A Month in the Life of an MSYP – Jordan Linden MSYP

July 28th, 2014

The life of an MSYP can be very busy at times and I’m delighted to share a snapshot of the work that an MSYP can get involved in.

The past four weeks have been particularly busy with the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games beginning and a range of other events taking place throughout the month.

Last month, I took part in the Cross Party Group on Volunteering. This was a great opportunity to participate in a discussion about volunteering and what volunteering opportunities there are for people, in particular, young people across Scotland. Convener Margaret McDougall MSP and Deputy Convener Annabelle Ewing MSP, along with the CPG, were delighted to hear an MSYP’s perspective on volunteering and the benefit that these opportunities carry for young people.

JL YouthCab eventOn June 20th 2014, I joined with fellow MSYPs, Young Scot Representatives, and young people from across the country, at a Scottish Government Youth Cabinet event. The First Minister and his Cabinet Secretaries met with young people to hold intimate discussion groups on issues relating to the independence referendum. This was a fantastic opportunity to engage directly with the key decision makers in Scotland, and access the opportunity to ask the questions that young people across Scotland want to the know the answers too.

At a local level, earlier this month, I was delighted to be invited along as the inspirational speaker at the North Lanarkshire Council Saltire Awards Evening. I joined with young volunteers from across the local area to share my volunteering story and to inspire others to keep doing what they are doing. These young people really inspired me – they give up hours of their life to contribute to our communities. Some volunteers had given up as many as 500 hours to their communities. I was privileged to receive an honorary 700 hours Saltire Certificate for the work I’ve done. This is an example of the power that volunteering can have and an example of how great it is to be an MSYP – you can champion and inspire others to keep doing the work they do, and encourage others to start volunteering, as it could be the best thing they ever do!JL saltire award

July began with a bang as MSYPs from across the country joined together in Lerwick, Shetland, for the 54th National Sitting of the Scottish Youth Parliament, kindly hosted by Shetland Islands Council. MSYPs had incredible debates, an independence hustings, held our Annual General Meeting, and spent time together. We also had a great journey to and from Shetland and had fun documenting it on Twitter with #SYP54Ferry – what an experience! Sittings are key to an MSYP’s role and it is an opportunity for everyone to get together, to debate and form policy, but also to see each other.

JL London
Last week, Thomas Mair MSYP, Thomas McEachan MSYP, Assad Khan MSYP, and I all attended the All Party Parliamentary Group on Youth Affairs Annual General Meeting and discussion on access to low cost housing. We travelled to the meeting with the support of our partners at the British Youth Council and it was a really interesting event, allowing us to hear the perspectives of young people from across the United Kingdom.

Finally, I was privileged to visit the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games Athletes’ Village along with friends from Young Scot. Ahead of the Commonwealth Games, we met with friend of the Scottish Youth Parliament and ex-First Minister, Lord Jack McConnell, and Chieftain of the Village, athlete and gladiator, Shirley Addison, as well as representatives of Team Scotland. It was absolutely inspiring and exciting to be at the heart of Glasgow 2014.

I hope that I’ve been able to demonstrate the range of activities that MSYPs participate in and the difference that our roles can make to communities across Scotland. I believe MSYPs play a crucial role in empowering other young people to participate in local democracy and encourage them to become active citizens.

With the SYP elections in the near future, I hope that the examples I have highlighted will share just a quick glimpse at the amazing opportunities, events, and ultimately the contribution that you – as a future MSYP – could make to the lives of young people across Scotland.

Being an MSYP has changed my life, it has given me the confidence to be the person I am today and the skills to empower and inspire others to go better, think bigger, and help make a difference in your community. What a brilliant experience it has been.

- Jordan Linden MSYP

East Dunbartonshire’s Youth Summit Event – Rachel Crawford MSYP

July 17th, 2014

It all started in February, when the Membership of East Dunbartonshire Youth Council were presented with the idea of hosting a ‘Youth Summit’. The aim was to improve political literacy with students in the area. In short, we wanted the day to be about engaging and informing our constituents about local issues, and most importantly, about the upcoming independence referendum. So, early this June – after hours and hours of planning – that’s what we did.

