70,000 votes cast in Scottish Youth Parliament National Elections

April 21st, 2015

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Nearly 70,000 young people from all over Scotland have voted to elect their local Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYPs) in the 2015 Scottish Youth Parliament national elections.

Following almost three months of campaigning from young candidates across Scotland, young people aged 12-25 were asked to cast their vote to elect their local MSYP. Young people were able to cast their vote by submitting a paper ballot or using the secure e-Voting platform facilitated by Young Scot, depending on the method chosen by their local authority.

The elections were open for two weeks and held between Monday 2nd and Friday 13th March 2015. The results were announced at a series of events held by individual local authorities between Friday 13th March and Wednesday 25th March 2015, where many of the local authority Chief Executives acted as Returning Officers.

A full list of the newly elected Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament can be found www.syp.org.uk/elections. The newly elected MSYPs will take up office at the Scottish Youth Parliament’s National Sitting in June 2015.

The Scottish Youth Parliament is the democratically elected voice of Scotland’s young people. It provides a national platform for young people to discuss issues important to them and affect the change they wish to see.

Speaking after the 2015 SYP election results, Louise Cameron MSYP, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament, said:

“I’m delighted to announce that a record turnout of 70,000 young people made their voices heard by casting their vote in the Scottish Youth Parliament’s 2015 national elections.

“Over the past few months, we’ve witnessed fantastic campaigning taking place all over the country, with passionate debates and hustings inspiring Scotland’s young people to get involved in the democratic process by voting in the Scottish Youth Parliament elections. It has been a truly extraordinary journey, and the success of the elections is a real testament to the commitment and enthusiasm of young people to further their involvement in political decision making and ensure their voices are at the forefront of shaping society. I’d like to congratulate all of the candidates, and wish the best of luck to the newly elected MSYPs.

“Through our work at the Scottish Youth Parliament, we know that young people engage with and are interested in issue-based politics. Young people want to have their say about the issues that affect their lives, but often the focus on negative party politics is off-putting for young people and leads to disengagement.

“For me, engaging young voters is a priority that transcends party politics, and I hope the success of the Scottish Youth Parliament elections will help to encourage politicians to put the party politics to one side and harness young people’s enthusiasm for politics by focusing on the issues and discussions that matter to them.”

Vice Chair Update March 2015 – @3TERRISMITH

April 8th, 2015

Hello everyone; it’s just me again.

We are now at the end of what I have been calling ‘manic March.’ Last month, we saw the 2015 Scottish Youth Parliament national elections come to an almighty end. We all attended the Scottish Youth Parliament’s 56th National Sitting in the capital city, Edinburgh. As well as this, we got dressed to the nines for the ever so fantastic annual SYP Awards ceremony, which took place at Edinburgh Zoo this year. This month, I’ve now totally given up on watching TV, partly because I’ve not had the time, but also because there is nothing remotely exciting to watch.

It’s now officially British summer time (or in Scotland, extended winter), Mother’s Day has been and gone, and Easter is fast-approaching. I hope you all have an enjoyable April, and I hope you didn’t overdo the April Fools’ Day pranks (I certainly did not), and don’t eat too much chocolate.

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What has your Vice Chair been up to?

Nationally 
At the beginning of the month, I went down to London to represent Scotland at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Celebration Day of a ‘Young Commonwealth’ with Louise Cameron MSYP, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament. This was a fantastic event where I met young people from all over the Commonwealth and had the opportunity to speak to ambassadors from around the world. At the Sitting in Edinburgh, I made my last and ever-so-emotional Vice Chair speech to all of you, which I hope you enjoyed. I had the pleasure of attending and presenting an award at the SYP Awards ceremony. Last week, I went up to Inverness with five other MSYPs and I co-chaired the Children and Young People’s Summit with the Scottish Government, young people, and Children in Scotland. The event was attended Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon MSP, and her Cabinet, who I believe thoroughly enjoyed the event. Lastly, I attended the We-CTV Awards Ceremony in Glasgow, which was a unique experience to showcase the creativity and talents of Scotland’s young people, as well as emphasise the importance of tackling interpersonal violence.

Locally 
I was proud to tune in online to watch the City of Edinburgh Council’s last full meeting, where they debated and unanimously supported a motion in support of the Scottish Youth Parliament’s campaign for 2015, POVERTY: See It Change It, as well as pledging to do more to combat child and youth poverty. Apart from that, it’s been fairly quietly locally while the national elections have been in full swing. I would like to take a minute to say a special well done to all the young people in Edinburgh who took part in the #SYPElex.

 

Terri’s Corner

“Things do not get better by chance, they get better by change.” I don’t know where this quote originates from, but it comes with a story attached.  Over the last few weeks, I haven’t been myself and someone was kind enough to remind me that I had written this quote in my 2011 SYP Manifesto. I think it has a very poignant meaning and reflects our organisation, which we all love and cherish well.

Jokes

I had so many jokes sent me this time that I found it hard to choose the best ones, but thank you as always.

Best Board Joke
Nairn McDonald MSYP – Can February March? No but April May.

Best Conveners Group Joke
Nancy Russell MSYP – I used to think there was an ocean of fizzy juice – but it was a fanta sea.

Best Procedures Group Joke
Robbie Nicoll MSYP – What do you call a security guard at a Samsung store? Guardian of the Galaxy.

Best MSYP Joke
Denzel Darku MSYP – Who is the best and most good looking guy at the hospital? The ultra-sound guy.

Shoutouts

Kirsty McCahill MSYP – Congratulations on your election as Chair of South Aryshire Youth Forum.

Kayleigh Finnigan MSYP – Congratulations on your election as Chair of North Lanarkshire Youth Council.

Big shoutout to the We-CTV Champions for their work and commitment to the project, but in particular, well done to Melissa Gorman MSYP, Martyna Napiereska MSYP, Thomas McEachan MSYP, and Rachael McCully MSYP, for their enthusiasm at the award ceremony last week – “popcorn anyone.”

