What a fantastic weekend of activity, debate, and celebration and what a fantastic display of direct democracy.
We have had a jammed pack weekend with some fantastic Members Motions debates, active and engaging subject committees, a wonderful SYP Awards last night, and inspiring keynote speaker and many more.
Firstly, could I extend my sincerest thanks to Bill and his team, and to Stirling and Clackmannanshire Councils for hosting what has been a fantastic weekend. Without your hard work, the weekend would not have been the success that it has.
SYP National Sittings are the time when we come together as a full parliament, they are the cornerstones of SYP, they are why many of us became MSYPs… because we want a platform to be able to represent the views of young people, and bring about positive change shaped by those views.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you, our MSYPs, for once again raising the bar in terms of the energy, enthusiasm and quality of our sittings. YOU, are the life-blood of SYP. Without your hard work, SYP would not be able to perform in the way that it does, and without you, we will not be able to continue to raise the bar.
I want to focus my final remarks on the future, the rest of 2014. What a year we have ahead of us, what a year for the young people of Scotland.
This is our time, it’s our place.
This year we, as MSYPs, as young people, have the opportunity to bring about significant change.
Turning to our national campaign, we have a huge opportunity to make a difference to the lives of young carers in Scotland. These young people provide an invaluable service to their families, their communities to their country. We know that many of these young people are facing significant financial hardship; many of them are struggling to make ends meet.
This is not fair, they deserve better, and we can fight to get them a better deal.
SYP Campaigns are not about a small number of people, not just the Board, not just the Conveners, not just staff. They are about all of us! They need all of you in order to be successful! Many of you have been doing some fantastic work in your local areas, keep it up and let’s challenge ourselves to do even more!
The level of twitter activity this weekend has been amazing, let’s keep it up! SYP relies on you, to get the key messages of our projects and campaigns out there, we need your re-tweets, your favourites, your likes, your shares! I am sure most of you will have now joined the SYP Thunderclap for Care.Fair.Share. this weekend, go out and encourage other young people to do the same.
Rhoda Grant MSP has recently submitted a motion to the Scottish Parliament on CareFairShare. If the motion gets enough signatures from MSPs from all parties, we will have a full debate in the Scottish Parliament about Care.Fair.Share. This is a fantastic opportunity, but we need your help! We need you to email and write to all your MSPs and encourage them to sign this motion.
I really encourage all of you to get stuck into the campaign, use your toolkit, tweet, re-tweet, share, write blogs for the SYP Website, keep up to date by reading the SYP News, which from January is now issued every fortnight.
If there is anything you need help with, or if you have suggestions about how we could improve the MSYP toolkit or the campaign itself, contact the Board, Conveners or Staff members at any time. We are only too happy to help!
In order to be able to assess whether our campaign has been a success, we need to keep track of all the fantastic work we are doing. So I would really encourage you all to work with the Conveners and Staff to feedback all of your fantastic work. On a final note about the campaign, I would just like to pay tribute to Lauren King. Lauren, thank you for all of your hard work on the campaign so far, you were the person who championed this issue from its very beginnings here at SYP and you continue to be the strong CareFairShare advocate we have – thank you.
The 18th of September 2014 will be historic day for Scotland, when the Scottish people will carve their own futures.
Young people, above all other groups, have a massive stake in this important decision about Scotland’s future. It’s vitally important that whatever our view is, we make that view known by casting our vote.
A lot has been said in the media recently about young people being disengaged from politics, and disengaged from the referendum. All of us in this room over the course of this weekend know differently. We know that young people are very engaged and interested when they are given the space to talk about the issues they want to talk about. We know from our work with SYP that, YES, many young people are disengaged with politics, but it is the confrontational, party political spin politics that puts them off.
We know that young people find it difficult to relate what has commonly known to be “modern politics”, characterised by suits and bitter fights across the floor of parliament and in the national media, to their everyday lives.
All of us have a very important role to play over the coming months. We must work together with other organisations to ensure that young people have access to the sources of impartial information and opportunities to engage that will give them the knowledge and confidence to make an informed decision for themselves.
We must work together to challenge both campaigns, and the political parties to present their arguments in a more positive light, rather than focussing on discrediting the arguments of others. Young people need to be given clear answers about the different options for their future, free from spin and polished answers.
If young people have this information, a clear understanding of the options available to them and an opportunity to speak to the campaigns on their owns terms, in their own environment, getting real answers to their questions, they will engage, they will think about their futures, they will vote.
Our recently launched Aye, Naw, Mibbe project aims to increase awareness about the importance of voting and civic participation. SYP have been working with other organisations across the third sector to develop a joined up approach to helping steer young people to the sources of information and opportunities to engage.
Our youth engagement team will be out on the ground in schools, in universities and colleges, in youth clubs talking about Aye, Naw, Mibbe, talking about the importance of registering to vote. We will be doing a lot of work online trying to direct young people to our online Aye, Naw, Mibbe hub.
We need your help! Contact SYP and find our youth engagement team will be in your area, and go out and speak to young people. Tweet, re-tweet, share and promote the importance of the participation of young people.
By working together, we can help provide young people with the knowledge and confidence to engage with the debate, find out what they think for themselves, and make an informed decision.
This year is a massive year for young people, it’s a year where all of us can make a real difference.
This is our time to speak up for Scotland’s young people, more than ever before.
That is the year ahead of us.
I have just a few announcements to make before we leave.
I am delighted to announce that the our 54th National Sitting will take place on 4th-7th June in Shetland, and our 55th National Sitting will take place on the 4th and 5th of October in Perth.
Once again could I thank Bill and all his team for their hard work, could I thank all of the support workers for all the work they do to support us as MSYPs and for facilitating our involvement this weekend.
Most of all, can I thank all of you for, once again, raising the bar, for continuously improving what we do, and for making this weekend such a fantastic and memorable occasion.
See you in Shetland.