We invited a group of around twenty S5 and S6 pupils from each of the eight secondary schools in East Dunbartonshire, along with some locally elected members (who came to see the event unfold), for an action-packed day filled with different sessions. We held a session on the process of voting itself, and afterwards held a mock-vote using ballot boxes. We had speeches on ‘The Importance of Democracy’ from two members of a debating club from a local school who have recently won a televised debating competition. We held our own Aye Naw Mibbe sessions with groups of pupils, and afterwards discussed local issues concerning education, health, transport, and recreation with them. Then to finish off, we had a fantastic independence debate, where our constituents put forward their own questions to the panel – which consisted of two speakers from both Yes Scotland and Better Together. Empowering young people was a big theme of the day, so we found it important that each of the two campaigns included a young person as a speaker, giving the debate an honest opinion of how they felt independence would affect them as young people.

One of my favourite sessions of the day was the Aye Naw Mibbe session. All members of the Youth Council had been given training in how to run these sessions, so we divided off into groups and carried out an Aye Naw Mibbe session by ourselves. I was fortunate to have a really engaged and enthusiastic group, which made running this part of day even better. There was some fascinating debate and a lot of great ideas circulating during the part of the session where we asked the question, “If you were in power for a day, what would you change?” As well as having invited locally elected members, members of the SYP staff team were in attendance giving young people, including myself, the opportunity to register to vote. It was eye-opening to see how many young people there didn’t realise that they had to register to vote, and those who just hadn’t gotten around to it. It was an amazing feeling to know that most of the young people in attendance are now registered to vote, as it’s such a huge part of what will be their first ever opportunity to vote.

At the beginning and end of the day, we held short interactive voting sessions, where the use of voting pads allowed our constituents to tell us how informed they felt about registering to vote and how to vote. When the young people were asked at the end of the day, “Do you now feel more informed about how to vote?” an incredible 99% of them voted ‘yes’ – meaning our efforts in delivering the Aye Naw Mibbe session, along with the mock ballot, had helped the majority of them feel more confident in the process of voting. Also, when they were asked, “Do you now feel more capable of making an informed decision when voting in the referendum?” an amazing 83% voted yes – indicating that the independence debate helped answer a great deal of their questions.

I feel incredibly proud of the East Dunbartonshire Youth Council for the huge effort that we made in order to make this day a success – alongside the wonderful SYP Youth Engagement Team, who offered a great deal of support. Being part of our Youth Council and making an impact on the political involvement and interest of our constituents gives me a great deal of pride – and I’m sure other youth forums looking to do something similar would feel the same too.

Rachel Crawford MSYP

Youth Democracy Elects New Young Leaders

July 9th, 2014

Scottish Youth Parliament Press Office

Youth Democracy Elects New Young Leaders

On Sunday 6th July 2014, Louise Cameron MSYP was elected as the Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP) at the SYP’s 54th Annual Sitting and AGM in Lerwick Town Hall, Lerwick, Shetland Islands.

Terri Smith MSYP was elected as the Vice Chair of the SYP, and the Membership also elected four new Trustees: Sian Hughes MSYP, David McLaughlin MSYP, Rachael McCully MSYP, and David Stewart MSYP.

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.

Speaking after the Sitting, the newly elected Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament, Louise Cameron MSYP said:

“It is such an honour to have been elected as the new Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament, especially in this exciting year in Scottish history. Whatever the outcome of the referendum, there will continue to be tremendous opportunities available for young people to influence politics and shape the future of our country.”

“I am excited and optimistic that with my leadership, and the support of our strong membership, we can grasp the attention of politicians and truly have a say over the politics affecting us as young people.”

Also speaking after the Sitting, Terri Smith MSYP, Vice Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament said:

“It is a privilege to have been elected as the Vice Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament, an organisation that has given me so much, and it is a real honour to further represent MSYPs and the young people of Scotland.”

“It’s going to be an exciting year ahead for Scotland’s young people, and as Vice Chair of SYP, I want to ensure young people can embrace the many opportunities for their voices to be heard. I believe it is important that young people have a platform to get involved and have their say about issues which are important to them.”

“I am proud to be part of an organisation which is committed to empowering young people, ensuring their voices are heard by the decision makers of Scotland.”