I’d finally like to give a huge shout out to the winners from the #SYPAawards15 – you highlighted just how much MSYPs go above and beyond what is expected of them, and every one was a worthy winner and true ambassador to the young people of Scotland.

 

Mini Staff Interview  

The staff interview for this month is with Hamira Khan, who is sadly leaving SYP in just over one week. For anyone who doesn’t know, this ever-so fabulous lady is the Chief Executive of the Scottish Youth Parliament and has been working with us since August 2010.

1) How would you describe your time at SYP?  

I’ve had the privilege to work with 3 sets of membership over my (nearly) 5 years at SYP. My time here has been inspiring, fun, often challenging, and occasionally infuriating – exactly the right mix as far as I’m concerned! A key trait of my work has been the people I’ve had the privilege to work with, inc. MSYPs past and present, Support Workers, the SYP staff team and partner organisations. All of whom have been greatly passionate about what they do and a joy to be around.

2) What is your favourite quote and why?  

I really love this question because if you ask anyone in the office, they’ll tell you I’m always sharing quotes or taking pics of good quotes and saving them for when I need an inspirational top-up.

My favourite quote is by the American author and poet Maya Angelou:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

3) What is your favourite thing about Scotland and why?  

Definitely the people; they’re absolutely hilarious. So funny, cheeky and borderline inappropriate, and we always get away with it just because we’re Scottish. I’ve also noticed that wherever you travel in the world everyone loves it when you say you’re from Scotland, because they know we’re hard working people, we’re polite but forthright and honest. We’ll say what we mean. We’re brave, stubborn, and courageous, but most importantly we’re practical and down-to-earth. I think we’re a nation of very grounded and matter-of-fact people, who don’t like pretenses or ‘fake-ness’. I’m moving abroad with my new job, but Scotland will always be my home and I’ll forever champion Scottish people and Scottish culture.

4) What do you like to do in your spare time?  
The week is always about work and luckily I have a husband who understands and respects the fact I am career driven and love my job. I get home very late during the week and normally have a catch up with Ali about our day, watch some news and potter around before bed and getting up early again for my daily commute. So at the weekends when I have spare time, I cherish them enormously and for me my weekend (unless it’s a Sitting!) is all about family and food.

A typical weekend would be going out for breakfast in the West End of Glasgow where I live, followed by a walk and lots of fresh air (or if it’s raining watching a DVD whilst lazing around indoors). I’m currently on House of Cards, or my secret fixation – Come Dine with Me (don’t judge!). In the evening we always have plans with family or friends, which is normally dinner somewhere nice with lots of good conversation and sharing stories.

Generally speaking in my spare time I’m quite into Bikram Yoga, cooking and I love a bit of interior design. I’ve always got a ‘project’ on the go at home. Currently I’m making my own seating booth in the kitchen. Will share pics when it’s finally ready :)

5) Do you have any advice for our MSYPs?

Put yourself forward for opportunities. Don’t wait for the ‘right time’ – go for it. Be courageous. Always be polite to others around you. Listen with the intent to understand. Most people listen with the intent to reply. Surround yourself with positive people who will continue to motivate and inspire you. Be kinder to yourself – you’re brilliant and if you don’t believe it, then who else will? Always challenge yourself to do more and do better. And of course there’s going to be days when you’re feeling down – but what you need to do is just pick yourself up and carry on and keep going and going – until you get to where you want to be and you achieve those goals you set out to achieve. Nothing’s going to land on your doorstep; you must go out and get it and live that dream.

 

Final thoughts 

MSYPs have shared their thoughts on the Children and Young People’s Summit in Inverness:

Jordan Linden MSYP – “The opportunity to engage with young people and to hear their views on the important issues facing Scotland today in the presence of the First Minister and her Cabinet was a privilege. I hope that they listen to the amazing views and take them forward in their actions.”

Nicola Bruley MSYP – “Inspiring to see young people be engaged with the people who make the decisions of our country.”

MSYPs’ thoughts on #SYP56:

John Thain MSYP – “A fabulous way to end a fabulous two years”

Luke McLeod MSYP – “It was a momentous way to end a Membership which has had highs and lows for every member! It was a great end of an era for Hamira, and I wish all the MSYPs leaving us a bright and prosperous future.”

Reminders
The Procedures Group are going to close their consultation survey on Subject Committees soon, so make sure you have your say.

That’s all from me for March. I hope you all enjoyed this month as much as I did, and I look toward to hearing what you get up to in coming weeks. In the meantime, any questions, queries, or of course banter, send it my way.
 

Terri Smith MSYP
Vice Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament
@3terrismith 

POVERTY: See It Change It – Joshua McCormick MSYP meets with Tam Baillie, Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People

March 23rd, 2015

From the organisation that brought you Care.Fair.Share., Love Equally, and One Fair Wage, the Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP) is now leading another important campaign for Scotland’s young people since Votes at 16: POVERTY: See It Change It. This is a campaign aiming to raise awareness amongst young people about child and youth poverty, highlight young people’s rights to an adequate standard of living, combat popular stigma associated with poverty, and finally, challenge elected leaders and key stakeholders to work together to uphold the UK-wide commitment to tackle child poverty by 2020.

As member of the Scottish Youth Parliament for Cunninghame South, I have seen poverty first-hand and witnessed the detrimental effect it has on young people and their opportunities in life. The cycle of poverty is the number one cause of North Ayrshire’s struggle to give its children and young people the best start in life, and that is why I fully support SYP’s campaign. I hope we can make elected representatives and key stakeholders sit up and listen to what young people have to say on this issue.

SYP_Poverty_Logo_FINALIn politics, difficult issues like poverty don’t get fixed unless a dialogue is started and that’s what this blog is about. I was lucky enough to meet with Tam Baillie, Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People, recently to discuss the issues surrounding child and youth poverty and hear his thoughts on the situation.

