Terri Smith. Terri is not only a friend for life, but has been a committed MSYP since she began to get involved with SYP. I know that she is committed to improving and changing this organisation, just like each of you. I thank her for the support she has given me and the love and friendship she has shown me too.

I also want, if you all don’t mind, to say a few words about Louise Cameron, the outgoing Chair of SYP. Louise was the first democratically elected female Chair and what an incredible Chair she has been. Leadership, strength, and passion come easily to her, and I feel so privileged to have known her during my time as an MSYP. If there is one thing that is for certain, we have not heard the last from Louise Cameron and I’m sure she will continue to do amazing things. So thank you!

****DRUMROLL PLEASE***

We are delighted to announce that the 58th National Sitting of SYP, #SYP58, will be held in East Renfrewshire on the 24th and 25th October 2015. More information will be sent out soon, but please put the date in your diary now. We look forward to seeing you then.

Now to some very important thank yous,

I want to thank Louise Cameron our outgoing Chair, Terri Smith our outgoing Vice Chair, and all of the Board for all their hard work over the last year. Please give them a HUGE round of applause.

We couldn’t be here without our amazing Support Workers and Local Authority Staff who have supported the 2013-2015 Membership, and who will continue to support us as we move into the 2015-2017 term. Without them, SYP would not be able to work as effectively as it does. Please give them a huge round of applause.

I would also like to thank to David Clark, outgoing Deputy Chief Executive of the British Youth Council, for all of his many years of support to this organisation. We wish him all of the very best as he moves onto his new role as Head of Engagement with the UK Parliament.

To our hosts, I would like to say thank you to Renfrewshire Council, and particularly John and Paul for all of their hard work in making this weekend a success and giving us the best karaoke ever!

Penultimate thanks go to the people who helped make this all happen and work very much in the background at times, the SYP Staff Team: Ben, Gareth, Jamie, Rebecca, Claire, Calum, Rhiannon, Steph, and of course Rosy, who helped make it all happen and possible.

A big applause please!

Yesterday, Louise asked that each of you go home and write on a piece of paper about what SYP means to you and why you got involved.

I did. I got involved in SYP because I was a young person who didn’t have a voice when I was younger. I experienced bullying at times, and I wanted to make sure that young people across Scotland, and in particular in my area, never experienced this or felt that they too did not have a voice. I urge you to please go home and write your reason down and when times are tough, or when there’s difficult choices, reflect on your message and it’ll be sure to make you smile.

I want to reflect on the task ahead. I look forward to working with not my Board, but your Board, to deliver for you. Working with our new Chief Executive, Ben McKendrick, the SYP Staff Team, and of course MSYPs and Support Workers. We have the potential to deliver that vision for 70,000 manifesto responses.

So all that is left to say is thank you all for your passion and enthusiasm over the course of the weekend, and to say once again that it is an honour and pleasure to be your new Chair.

Now it is down to the hard work with me as your Chair, along with our Vice Chair and Trustees, and of course all of you. Let’s get out there, get consulting, and lead the way.

 

Jordan Linden MSYP

Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament

Closing Speech to SYP57 – Louise Cameron MSYP, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament

June 13th, 2015

 

 

 

Good afternoon everyone,

What a jam packed day it’s been here today!

I really hope it has given you all a taste of the two years ahead and that you are excited about getting stuck into all of the amazing opportunities that await you to make a real difference for Scotland’s young people.

I would like to use my last speech as Chair to reflect on what SYP and being an MSYP really means, and reflect on my last four years as an MSYP, and two years as Vice Chair and Chair.

It pretty simple really, but in its simplicity lies the reason why our organisation, and your role within it are so special.

It’s about you… it is a little about politics, but it really is mostly about you. And not just you, everyone in this room. Together.

We always say here that you get out of SYP what you put into it, and it couldn’t be more true.

Our organisation, and your role as an MSYP, will be what you make it. The harder you work individually and collectively, the more opportunities arise, and more you learn, develop and succeed.

It is not just about the work though, it is also about the amazing memories you make along the way. The best thing to do is throw yourself in at the deep end and take every opportunity that comes your way.