Louise Cameron MSYP, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament

Louise Cameron MSYP, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament

Terri Smith MSYP, Vice Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament

Terri Smith MSYP, Vice Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament

Closing and Final Speech to #SYP54 – Kyle Thornton MSYP, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament

July 5th, 2014

MSYPs, Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

It is now time for me to make my last speech to SYP since I first stood for election 5 years ago and while I’m sad to be leaving, I’m also proud and optimistic because I’m really glad to say the SYP I stood for election to as a 14 year old is not the SYP that I’ve led over the past year as Chair.

 

We’re better, so much better than then. We now have a much stronger mandate to represent young people with 2011′s elections gaining over 63,000 votes and there now being a representative from every part of Scotland.

 

Today, we achieve real change for Scotland’s young people with this year seeing the achievement of real progress for young carers, the introduction of Votes at 16 for the referendum and of course, the introduction of same-sex marriage in Scotland. If I’m honest, it’s probably that last, and I think greatest achievement, so far, that I’ll be most proud of from my time as an MSYP.

 

What that campaign showed me i©DN Andersons that for young people, there is no great divide between us. We believe in fairness and freedom as a generation, that campaign showed that we weren’t afraid to get out there and to stand up, as young people, for what we believe is right. On a personal note, and on behalf of those young people, myself included, who thanks to the hard work and campaigning of this membership and the one before can now enjoy the same rights to marry regardless of sexuality, can I say thank you and I hope you all can take a little bit of pride in knowing that you have made a real difference for a lot of young people.

 

This September, our ability to make a real difference for young people will also be on display when thanks to our hard campaigning work, we helped ensure 16 and 17 year olds will get a say on the future of their nation. And if I can ask you one favour, after the referendum, it’s this – when young people have turned out in their thousands for the referendum and have cast the most important ballot of the next 30 years, ask your Parliamentarians why exactly some of your constituents got to vote on the future of their country but can’t vote to decide their MP, MSP or Councillor. Whatever the result of the referendum, the campaign for Votes at 16 will face a now or never opportunity to secure Votes at 16 for generations to come, let’s make sure SYP is at the forefront of clinching that final, lasting victory on the voting age.

 

And this year’s campaign, Care.Fair. Share., exemplifies the idea that young people have a real calling towards fairness and social justice. Most of us in this room aren’t young carers but we’ve spent the last six months up and down the country, shouting loud to make sure young carers get the fair treatment they deserve and I know, from talking to young carers, that they appreciate that their Youth Parliament is 100% right behind them and the invaluable role they play in society. And for the last time, can I once again embarrass Lauren King MSYP, our campaign lead. Lauren is a SYP success story. She’s taken an issue which was on the fringes of our debates, brought to her by her local young carers group, presented it to us, presented it to Parliament and she now leads a National Campaign all about fairness for young carers. Lauren, thank you for your work as our campaign lead, you’ve done a fantastic job and I know everyone in this room is incredibly proud to have you as our campaign lead.

 

As I look around this room, I also see a growing SYP success story. When I first stood 5 years ago, we used to get accusations of being a “middle class talking shop” thrown at us regularly. We’re now more representative that ever before. From the boy fae Govan as Chair to a membership more reflective of Scotland, no-one now says that about us – but we can’t rest because we always need to be doing our best to be more representative. If there’s one area that we need to work on, it’s ensuring we continue to grow the number of young women in our organisation but I don’t think that happens by quotas, by selecting people because of their gender. SYP needs to keep making the case to women across the country to get involved and then when they’re here, to stand to lead our organisation.

We’ve had a fantastic year. It has been my privilege to lead SYP through it and as I said at the start, I leave proud and optimistic. We’ve taken the challenge of the referendum by the horns and used it as an opportunity to reach out to others in our sector and to young people who we’ve never reached before to urge them to register to vote and cast their vote. We’re now seen as the sector leader on Young Voter Engagement and we’ve got a real opportunity, post-referendum, to continue to build our Youth Engagement and our reputation for high quality, youth-led engagement reaching out to more and more young people, letting them know we’re here for them and encouraging them to use us as their voice.LM_SYP_012

 

I’m also really proud of our SYPeers programme which sees young people, who aren’t MSYPs but who are passionate about democracy and our work, receive training to go out across Scotland and deliver sessions and engage with young people. It sums up the change in SYP we’ve made over the last couple of years. SYP is no longer just a members club, where all our focus goes solely on MSYPs, but we reach out to all young people, with programmes and opportunities, youth engagement and education events. That’s what a Parliament is all about, not looking in but reaching out and SYP is always at its best when we reach out and involve as many young people as we can in our work.