When I spoke to the Commissioner about the work SYP is involved in through the campaign, he remarked on the need for safe spaces to be created so young people could come forward and speak openly about their experiences with poverty and the stigma which surrounds it. Tam emphasised to me during our discussion that when we consider poverty, we must also consider the impact upon an individual’s rights. There is clear evidence to show that young people living in poverty are negatively impacted; it affects their rights to grow up well; their access to education and employment; and a healthy life free of mental health risks. During the discussion, the Commissioner also raised the point about his office’s recent report on young people’s views on education and poverty which led to the Scottish Government taking direct action to support things like cost of school uniforms and school trips.

Finally, when the conversation was coming to a close, I asked Tam what he thought about the campaign SYP had taken on. He said, “The SYP are giving young people a real voice, a real opportunity to influence and change the way things are. Keep up the pressure!” Tam’s words inspired me and ring true – the Scottish Youth Parliament is enfranchising young people by empowering their voices. At the moment, the 2015 SYP elections have drawn to a close and I am delighted we have witnessed an unprecedented volume of young people standing as candidates and voting. However, SYP isn’t only about its elected representatives – we need more young people from across Scotland to get involved in our campaign to tackle child poverty. Together we can keep the pressure on, and together we can end child poverty in Scotland by 2020.

 

Joshua McCormick MSYP

Closing Statements – Scottish Youth Parliament’s 56th National Sitting – @weezeontoast

March 21st, 2015

Closing Statements – Saturday Afternoon

Louise Cameron MSYP, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament

 

Good afternoon everyone!

We have reached the end of our 56th National Sitting. What an incredible two days it has been.

 

This membership has certainly gone out with a bang and the lasting legacy you have created through our young voter engagement work for referendum, the positive changes for young carers made through our Care.Fair.Share campaign, ensuring Votes at 16 was included in the Smith Commission proposals, and the beginnings of the Poverty campaign have really demonstrated just what this membership is made of, and the difference you have made.

 

I would like to, for one final time, thank you for electing me as Chair of this organisation.  It has been an opportunity I have cherished and I hope that I have done you proud!

It hasn’t always been easy, but there are few things that are worth achieving in life that come without challenges. As with any work, the more you put into it the more you get out and I would not change this year for anything. I am so proud of everything our membership has achieved. As a membership, we have made an incredible impact, and done our bit to ensure Scotland is a nation that listens to its young people.

 

It would be wrong of me to let the Sitting draw to an end without acknowledging one very special person, who has dedicated so much of their life to SYP.

I know many of you will join me in wishing Hamira all the happiness and success for the future. I think we can all agree SYP is in a very different and better place than it was prior to her joining us. Her drive, commitment and professionalism have taken our organisation to a new level and her shoes will be extremely hard to fill.

Hamira has been an inspiration to me and many other young people, and has constantly supported me and so many others whenever we have needed her. I would just like to take this opportunity to thank Hamira, for all the work she has done for SYP, for all the young people she has inspired and for all the memories and laughs we have had with her and to wish her the best of luck for the future.

Leaving the organisation is very hard for me, especially when it has been such a huge part of my life and has really changed it for the better. I am so grateful for every opportunity I have been provided with, every memory I’ll cherish, every skill I have gained and probably most importantly every friendship I have made along the way.

SYP has given me a chance to make myself, to find out who I really am and to be proud of the opinions I have and the work I do. I hope that the organisation has contributed to all of your lives as much as it has to mine, and that you all feel like you have made a difference to the lives of young people in Scotland, because you have, just by being part of this wonderful organisation.

But the difference you have made goes beyond just being involved. The results of our engagement before the referendum when we were registering young people to vote, the success we have had raising awareness and having influence in parliament during Care.Fair.Share., and our success in ensuring votes at 16 will be a reality for the Scottish Parliament elections next year really prove the impact we are having on politics in this country, and it just shows that when we all act collectively, our voice is loud and it is certainly heard.

I want to give a huge thank you to the entire staff team, who really do not take enough credit for all the work they do. We are so lucky to have such a dedicated and talented team who work so well as a unit, and continuously deliver the highest quality of work. Every single staff member is so strong in their field and it really is easy working with them because they are all absolute experts and they share the SYP vision! I love going into the office and working in such a cheery and fun environment, but at the same time I am able to see how skilled they all are and how much they love their jobs. We really cannot thank you all enough for everything you do day in and day out and it is an absolute pleasure working with you all.

 

The Board, well what can I say about them. We have really come into ourselves these past few months and I am so proud of how far we have all come individually but also as a team. We are like brothers and sisters in the way that we don’t always agree on everything, but we certainly do all love each other! They really don’t know how proud I have been of them all, particularly following our ‘Dare2Lead’ day where we all just began to click as a group. Each person brings something different to the table which I think makes it so special and although we are sad to have lost two members, Sian and David, we know we that the remaining five of us can deliver, it just means we are all working a lot harder to make sure the organisation is the best it can be.

My dearest Terri, my Vice Chair, the robin to my batman, what would I do without you! Terri has certainly made the job a little bit brighter on the worst of days and has always been there to make me laugh when I’m on the verge of tears. I wouldn’t change having Terri as my Vice Chair for anyone else, she always knows what to say and has been a really great support when I have needed her the most. Thanks Terri, for every time you have been there for me over the last year and for all the laughs along the way.

Rarely will I get the opportunity to sit in a room surrounded by so many people who inspire me, by people who make me want to work harder and make a change to the world around me, and by people as selfless as so many of you.

 

There are people in this room who I will keep in touch with forever, people who I will see on the TV and go ‘I know them!’, people I will watch go on to do incredible things, and I will be so proud of each and every one of you with whatever you do and wish you all the best of luck.

 

Thank you to all of you for all the work you have put in over your time in SYP and, for many of you, the time you will continue to put in. The beautiful thing about SYP is that it only works when people work collectively. Put simply, without your effort and passion, there would be no SYP. It has been an absolute honour to represent you all as Chair and I am so proud of everything we have achieved together.

 

My words of advice to you all are keep doing what you love. Keep battling on for what you believe in and make sure that young people continue to be high on the agenda.

