By Grant Costello MSYP, SYP Chair
It’s been a busy New Year for the SYP but we of course would have it no other way! The news has been quoting us, the calls have been coming in left, right and centre and best of all our campaign is starting to get the continued attention that it has long deserved. As many of you will be aware the staff team and I have been working night and day to try and ensure that our “Love Equally” message is getting spread far and wide across Scotland and with our campaigning partners (LGBT Youth Scotland, NUS Scotland’s LGBT Campaign, Stonewall Scotland and the Equality Network). I am so pleased to say that this message is spreading and this will be so important come the day, February 14th when we all march down the Royal Mile in support of equal marriage and the right of people who are in love to be treated and respected in the same way. I cannot wait to see every single one of you there!
But the media hasn’t been my only focus for our campaign. I have been trying to work with young people, Scottish Government Ministers and civil servants, our partner organisations and MSPs in general. I have been busy attending LGBT Youth Scotland’s consultation event in Edinburgh, a fantastic event where I got the chance to have a strong and in-depth conversion with the civil servant heading up the review of this Scottish Government’s Same Sex Marriage Consultation. I’ve also been meeting with MSPs such as the Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Willie Rennie MSP, the SNP’s Linda Fabiani MSP, Fiona McLeod MSP and the Minister for Children and Young People Aileen Campbell MSP and the former Leader of the Scottish Conservative Party Annabel Goldie, to ensure that the support for this important campaign remains strong and high on the agenda. I have meet with Tom French from the Equality Network numerous times and took part in a press conference held live from the SYP’s own offices further promoting our campaign.
I have attended many different Parliamentary groups and events such as an consultation event held by Jackie Baillie MSP on the Welfare Reform Bill going through Westminster and an important meeting of the Children and Young People’s Cross Party Group on the same topic. Many of these events have been important networking events that will hopefully prove important to the SYP in the every near future as we continue to grow and grow faster than we could even have expected.
In recent months we have had Andrew Deans MSYP, Austin Sheridan MSYP as well as myself and many others, all in numerous newspapers or internet articles, illustrating to all the doubters out there of the passion and ability of all MSYPs in the SYP. But to ensure this continues this restructuring will be essential. Recently I brought onto the SYP Board as an unpaid advisor Scott Douglas, someone who has been in the centre of the media and PR for 25 years. He will become invaluable as together as an organisation we evolve into an even more power voice for the young people of Scotland.
Another important announcement comes as our Sitting nears very close, with the sitting review all done and dusted it was very clear that Members Motions were a massive hit but we just didn’t have the time to get through all the excellent Motions that we had. Therefore I can announce that at the March Sitting we will have an increased time limit on the Members Motions. This is a vitally important part of our sittings as it allows us as the membership of the SYP to bring forward the many concerns of our constituents and make solutions to these problems SYP core policy.
As you will all know the SYP had our official office opening and it was a massive success with so many important members of civic Scotland joining us at our offices and the newly appointed Minister for Children and Young people in attendance to open our offices was a real honour. But the biggest congratulations must go out to all the pass, present and future MSYPs of this organisation. Without young people so passionate like we MSYPs the SYP would not exists. This celebration was the opening of a new chapter for the Scottish Youth Parliament, but also a landmark of celebration for the passion and effort put in by all MSYPs in the decade that we have existed.
With the Scottish Government’s intention to give 16 and 17 year olds the vote in the referendum I have been extremely busy working with all of our partner organisations, the staff and of course the media to ensure that the Scottish Youth Parliament’s position is very clear. This has been very difficult but the rewards of our efforts are being seen with the media attention our support for votes at 16 for the referendum and all future elections has been drawing up. We need to be very clear to every that we at the SYP believe in votes at 16 and we want to see the young people of Scotland not just have their say in a one-off referendum but in all future elections and referendums.
I have also been working a lot closer with Amnesty International Scotland to develop an important relationship. Their help with getting out our “Love Equally” message has been very helpful and I can promise every member of the SYP that for as long as I am your chair that I will continue to work tirelessly to continue to develop strong and long lasting networks for the SYP and future generations of MSYPs to use and evolve our organisation.