 

Jamie and his team have also been working hard to ensure that we reach the “hard to reach” young people in Scotland. We’ve been working with a range of partners to make it happen from young prisoners to looked after young people to young carers. We’ve been making sure your background isn’t a barrier to participating in SYP.

 

While SYP is bringing back Youth Work in a big way to our work centrally, we’re seeing a real challenge to youth work by our Local Authorities. When I lost my first SYP Election, it was Jo, my Youth Worker at the time who kept me involved in the whole thing. She refused to let me just drop off or do other things and I can’t thank her enough for what she did for me. I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for Jo and I know many of you will have similar Youth Workers, who have made that difference to your life. SYP needs to start telling its Youth Work stories because if we don’t, we risk letting youth work disappear in some places. In my own authority, it hangs on by a thread because of determined people, who need our support. Tomorrow’s young people will thank us for making the case now for strong youth work services. Could I please take this opportunity to ask you all to show your appreciation to your Support Workers for the work that they do with you on an ongoing basis, and for all the work involved in bringing us to Shetland this weekend.

 

This year we’ve also had a range of internal reforms, some of which I’ll be putting forward to a vote tomorrow. I think it is mark of maturity that we are able to look at ourselves and our structures with a critical eye, and make positive changes based on the views of our Membership.

 

Our staff team is now bigger and better and I think it shows. We’re quickly gaining a reputation for being an efficient, well run and passionate organisation. Our staff team love what we do, they embrace their role in supporting young people to take the lead in our organisation and we owe them a real debt for what they do to enable us to represent Scotland’s young people.

 

It has been my pleasure to lead an organisation with such a fantastic team within it and I want to pay special tribute to our Chief Executive, Hamira. You don’t quite appreciate just how much she does for us until you become “the boss”. I’ve never met someone so hard working, dynamic, creative and passionate about us. She’s first in in the morning and last out at night and really does put 110% into SYP, making sure we have a well run staff team and that our organisation is working well. On behalf of the board, and the membership, thank you very much.

 

My last thanks as Chair hasLM_SYP_074 to go to all of you, our members. We wouldn’t be a here today if it wasn’t for you all working in your local areas, promoting our campaigns and being passionate about SYP. As much as I said that we must be for all of Scotland’s young people, it is MSYPs who are the beating heart of our organisation. You take the big decisions, you lead the organisation and you make the case so well for why we need more young people in public life in Scotland. Thank you to all of you for being out in your communities, talking and listening to young people and campaigning for a better deal for young people.

 

And so as I draw my remarks to a close, I can only reflect on what has been a life changing experience for me. Where I’m from in Glasgow is better known for its negatives than its positives. SYP has changed my life and given me opportunities that I could never have dreamed of. From speaking in the House of Commons from the Despatch Box to addressing Commonwealth Parliamentarians in Cardiff to speaking in our very own Parliament and being able to meet so many different people from so many walks of life. When I first stood for election, I was a shier, less confident person than today and I owe so much to this organisation which has really transformed my life, making me a better person, able to take on what life throws my way.

 

But more than what SYP has given to me is what it has enabled me to do for the young people that I represent in the Southside of Glasgow. I’ve had the opportunities to fight for the things that matter to them, to protect local youth services and to raise the issues that affect them every day here at SYP and beyond. I make a point of always making it be known that I represent Glasgow Southside because I’m really proud of where I’m from and the young people that I represent and when I stand down tomorrow as their MSYP, I’m happy to say I’ve done my bit to make our little bit of Glasgow that bit better.

 

SYP has been my second family for the last three years since being elected. I’ve had the immense privilege of being your Vice Chair and Chair. I hope that I’ve helped make our organisation the best it can be, with the capacity and vision to develop even more, because Scotland’s young people really need us, more than ever, to be fighting their corner.

 

SYP is an independent voice, willing to stand up for what young people tell us is the right thing. We’re democratic, inclusive, independent and passionate. Our core values make us what we are and we should never lose sight of them.