 

No idea is too small and no dream is too big.

Thank you.

Opening Statement – Scottish Youth Parliament’s 56th National Sitting – @3terrismith

March 21st, 2015

Vice Chair Opening Statement (Saturday 21st March) – Terri Smith MSYP

Scottish Youth Parliament 56th National Sitting

TerriSmith

Good Morning MSYPs, Support Workers and Guests, I am delighted to welcome you to the second day of the Scottish Youth Parliaments 56th National Sitting in the heart of my home city, Edinburgh. I hope you all enjoyed last night’s Annual Awards Ceremony and entertainment. I think you will agree that it was wonderful celebration of everything we have achieved, not just this year, but over our whole terms and I would like to congratulate all winners – it was very well deserved!

 

Today will be the last time I address this membership as Vice Chair, and for many people in this room today will be the last day of your last SYP Sitting.

While there will be a sense of sadness throughout the day, and I myself don’t particularly like goodbyes, I hope each and every one of you leave Edinburgh feeling proud from what you have accomplished and determined to enter the next chapter in your life and to affect the change and make the same impact as you did as an MSYP.

The Scottish Youth Parliament is a unique organisation, we showcase the talents and beliefs of the young people of Scotland and together we believe we can make a change.  It is because we share this belief and unity of purpose that every MSYP in this room has individually and collectively made a difference for the young people of Scotland.

 

When I joined SYP in 2009, I was just the ‘daft wee lassie from Leith’. I spoke without thinking, I joked more than I talked, and I couldn’t even tell you who the Prime Minister was let alone ask him a question live on television.

At 14 years-old, I was told I would amount to nothing, I wouldn’t leave Leith, I wouldn’t get a job and my life would be pointless. This devastated me at the time, but it soon became my motivation. Who was anybody to tell me I couldn’t or wouldn’t do something, so being the gobby wee lassie I was I thought I would join SYP.

Six years later, I now stand here now in front of all of you, proud of the work I have done, proud of the people I have helped and proud of the difference I have made along with all of you. Everyone in here has an SYP story, we are proud to tell people about our organisation and the journey we have all been on. The Scottish Youth Parliament is my life, it’s most certainly become a huge part in all your lives too.

But not only is it a huge part of my life, it has changed my life for the better, and I sincerely hope it has done so for you as well.

 

You’ve represented constituents, registered people to vote in the independence referendum, campaigned for a living wage, campaigned for young carers, made Votes at 16 a reality for the referendum and through the Smith Commission. The list goes on.

Whether you have helped 1 or 100 people the point is you’ve made a difference to someone’s life and that is the best gift any one can give or receive.

While MSYPs are undoubtedly the driving force behind SYP’s success there are two other groups of people I would like to thank in particular. The first is all our support workers – without them the work we do on a daily basis would not be possible, and SYP would not exist. They are so important to the health and vitality of our organisation, and I want to thank every single one of them for their role over the last two years.

 

There is one support worker I would like to pay a special thank you to and that is my support worker Mary Mitchell. Over the years, Mary has been the Edinburgh MSYPs taxi driver, she takes up and down the country while enduring the screams that comes from the back of the mini bus. She always ensures MSYPs are okay and carrying out their duties to the best of their abilities. She’s not just a support worker she’s our hippy Mary, who is always there to help and is always keen for us all to do well.

I know that there is a Mary Mitchell in every local authority. Our support workers care about us, they care about SYP. They share our vision and are fundamentally the back bone to the people we are in our local areas. So please everyone could have a round of applause in appreciation for all our support workers.

 

The second group of people I would like to thank is our amazing Scottish Youth Parliament staff team. All nine members of staff are the second support structure that allows us to achieve great things.

We have the Projects Team which consists of Claire and Rosy – two exceptional staff members. Rosy ensures all our events like our Sitting this weekend are a success and are safe, and a truly wonderful experience for everyone who attends. Without Claire overseeing our projects, we would not be able to deliver successful youth led projects in the way we do, and most recently, our elections wouldn’t have been as successful if it were not for her hard work and dedication.

We also have our one of a kind Youth Engagement Team – they are our enthusiastic staff members who travel the country to engage with as many young people as they can. Calum and Rhiannon are hugely inspiration youth workers, who champion the work we do all across the country. This dedicated team is led by non-other than Jamie Dunlop. When writing this speech I took 20 minutes on what to write about Jamie, but not because I had nothing to say but because I had far too much to say.

Jamie’s remit at SYP is more than just being the Youth Engagement Co-ordinator. He’s the guy who instils belief in us all. Over the past few years, he’s made me laugh, cry and even saved my life on many occasions – without him I wouldn’t be half the MSYP I am today.

Now on to our dedicated Public Affairs team, 3 of the most outstanding staff members who to me are our hidden gems. Rebecca is everyone’s favourite American who’s precision to detail is second to none. Steph is the type of Communications Officer that every organisation in the country should aspire to have. Lastly Gareth, he lives and breathes SYP and carries out his job with a huge smile on his face.

Last but by no means least. Our exceptional staff team are managed by our outstanding Chief Executive, Hamira Khan. As many of you will know, today will be Hamira’s last sitting.

During the time I have known and worked with Hamira, she has been our number one advocator. She invests the time and effort in not only all of you as MSYPs, but she ensures the staff team are supported and also makes sure my job as Vice Chair allows me to flourish and thrive.

The extent of Hamira’s work is unknown to many, but I assure you, without her contribution over the last number of years, our organisation would not have the public, media and political standing that we enjoy now. She lives in meetings, and she is always finding opportunities for SYP to expand, develop and strive for better. The funniest thing of all is that she loves to clean the SYP office. Hamira you are an exceptional woman and I wish you all the very best in your new chapter in life.

MSYPs, please raise the roof and show you appreciation to nine of the most incredible staff members anyone has seen!