We have a fantastic team who will support you every step of the way throughout your time as an MSYP and your fellow members are a fantastic support network.

You will make friends here that might become some of your closest friends. I think it is so special to be able to meet so many other people who have the same passion and motivations as you and it really inspires you to go and do even more when you see just what can be achieved, sometimes against all the odds, when you work as a group.

SYP changes you as a person. It allows you the space to grow, be comfortable with who you are and get to know yourself.

SYP provides you an opportunity to shape our country for years to come; to make the lives, prospects and future destinations of our young people the best they can be.

We are the voice for all young people in Scotland. You have all been elected into this role by young people who believe in you. They believe that you are the ones who can help push for what is needed and can meaningfully represent them.

It is important that you take on this duty understanding the faith that has been put in you. With all the wonderful opportunities, experiences and fun that come with the Scottish Youth Parliament, you have a responsibility to do your best by those who have elected you.

There will be challenges and obstacles along the way but the feeling of success when you achieve something which genuinely makes a difference to the lives of other young people is the most rewarding feeling.

Be resilient! When things aren’t easy, do your best! That is all anyone can ask. Our staff team and your support workers are always there to be support you during these times.

I want to take a moment to talk about two very important values we have here at SYP. Respect and Equality. These values underpin everything we do.

We value the input and contributions from all our MSYPs, the other young people with whom we will engage with, our staff team, our support workers. Everyone has unique talents, their own experiences and background. We want to harness that diversity.

As a fundamentally rights based organisation, we have a duty to promote the wellbeing of all our young people, ensuring that our youth parliament truly is a safe space where everyone is valued and encouraged to fulfil their potential.

Respect and equality are our first and founding principles. They prevail over all else, and we must work together to ensure that remains the case.

That doesn’t mean that you are not entitled to have your own views, or disagree with other people, or even challenge the organisation to do more. In fact, it’s the opposite. These things are vital for the health of any democracy and any democratic organisation.

However, the whole point of democracy is that everyone is entitled to respectfully communicate their views, and on an equal basis. Make your contributions constructive and positive.

If respect and equality are not values that your share with the same strength as we do, then I am afraid that this is not the organisation for you.

Looking to the future, the manifesto will be a huge challenge for you all to prove what this membership is made of. I can’t wait to see you smash the previous number of responses.

You are one of the few and lucky memberships that will have the opportunity to shape and launch a youth manifesto. “Lead the way”, which you heard about earlier today, is the defining piece of work for our organisation for the next five years. It will fundamentally shape our successes and work we do over that period.

Our credibility and success as an organisation depend on how well we engage with young people. The number of responses from young people we can get to this manifesto consultation, the more credibility we have to ensure decision makers listen to us.

My challenge to you is to make “Lead the way” your priority until the next Sitting and get as many responses as you possibly can.

I would like to say what an honour it has been to serve as Chair, Vice Chair, Convener and MSYP over the last four years.

This organisation has been, and will continue to be, a huge and special part of my life and although this year has probably been the hardest year of my life, and there were times I thought I was losing my sanity, it really has been the most amazing experience and I have loved it.

I have been fortunate enough to preside as Chair whilst our organisation has achieved some of the most amazing things; making substantial changes to improve the lives of young carers; ensuring votes at 16 was included in the Smith Commission Agreement and will now be a reality for the Scottish Parliament elections; launching our first major piece of research; growing our media and social media profile significantly; getting the most number of votes ever cast in an SYP national election.

It truly has been amazing, and I am so grateful to have been able to be a part of it.

This organisation truly allows young people to have their say and get the opportunity to speak honestly and passionately about what they believe in. I could not think of anything more valuable than giving people a voice and that is what we do.

I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has trusted me to lead as Chair, supported me to get things done and believed in me to represent Scotland’s young people.

Thank you to my wonderful board – Nairn, David, Rachael and Terri. You have all been a joy to work with, and have worked incredibly hard!

To my fantastic staff team, I am so proud to have each and every one of you working for SYP and you are all amazing at the jobs you do. You all work day in day out giving 110% and you really are the best staff team in the world.