 

Tomorrow you will elect a new board and a new Chair who I know will take SYP to even better places. Lots of candidates love to talk about change but do you know what, I think that’s a bit of a faulty use of words. I think SYP can be improved, absolutely, but what we have works actually quite well, so before you say change, change, change, let’s appreciate the fantastic organisation we have now and look at how we can improve it and make it better for the future.

 

Be proud to be here and be proud of what you’re doing for young people who otherwise would have no voice at all.

 

It has been an honour and privilege to be your Chair this past year and if I can ever be of help, please don’t hesitate to call.

 

So Thank You and Goodbye.

Lauren King MSYP, Lead Campaigner, #CareFairShare Update Speech to #SYP54

July 5th, 2014

Hello everyone!

 

I hope you all had a great time on the ferry and are enjoying the Sitting so far. It is great to see all of you, and hear about all the great work you have been doing.

 

I’m Lauren King, Lead Campaigner for Care.Fair.Share.

 

I am so proud of all that the campaign has done so far. Since the beginning of the campaign, we have changed the guidance for the administration of EMA to ensure that schools and local authorities know that young carers should be given flexibility in attendance due to their caring responsibilities. This will make a big difference for young carers who are trying to balance caring with school and studying.LM_SYP_015

 

Recently, myself and Kyle met with Aileen Campbell MSP, the Minister for Children and Young People, to discuss the campaign and ask for further meetings to discuss the campaign aims, and the changes we want to see for young carers.

 

MSYPs have also engaged with nearly 3,000 young people and young carers through your local activities, the consultation cards, the consultation day in Edinburgh, and our youth engagement sessions. You’ve met with young carers’ organisations, Councillors, and over 70 MSPs about the campaign. Many of your local councils have passed motions of support.

 

Together, we are spreading the message that young carers need to be treated fairly.

 

We have had much success, but there is still more to do! In August, once the Parliamentary Recess is over, we hope to meet with Michael Russell MSP, the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning; Keith Brown MSP, the Minister for Transport and Veterans; and Michael Matheson MSP, the Minster for Public Health to lobby for the campaign aims, and make a change for young carers.

 

 

These are the meetings that will lead to the policy changes we want to see for young carers. To secure these meetings, and have the outcomes we want, we need to keep the pressure on, and keep campaigning!

 

MSYPs, we need to use social media to keep raising awareness about the campaign. We need to write to our local papers, and submit blogs to the SYP website. We need to meet with our local councils to spread the word about EMA, and ask them to work with local transport providers to offer young carers reduced travel. We need to write to and meet with our MSPs, and ask them to support the campaign and the meetings we want to have.

 

Together, we can do this.
After our meetings with the Ministers, we will hopefully have a lot of good news we will want to publicise to as many young carers as possible. They need to know the EMA guidance has changed, and that it is easier now for them to keep the payments they are entitled to.LM_SYP_037

 

They’ll also need to know about any changes to bursaries or travel. More details will be sent as the meetings happen, and a new Toolkit will be issued then.

 

For now though, to help demonstrate to councils, MSPs, and the Scottish Government that young people support this campaign, we have designed campaign pledge cards.
Your support worker has 50 cards for each of you. We need you to get your constituents to sign the cards, and show their support for Care.Fair.Share.

 

In a moment, you will decide in your local authority groups who you would like to send the cards to – Councillors, constituency MSPs, regional MSPs. If you have had a successful meeting with your MSPs, it may be best to lobby your local councils to support the campaign. If your MSPs have not been supportive, or if it has been difficult to meet with them, this is a great way to show them that young people in their area want fairer treatment for young carers.

 

Please let me know if you have any questions, and thank you for all of your hard work! Together, we can make Care.Fair.Share. a success!

 

Thank you.

Nicola Pringle MSYP – Care.Fair.Share.

July 4th, 2014

Scotboarders MSYPs CFSOn Thursday 26th June, Finlay Duff MSYP and I took the motion, “That Scottish Borders Council, in support of the Scottish Youth Parliament’s national campaign, ‘Care,Fair,Share.’, and their ambitions for young carers (1) invites the Council’s Education Committee to receive for its consideration an updated Young Carers Strategy for the years 2014-2017, and (2) asks the Leader to write to the Minister for Transport, Keith Brown MSP, expressing Scottish Borders support for a review of concessionary transport to account for the needs and circumstances of young carers” to council in hope it would be passed.