 

Before I move on there’s a few other people I would like to mention, my fellow Board colleagues. Rachael, Nairn and David, it’s been a privilege to work with you over the last eight months – the laughs have been outstanding, the support has been second to none and decision making has been tough. You all have your opinions on how good a Board we have been, but I know that we all share the view that we have given it our all. And the person who has ensured that we have given it our all is our amazingly talented chair, Louise Cameron.

Louise always puts in 110%, she’s always on standby to represent every young person in Scotland but she’s the best friend any one could have. As far as the role of Chair is concerned, she has gone above and beyond her call of duty.

Louise Cameron, you truly are an inspirational woman, and a born leader. I hope as your term as Chair comes to an end, you’ll feel nothing but pride and joy about what you have achieved. I think we can all agree our first elected female Chair has been outstanding! She’s smart, talented and exceptional at what she does and I’m proud to know you.

MSYPs, please join me in showing your appreciation for our Chair, Louise Cameron, MSYP for Moray.

 

MSYPs, you have taken ownership and pride over the work you do. As your Vice Chair, I couldn’t be any happier – it has been a joy and a privilege to serve on your 2014/15 Scottish Youth Parliament Board.

To those of you who have been re-elected, congratulations and I look forward to working with you for another two years. But remember you have already started to create a legacy and by 2017, I hope you will have learned from your mistakes, replicated the good things you have done but most importantly I hope you continue to be a strong voice for every young person in Scotland.

To those of you moving on to pastures new, I really do hope SYP has made an impact on your life and whatever path you may take, remember to continue the legacy of standing up for Scotland’s most vulnerable and disenfranchised young people. My one piece of advice is ‘ Never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something, with hard work and determination you can do anything you want and achieve anything you want.

Thank you for the laughs, the memories, and your commitment and dedication – I really do wish everyone here today the very best of luck in the future – you are the 2013/15 Scottish Youth Parliament membership. You’ve made an impact, created a legacy and I look forward to the reunion in 10 years’ time.

In my time at SYP, I’ve been Terri Miller, Terri Smith,  the Convener of banter and the proud Vice Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament. But now as SYP comes to an end for many of you, I become Terri Smith, lifelong friend and someone who always has your best wishes at heart.

Thank you!

Opening Remarks – Scottish Youth Parliament’s 56th National Sitting – @weezeontoast

March 20th, 2015

Opening Remarks – Scottish Youth Parliament’s 56th National Sitting

Louise Cameron MSYP, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament

 

Good Morning Everyone!

Welcome to the Scottish Youth Parliament’s 56th National Sitting, and the last sitting for the 2013-2015 term, but let’s save our tears for tomorrow!  For many of you it will be your last Sitting, and I hope that it will be a memorable one for you all.

It has been a very busy few months. We have kicked off our new campaign POVERTY: See It Change It, held the SYP Elections for the next term, as well as having lots of media exposure, exciting events and many opportunities where we have engaged and inspired young people to get involved in politics.

We have a great day lined up with training for the campaign so that you can all get involved and make sure that this membership have the opportunity to make a huge impact through the campaign in our last few months.

 

After lunch, we have a busy afternoon getting through as many Members’ Motions as possible, with some very interesting debates ahead of us. I am also delighted to note that this Sitting will see us debate our first ever Committee Motions. In Shetland, you decided through the Procedures Group consultation that Committee Motions would provide a useful way of MSYPs influencing SYP policy, and now it’s happening. This is another testament of the maturity of SYP, and our ability and willingness to adapt to the views of our members.

Of course, to top the day off, we have the Scottish Youth Parliament Annual Awards ceremony tonight, where we will have the opportunity to celebrate some fantastic achievements, and Edinburgh will have the opportunity to showcase some of its finest local talent during the entertainment. I, for one, am hugely excited and I look forward to sharing a most memorable evening with you all later on.

 

The last few weeks have been insanely busy for SYP, especially with our National Elections. Although we don’t have the final figures just yet, some of the figures from individual constituencies and local authorities have been hugely impressive. Stirling saw an increase of 320% in their turnout and North Lanarkshire had over 10,000 votes cast, which was a 70% turn out of the young people in their area, an absolutely incredible result.

This really is a testament to the work our membership has been doing and the influence you have had on young people across our country. We are making politics a part of everyday lives for young people and inspiring them to step up when they are not satisfied, to take part in democracy. We are helping them to realise that their voices matter, and we are providing them with platform to affect change.

 

I especially enjoyed our POVERTY: See It Change It campaign launch event in Glasgow, which many of you attended and engaged with online. For me, it was really motivating to discuss the ways we could help the young people who most need support.

Tackling child and youth poverty is not going to be an easy task, but I think it really shows the challenges we as an organisation can take on nowadays. We, as young people, can see the injustice in our constituencies and on our own doorsteps, and we have made it our mission to use our influence to address this, and make it better.

Some may see the campaign as a big barrier to overcome. But I believe we can do it. I believe that we can overcome any barrier, and we can exert enough pressure and influence to topple this barrier completely. How do I know this? It’s simple. We have done it before. Equal Marriage, Votes at 16, a Living Wage, fairness for young carers.

Let’s make POVERTY: See It Change It the next on a list of successful campaigns. It is going to put us to the test so let’s show everyone what we are really made of, and campaign collectively and really commit ourselves to do what we can to fight poverty and inequality in Scotland.

 

We have certainly been on an extraordinary journey together, venturing up as far as Shetland, debating so many issues that our constituents have told us matter to them and making so many positive changes on their behalf. We have campaigned and contributed to a more inclusive, stronger Scotland by empowering young people to be truly engaged in decision making processes.

One of my highlights as an MSYP has been witnessing, and being part of, the huge increase in the level of engagement of Scotland’s young people with politics. Around 80% of 16- and 17-year-olds registered to vote in the independence referendum, and knowing that SYP contributed to this legacy by engaging with over 18,500 young people and registering thousands of first time voters makes me extremely proud to have been an MSYP during this momentous occasion in our country’s history.