I would also like to mention Hamira who, although has now left us, was a huge support and inspiration to me throughout my time as Chair. Hamira was an incredible Chief Executive and really made the organisation what it is now. If it wasn’t for her, SYP wouldn’t be nearly as successful as it is. I can’t wait for everyone to meet Ben, our new Chief Executive, and I am excited for the new direction and inspiration he will bring to the organisation.

The most important thing you can realise and understand during your time in the organisation is why you are doing it all.

You should all write on a piece of paper when you go home tomorrow about why you joined SYP and, whenever things seem tough, go and read it and it will remind you why you try so hard, and why it is worth it.

Most of the people in this room will be here trying to make life better for other people, and what an incredible and inspiring reason that is to be here.

Whenever you feel like something seems impossible, it’s not. Just tell yourself – I can make it happen – and you will.

With enough determination, a membership is a force to be reckoned with, and I believe that you will bring our wonderful organisation onto bigger and better things.

Together, and only together, we will continue to change our communities, regions and our country, giving young people everywhere a voice and keeping Scotland a place where young people’s views are valued and heard.

Thank you.

Newly elected youth parliament descends on Renfrewshire

June 11th, 2015

Newly elected youth parliament descends on Renfrewshire

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This weekend, the Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP) will host its 57th Annual Sitting and Annual General Meeting in Renfrewshire.

Elected young people from all over Scotland will gather at Park Mains High School for what will be their first national Sitting as the newly elected membership of the Scottish Youth Parliament, following the recent SYP national elections which took place in March 2015, where a record number of votes were cast.

The Scottish Youth Parliament is the democratically elected voice of Scotland’s young people. Nearly 160 Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYPs), who are elected every two years, meet three times a year at National Sittings to debate policy, select campaign priorities, and host events with stakeholders and other guests.

This Sitting is a key event for the SYP as this is when the full Membership of the organisation will elect the new Board of Trustees and Committee Conveners, who will then lead the organisation over the next year. As a youth-led organisation, the AGM is a hugely significant occasion which forms the foundation of the SYP’s core values and structure, truly empowering Scotland’s young people.

Louise Cameron MSYP is the current Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament. Following four years as an MSYP, Louise chose not to re-stand for election in 2015. Speaking ahead of the first Sitting of the 2015 membership, Louise said:

“I’m delighted that SYP will be in Renfrewshire for its 2015 AGM. This Sitting is one of the most important as we not only continue our important debates, training, and activities, but we elect our new Board of Trustees and Committee Conveners. As SYP is a youth-led organisation, these are the young people who will lead SYP for the next year.

“It has been so special being the Chair of such an outstanding organisation throughout such a momentous time in Scotland’s history. SYP has changed my life for the better, and I have gained so much from being a part of it, as well as feeling like I have made a positive difference for Scotland’s young people.

“Being an MSYP is a truly life-changing experience, and I would like to encourage the new membership to embrace every opportunity during their term. I am confident the new MSYPs will continue to build on the organisation’s success, and lead the way towards a fairer, more equal Scotland for young people.”

Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan said: “Renfrewshire is pleased to be hosting the first National Sitting for the newly-elected MSYPs and I am sure the MSYPs are eager to get started on their first campaign – POVERTY: See It Change It.

“Tackling poverty is one of this council’s top priorities. We initiated the Renfrewshire Tackling Poverty Commission – the first of its kind in Scotland – because we wanted a fresh and independent approach to how we can break the poverty cycle. The Commission left a legacy of recommendations. Our ring-fenced poverty fund of £6m will help to deliver these and we’re finalising ambitious plans that will be implemented in coming months. I firmly believe this will make a real difference.

“I welcome tackling poverty being the focus of the Youth Parliament and look forward to working with our MSYPs on this issue – which is absolutely crucial to the life chances of future generations.”

Mark Dougan, MSYP-elect for Renfrewshire North West, said: “I’m really looking forward to the National Sitting and it is even more special because it takes place in my home town.