The motion had been prepared earlier with the help of Scott Redmond, after a meeting with Action for Children who helped us understand exactly what it was that young carers needed. The motion was led by Councillor Graham Garvie, who is also our Children and Young People’s Champion. The motion was then seconded by Councillor Sandy Aitchison.

Both and Finlay and I spoke about the motion and why it was so critical to young carers. We had several comments from councillors stating that they were not aware of how the EMA system works and the difficulty it caused young carers. We were questioned on what parts of the motion we would like to be in the Young People’s Strategy Plan, and praised for bringing such an important issue to the council. The motion was passed and we cannot wait to see it being taken forward. I am very proud to have been part of this, and hopefully see an improvement in Young Carers’ lives.

Nicola Pringle MSYP





Youth democracy descends on Shetland

July 1st, 2014

Scottish Youth Parliament Press Office

Youth democracy descends on Shetland

This weekend, the Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP) will host its 54th Annual Sitting and AGM in Lerwick Town Hall, Lerwick, Shetland Islands.

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.

DSC00053Speaking before the event, the Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament, Kyle Thornton MSYP said:

“I’m pleased that SYP will be in the Shetland Islands for our 2014 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.

“I also hope the Sitting location shows our commitment to being a Youth Parliament for all of Scotland’s young people by ensuring our island communities get their fair share of National Sittings held in their area. SYP54 will be a fantastic event and I look forward to our action packed agenda.”

Catherine Hannah, MSYP for Shetland, is very excited to be welcoming her fellow MSYPs to her hometown for the Sitting this weekend. Catherine said:

“Kaylee Mouat and I, the two MSYPs for Shetland, are both very excited for this Sitting to be held in Shetland. This is a great occasion for all of our fellow MSYPs because Shetland has a very different setting and atmosphere compared to other places where previous Sittings have been held. Shetland is a very unique place, with its own needs.

“We are planning a reception at our town hall in the evening which will showcase our traditional music as well as other entertainment. This should give MSYPs an insight into what Shetland is really like. I hope that all the MSYPs are just as excited as I am because our Sittings provide great opportunities to see different places in Scotland, especially the more remote areas such as Shetland.”

 Also speaking ahead of the event, Convener of Shetland Islands Council, Malcolm Bell said:

“The visit of the Scottish Youth Parliament is a very significant event for Shetland.  I look forward to welcoming the 110 plus members, staff and support workers and I am sure they will find Shetland supportive hosts as they debate important issues, including development of the ‘Care.Fair.Share.’ campaign which aims to support young carers.  Shetland is well served by our local MSYPs Kaylee Mouat and Catherine Hannah and I applaud the decision to take a Sitting of the SYP to Shetland at what is a historic time in Scottish politics.”

Aye Naw Mibbe – Robbie Nicoll MSYP

July 1st, 2014

Robbie Nicoll MSYP PCWhen looking for statistics about how many young people are registered to vote in the independence referendum, I stumbled across some comments which deemed young people “too immature” to be allowed the right to vote. I was surprised to see that such out of touch views still existed and it made me reflect on the campaign efforts of the Scottish Youth Parliament to get the important democratic right to vote for 16-and-17-year-olds. I believe that the recent efforts of the Membership of the Scottish Youth Parliament, especially from the 5 Participation Champions, to encourage young voter engagement and registration as part of the Aye Naw Mibbe project, proves this opinion to be completely wrong.

My time as a Participation Champion so far has been rewarding. I have worked with many young people, encouraging them to add their names to the 98,000 young people who have already registered, and informing them of the process of voting on the day. These past three months have seen more and more young people engage with the referendum through events such as the National Library of Scotland debate, where around 100 young people quizzed a panel of Yes Scotland and Better Together representatives. This is an example of how we are making a positive change and showing that young people can and will use their vote to influence the outcome of this huge decision.

However, as roughly 10% of young people are still to be registered to be able to vote, we as Participation Champions will not be resting on our laurels. We will be giving MSYPs more in-depth knowledge and details about the Aye Naw Mibbe project during our 54th National Sitting, which is taking place in Shetland on the 5th and 6th of July 2014. I am looking forward to this and I know all my fellow MSYPs are too. This is an opportunity to involve all MSYPs with the work we’re doing as Participation Champions, and this will support the encouragement of democratic participation in every corner of Scotland.