 

As I am standing down as the Procedures Group Member for the UK Youth Parliament, I would like to congratulate Martyna on taking up the role and wish her the best of luck. I also have to announce the winners of the Members of the UK Youth Parliament Star Chart, and the lucky winners will win Freddos! Unfortunately, we had a three way tie with the star chart so there are three winners, but don’t worry, I have enough Freddos for you all. So, the winners are Katie Burke, Mason Rowan and Martyna Napierska! Congratulations.

 

Before we kick of the Sitting, I’d like to wish you all a wonderful and enjoyable Sitting, and I look forward to speaking with you all over the course of the weekend.

Thank you.

Youth democracy holds 56th National Sitting in Scotland’s Capital

March 20th, 2015

Youth democracy holds 56th National Sitting in Scotland’s Capital

Today (Friday 20th March 2015), the Scottish Youth Parliament will host its 56th national Sitting at the Edinburgh Training and Conference Venue.

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 weekend is the last national Sitting of the current Membership. Each Membership is elected for a two year term. Following the SYP Elections 2015, which took place between 2nd March and 13th March, the MSYP elects will form the new Membership of the Scottish Youth Parliament from June 2015.

During the evening of Friday 20th March 2015, the SYP Awards will take place. As a youth-led organisation, the SYP Awards is a hugely significant occasion which recognises the outstanding work that Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYPs) and their Support Workers do to represent Scotland’s young people. This event will provide an important opportunity to reflect on the legacy of the current Membership, and celebrate their commitment to ensuring young people are at the heart of shaping Scotland’s future.

Speaking about the two-day event, the Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament, Louise Cameron MSYP said:

“The Scottish Youth Parliament’s National Sitting is a fantastic opportunity for elected young people from across Scotland to come together and debate the issues of importance to their constituents. This will be the last Sitting of the current Membership, and I can confidently speak on behalf of the Membership when I say we have been on an extraordinary journey together over the past two years.

“It has been an honour to have represented Scotland’s young people as an MSYP. Since June 2013, SYP has held 6 national Sittings across the country, venturing as far as the Shetland Islands for our June 2015 AGM, and we’ve debated numerous issues that our constituents have told us are important to them, including zero hour contracts, work experience, among many others.

“We have campaigned on a range of issues of importance to Scotland’s young people, and helped foster a stronger, more inclusive Scotland by empowering young people to be truly involved in the decision-making process.

“One of my highlights as an MSYP has been witnessing the huge increase in the level of engagement of Scotland’s young people with politics. Around 80% of 16- and 17-year-olds registered to vote in the independence referendum, and knowing that SYP contributed to this legacy by engaging with over 18,500 young people and registered thousands of first time voters makes me extremely proud to have been an MSYP during this momentous occasion in our country’s history.

“I am particularly looking forward to the 2015 SYP Awards, and having the opportunity to celebrate the work of my fellow MSYPs, and their passion and commitment to ensuring the voices of Scotland’s young people continue to be heard and recognised by our country’s decision makers.”

Terri Smith, MSYP for Edinburgh Northern and Leith, will be welcoming her fellow MSYPs to her TerriSmith hometown for the Sitting this weekend. Terri said:

“It’s great to be holding the 56th Scottish Youth Parliament Sitting in Edinburgh, which I am proud to represent. Following the recent SYP elections, I know my fellow MSYPs are looking forward to coming together for the final Sitting of our term and representing the voices of our constituents.

“SYP’s national elections were a huge occasion for Scotland’s young people, and I am delighted to have been re-elected as a Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament for Edinburgh Northern and Leith. While this Sitting will mark the final meeting of a Membership who have enjoyed two fantastic years filled with an array of historic achievements, I am looking forward to working with the future Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament and helping drive real change.”

Scottish Party Leaders call on young people to vote in Scottish Youth Parliament National Elections

March 12th, 2015

Scottish Party Leaders call on young people to vote in Scottish Youth Parliament National Elections

Young people are being urged to have their say as the deadline approaches for voting in the Scottish Youth Parliament elections.

Young people aged 12-25 are able to cast their vote to elect their local Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament until Friday 13th March 2015.

The Scottish Youth Parliament is the democratically elected voice of Scotland’s young people. It provides a national platform for young people to discuss issues important to them and affect the change they wish to see.

Young people can cast their vote by submitting a paper ballot or using the e-voting system, depending on the method chosen by their local authority.

Further information on candidates standing for election can be found at www.syp.org.uk/elections.

 

Nairn McDonald MSYP was re-elected as a Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament for Cunninghame South in 2013, and after 4 years as an MSYP, Nairn has chosen not to stand for re-election. Speaking about his time as an MSYP, Nairn said:

Nairn SYP bibble“The current Membership of the Scottish Youth Parliament has campaigned on a range of issues of importance to Scotland’s young people over the past two years. I’m so proud to have been at the heart of campaigns which have helped to shape historic changes in our society, such as the lowering of the voting age, marriage equality, and the implementation of policies to help young carers facing financial hardship.

“During my time as an MSYP, I’ve witnessed a huge increase in the level of engagement of Scotland’s young people with politics. Around 80% of 16- and 17-year-olds registered to vote in the independence referendum, and knowing that SYP engaged with over 18,500 young people and registered thousands of first time voters makes me extremely proud to have been an MSYP during this momentous occasion in our country’s history.

“As an organisation, we have passionately advocated for young people through three national campaigns. We’ve held 6 national Sittings across the country, venturing as far as the Shetland Islands for our June 2015 AGM, and debated numerous issues that our constituents have told us are important to them.

“This election is a hugely momentous occasion for Scotland’s young people, and with enthusiastic and committed young people at the forefront of shaping our society, I believe we can all look forward to substantive positive change driven by the future Members of SYP.

“Being a Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament is a truly life-changing experience. I hope that everyone engages with the election campaigns taking place in their local area, and casts a vote for the candidate they would like to represent their views.”

 

Leaders and representatives of Scotland’s main political parties shared messages of support for all of those standing as candidates in the Scottish Youth Parliament national elections.

 

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“Scotland’s young people have never been more engaged in politics. Giving 16 and 17 year olds the chance to vote in the referendum helped hugely in fuelling the democratic engagement that saw a massive turnout of almost 85 per cent, with a record 3.6 million people turning out to vote, including more than 100,000 16 to 17 year-olds.

“I hope we see a continuation in that political engagement and wish all the candidates in the Scottish Youth Parliament National Elections the very best of luck.”

 

Deputy Leader of the Scottish Labour Party, Kezia Dugdale MSP, said:

“Young people are often called the future of our democracy, but they are much more than that. The Scottish Youth Parliament is a fantastic opportunity for young people to shape Scottish politics today. I hope as many people as possible vote and stand in these important elections”

 

Scottish Conservative young people spokeswoman Liz Smith said:

“Young Scots proved themselves to be an engaged and articulate group during the referendum.

“I encourage as many young people as possible to stand and to get involved in the upcoming SYP elections.

“I wish everyone involved the very best of luck.”

 

Patrick Harvie MSP, Co-Convenor of the Scottish Greens said:

“The Scottish Youth Parliament plays an important role in ensuring the voice of Scottish youth is heard and it is great to see so many people already getting involved. It is essential that young people are encouraged to participate in politics and are motivated to care about the way the country is run. Voting for candidates in the upcoming Scottish Youth Parliament election is a good first step in participating in this process. Congratulations to those who are standing and I wish all candidates the best of luck.”

 

Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats Willie Rennie MSP said:

“I wish all of the candidates the best of luck in their campaign. 2014 was the year young people proved naysayers that they could carry themselves with dignity and maturity in public debate. I hope that 2015 sees the continued participation of young people in politics continue on such a huge scale. The Scottish Youth Parliament elections is a fantastic opportunity for young people to put their mark on society. I hope that young people vote use their responsibility to vote in these elections to demonstrate why it should be a right in every election.”

 

Vice Chair Update February 2015 @3TERRISMITH

February 26th, 2015

TerriSmith UNCRC

Happy February everyone!

SYP is now busier than ever, and as usual, nothing’s changed TV wise for me – I’m still pretty bored, and I just wish EastEnders would stop dragging out their storylines. Believe it or not, I’ve just turned 20 and not 60 (I know that’s hard to believe). So far this month, we’ve had Valentine’s Day and Pancake Day! I’ve just about finished opening all the Valentine’s Day cards and gifts I received. Only joking; I think Royal Mail must have lost them.

#SYPElex is nearly in full swing, with less than one week until voting opens across Scotland. I just want to take this opportunity to wish current MSYPs and all candidates throughout the country the very best of luck. Enjoy your time campaigning, relish the experience, and remember, if you don’t get elected, don’t give up. As my wee auld Nana would say, “What’s for you won’t go by you.”

 

What has your Vice Chair been up to?

Nationally 
February has been as busy as every other month. At the start of the month, I had the privilege of speaking at the media launch of Anne McTaggart MSP’s proposed Organ and Tissue Donation (Scotland) Bill, which took place in the Scottish Parliament. At the event, I spoke with young people who had received or were waiting to receive an organ. Their stories were remarkable, and that is why I felt so honoured to speak on behalf of Scotland’s young people at the event.

I also attended another Board meeting. Our next meeting is scheduled for Friday 6th March 2015, so if you have any questions or queries in advance of this, please get in touch. Also this month, I attended and chaired the Campaign for Scottish Home Rule event in Stirling, which was facilitated by MSYPs. This was another unique experience for young people to voice their opinions on important matters. Finally, just over one week ago, I travelled to Belfast with five other MSYPs to take part in the Participation of the Isles Conference. Once again, this was a fantastic experience where young people from all over the U.K. and Ireland came together to discuss our differences and similarities. The trip involved a black cab tour of the city, during which we visited all the murals and peace walls built during the Troubles in Northern Ireland. It was a truly fascinating experience, and one I’ll never forget. You can hear what MSYPs had to say about the conference further into my update.

Locally 
I’ve been involved in much more SYP elections activity in my local area and I’m really looking forward to the Edinburgh hustings this week. Aside from this, I visited the City Chambers, home to the Edinburgh City Councillors, to discuss our new POVERTY: See It Change It campaign. The councillors showed unanimous support for the campaign, and I will be working alongside the full council to gain cross party support for a council motion to be passed. Also, I was really pleased to be informed that after a year of lobbying the City of Edinburgh Council on Care.Fair.Share., they have passed a motion to further investigate introducing concessionary travel for young carers. This is particularly pleasing, as it looks like young carers will receive reduced travel from transport Lothian from April 2016. I’m extremely proud to have made this significant progress locally.

 

Terri’s Corner

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill. 

Jokes

Thanks for all your submissions! Once again, I think I laughed way more than I should have, but you all have great banter.

Best Board Joke
Rachael McCully MSYP – How does NASA plan their company parties? They planet.

Best MSYP Jokes

Rhianne Carroll MSYP – My mate has a heart of a lion and a lifetime ban from Edinburgh Zoo.

Nancy Russell MSYP – What did Jay-Z call his wife before they got married? Feyoncè.

Best Procedures Group Joke

Jordan Linden MSYP – What did the green grape say to the purple grape? Oh my god, breathe!

Best Conveners Group Joke

Thomas McEachan MSYP – What do you call a laughing jar of mayonnaise? LMAYO

 

Shoutouts

Once again, I’m continually impressed with all your great work. My main shoutouts this month go to:

The North Lanarkshire MSYPs – I would like to congratulate all eight North Lanarkshire MSYPs who are being presented with the Lord Provost badges this month in recognition of their hard work over the last two years.

Joshua McCormick MSYP – I would like to congratulate and wish Josh the best of luck as he is a finalist in the North Ayrshire Civic Pride Awards in the category of Young Citizen of the Year.

Louise Cameron MSYP – I would like to thank Louise for her hard work as the UKYP’s Procedures Group representative for Scotland, and I also wish all the best to Martyna Napiereska MSYP, who has taken over the role this month.

Jordan Linden MSYP – Finally, I would like to congratulate Jordan on his appointment as Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament’s Procedures Group.

 

Mini Staff Interview  

The staff interview this month is with Gareth Brown, which now means we’ve heard from everyone on the Public Affairs Team. Therefore, I just want to thank everyone for their efforts and contributions – you’ve all been fab. For anyone that doesn’t know, Gareth is SYP’s Public Affairs Coordinator and he has been working at SYP since August 2013.

1.) What does your job as the Public Affairs Coordinator at SYP involve?
The beauty about my role at SYP is that it involves lots of different things. On a higher level, I am responsible for managing the Public Affairs Team, and overseeing our work which includes campaigns, communications and policy. In addition, I also have specific responsibility for Policy and Research. This includes supporting the Members’ Motions mechanism and the development of SYP policy, working with the Conveners Group to develop consultation responses and written evidence, and keeping on top of policy developments from both the UK and Scottish Governments and Parliaments to try and identify opportunities for SYP to influence these developments.

In reality, we all work very closely together in the Public Affairs Team on the majority work, which is fantastic as it incorporates all our strengths and insights.

2.) What is the best thing about working for SYP?
I’m a very ambitious person, and ultimately I thrive on and enjoy success. I love working for an organisation as successful as SYP. It makes every piece of work and every day exciting as we are constantly exploring ways to raise the bar again and again. The credibility of SYP with key decision makers comes from the work of MSYPs, and I really enjoy seeing when the hard work of MSYPs pays off through campaign successes or successful media interviews.

3.) What is your favourite musical?
This one is easy! Without a doubt, it has to be Phantom of the Opera. It is a beautifully written piece of music. I can’t describe the feeling I get when I see it, or listen to the music. Totally overwhelming. It’s now in it’s 27th consecutive year on the West End in London, so it must be doing something right!

4.) If you could invite any three people in the world to dinner, who would they be and why?
Ok, so this one is harder. So many amazing historical, fictional and sporting figures to choose from.

I think one would certainly be Sherlock Holmes. I absolutely love everything about Sherlock Holmes: the books, the short stories, the films, the series. Everything. I guess there is something cool about a hero who uses his supreme intellect to save the day! Also, the new BBC series with Benedict Cumberbatch is outstanding! A secret dream of mine is to record an Audiobook of the Sherlock Holmes stories. Maybe some day.

I think another would have to be Alan Turing. Alan Turing was a mathematician who was responsible for designing the machine that broke the Nazi “Enigma code” during World War II. For those of you who enjoy your World War history, this was a defining moment in war that would shift the momentum to the Allies. He also invented what we now know as the modern “computer”. He was charged and convicted for being gay, which was a criminal offense back then, and subsequently committed suicide because of the severe chemical adjustment medication he was forced to take as his penalty.

Finally, I think it would have to be Placido Domingo. Domingo was one of the “Three Tenors” along with Jose Carreras and Luciano Pavarotti. In my mind, he is the greatest operatic singer to have ever lived. Combined with this, he is a wonderful actor. It’s rare that someone is outstanding in both disciplines. At the age of 74, he is still performing in operas around the world, and still attends Real Madrid games. He is an inspiration for any musician.

 

Final thoughts 

I asked the MSYPs who attended the conference in Belfast what they thought of the experience and wanted to share it all with you:

Thomas Mair MSYP – “Once again, the Scottish Youth Parliament has been involved in another unique and truly multicultural experience. SYP has proven that our youth participation level is second to none – I am extremely proud to be an MSYP.”

Martyna Napiereska MSYP – “I believe this conference has transformed my idea of Northern Ireland and our communication. Without a doubt, I would do it again and I hope one day Scotland can host its own Participation of the Isles Conference.”

Nicole Dempster MSYP – “This weekend, I have had an amazing time meeting young people from across the five nations. It has been so interesting to find out all about the political system in Northern Ireland and enhance my understanding of the Troubles.”

Eilidh Collins MSYP – “This weekend has been incredible for engaging with young people from all over the U.K. and Ireland. I have learned so much, and I am enthused to work towards more cohesion between the five nations.”

Reminders
The Procedures Group is running a consultation on Subject Committees and you can take part here

Also, don’t forget, SYP launched its survey on child and youth poverty in Scotland, which aims to collate research on what young people think about poverty. Please make sure you take part and encourage other young people to share their views.

You can also get involved in the next Vice Chair update here.

Again, I wish all #SYPElex candidates the best of luck! Don’t forget to follow the action on Twitter using the hashtag. Enjoy the rest of the month, and I’m sure the postman will bring those forgotten Valentine’s Day cards soon, ha! In the meantime, any questions, queries, or of course banter, get in touch!

 

Terri Smith MSYP
Vice Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament
@3terrismith 

Lowering the voting age can only be positive – Terri Smith MSYP, Vice Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament

February 23rd, 2015

Lowering the voting age can only be positive

In response to the concerns recently expressed from the House of Lords Constitution Committee about lowering the voting age, Terri Smith MSYP, Vice Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament said:

“Young people have truly shaped a defining moment in history throughout the last year, and the entire world has been watching and waiting to see if the decision to lower the voting age for the Scottish independence referendum would be a success, and indeed it has been.

“I note that on Monday 23rd February 2015, it was reported that the House of Lords Constitution Committee has expressed concerns about devolving the electoral franchise to Scotland and its impact in the rest of the UK. One of the concerns is that a lowered voting age in Scotland may lead to pressure for similar changes in the other devolved territories.

“While the Scottish Youth Parliament respects that any decision to lower the voting age must be properly considered by each devolved territory, we believe that voting at 16 is a right that should be afforded to all young people.

“As a nation, we should be encouraging our young people to have their say and shape their own futures. We should be focusing on engaging young people in politics, not sending messages that suggest their voices do not matter.

“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 I hope the rest of the country can see that too. We are delighted that the voting age will be lowered to 16 in time for the next Scottish Parliament elections, and we believe this will have a very positive impact on the overall levels of engagement.”