“Our next big campaign is POVERTY: See It Change It and I know this is one thing that many young people are concerned about. With one in five young people living in poverty in Scotland, I am hoping that we can get decision makers to listen to us and make a difference so no one has to live like that.”

Nairn McDonald MSYP speaks to Neil Mathers, Save the Children’s Head of Scotland, about the importance of child literacy in tackling poverty

June 3rd, 2015

 

Nairn

Last week, I had the great honour of speaking to Neil Mathers, Save the Children’s Head of Scotland, about their latest campaign, Read On Get On, which aims to promote and encourage child literacy, and also SYP’s current campaign POVERTY: See It Change It.

Save The Children’s Read On Get On campaign aims to have all children able to read well by the age of 11, and looks at three specific aspects to achieve this: policy, attitudes, and behaviours. To support the campaign, the challenge is to promote and encourage ten minutes reading a day, but the important aspect is that it must be for enjoyment.

I spoke to Neil in depth about the relationship between poverty and literacy levels, and we discussed very interesting and important points. A child growing up in a socio-economically deprived area is much more likely not to be able to read well by the age of 11 (or primary 7 level). The impact of this doesn’t just extend to the educational aspects one might immediately consider. As children, we pick up much of our vocabulary from what we read, but more importantly, what we read and are actually able to comprehend. So a child that doesn’t have those literacy skills may find the social aspects of life difficult. Crucially, we mustn’t forget the importance of comprehension in literacy: a child could be a very competent reader, i.e they can recognise sounds and patterns and read the words, but if they don’t understand the words, the process is defunct.

When speaking about the impact literacy has on later life, it can be severe – children not reading well by age 11 can be playing catch up for the rest of their lives. We know from current research that children living in poverty often preform worse in school than their peers. We also know that many link poverty and eduction together, believing that a good and comprehensive education could be an effective way to tackle poverty by providing children and young people with the skills to escape what can seem like the never ending poverty cycle.

We also spoke about the part teachers can play. In current times, it is common place for a teacher to set homework by saying; “Go online and research this topic or play this game etc.” Now to may of us, this would be simple: we would go home and do it, but for a young person living in poverty, who doesn’t have access to internet or a computer, this can be a difficult challenge. As Neil said, the occasional time where the child needs to find a friend’s computer to use or go to the library isn’t a huge deal, but we both agreed that when it starts being once a week or more it becomes a penalising factor. The same goes for basic materials, never mind trips or additional costs. We need stop penalising children in schools for not having the required resources, and failing to recognise that maybe buying these resources would mean a cut somewhere else in that week’s budget.

Nairn1When I asked Neil about the political interest in tackling poverty, he said that in their experience in Scotland, it was very much at the top of our political agenda thanks to the work of all our partners and our own campaigns. However, the story couldn’t be more different at a UK level. Neil said it was a “tough job” to keep it at the top of Westminster’s agenda.

Neil then gave a message of support for our campaign saying: “It’s vital that organisations like Save the Children and the Scottish Youth Parliament, and also young people in general, draw attention to the huge impact of poverty, but also the factors that cause poverty so that we can try to stop the future young people from suffering the effects of poverty.”

I would like to urge all MSYPs and young people to get behind Save the Nairn2Children’s campaign to get all young people and children to read for at least 10 minutes a day. Take some quirky pictures like I have, and encourage everyone you know to read more and to support others to read more too. I have always enjoyed reading. It offers me an escape from the world around me and allows me to feel free even in the most stressful situations. From Dickens to Clinton, from Clinton to Shakespeare, you would be hard pressed to find an author that I couldn’t find a book I like from. My love of reading is as much to do with circumstance as it is personal choice. My nana is a huge reader and she watched me a lot when I was young when both my parents were working, so reading was drummed into me at an early stage, and I thank her for it now.

To end, I want to quote the best singer of all time and one of my favourite artists, Frank Sinatra, and nicely summarise what I have for Save the Children and SYP’s individual campaigns: “He’s got high hopes, he’s got high hopes, he’s got high apple pie in the sky hopes.”

Nairn McDonald MSYP