So, to the person who deemed 16-and-17-year-olds too immature to be allowed to vote, here is your evidence that young people can and will use their vote on the 18th September – as long as we as an organisation continue to inform and engage young people.


Robbie Nicoll MSYP

Angus North and Mearns

SYP54

June 27th, 2014

SYP54

Lerwick Town Hall, Shetland Islands

Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th July 2014

There is only one week to go until our July 2014 National Sitting and AGM in Lerwick Town Hall, Lerwick, Shetland Islands. There will be a lot of exciting activities going on and it is set to be a fantastic weekend! Check out what Catherine Hannah MSYP, Kyle Thornton MSYP, and Convener of the Shetland Islands Council Malcolm Bell, all had to say ahead of SYP54.

Speaking about her excitement to welcome the SYP Membership to Shetland, Catherine Hannah MSYP said:

“Kaylee Mouat and I, the two MSYPs for Shetland, are both very excited for the next Sitting to be held in Shetland. It is only one week away now! We feel this is a great occasion for all of our fellow MSYPs because Shetland has a very different setting and atmosphere compared to other places where previous Sittings have been held. Shetland is a very unique place, which you will notice when you arrive off of the ferry on the 5th of July. As this Sitting is the AGM, it makes it all the more special for it to be held in Shetland.

“We are planning a reception at our town hall in the evening which will showcase our traditional music as well as other entertainment. This should give you an insight into what Shetland is really like. We hope that all the MSYPs are just as excited as we are because this is a great opportunity to see different places in Scotland, especially the more remote areas such as Shetland.”

Also speaking before the event, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament, Kyle Thornton MSYP said:

“I’m pleased that SYP will be in the Shetland Islands for our 2014 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.

“I also hope the Sitting location shows our commitment to being a Youth Parliament for all of Scotland’s young people by ensuring our island communities get their fair share of National Sittings held in their area. SYP54 will be a fantastic event and I look forward to our action packed agenda.”

Also speaking ahead of the event, Convener of the Shetland Islands Council, Malcolm Bell said:

“The visit of the Scottish Youth Parliament is a very significant event for Shetland.  I look forward to welcoming the 120 plus members, staff and support workers and I am sure they will find Shetland supportive hosts as they debate important issues, including development of the ‘Care.Fair.Share.’ campaign which aims to support young carers.  Shetland is well served by our local MSYPs Kaylee Mouat and Catherine Hannah, and I applaud the decision to take a Sitting of the SYP to Shetland at what is a historic time in Scottish politics.”

You can find all the information and updates about the Sitting here.

You can also download the MSYP pack here.



#YouthCab Event – Louise Cameron MSYP

June 19th, 2014

DSC00044The event with the Scottish Government Cabinet is an incredible opportunity for young people to get the answers to the independence referendum questions that they really want to know. Young people want to be able to engage with and shape the debate, and this opportunity is a key moment which will allow them to do so. I feel so honoured to be co-hosting an event that is so substantial and is going to engage young people, as well as give them the opportunities to pose the questions that they need answered in order to make an informed decision on the independence debate.

For the first time in the history of our country 16-and-17-year-olds are going to have the chance to use their vote to shape their country and their future. It is vitally important that we as a generation are fully committed to using this vote to make our voices heard and to make the future of our country what we want it to be.

It is really positive and encouraging for me to witness how many young people are doing their research, discussing the issues, and enjoying debating with others about the decision between yes and no. It is such an exciting time for the future of our country and whichever way the vote goes, it will change our lives in Scotland. We have a real opportunity here to show just how interested we are in the future of our country, and it cannot be wasted. This event is a very positive step from the Scottish Government to ensure young people are engaged in the debate, and I would like to applaud them for including 16-and-17-year-olds in the decision about our future.

At an exciting time that will be documented in history forever, this is a chance to ensure young people are as engaged as possible and that the importance of their involvement in democratic debate is recognised.

You can find out more information about the event, which will take place on Friday 20th June 2014 at Glasgow SECC, here.

If you have questions about the independence referendum for the First Minister, Alex Salmond, and the Scottish Government Cabinet, you can get involved in the Q&A by following @Scotgov and #YouthCab.

Louise Cameron MSYP

Vice Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament