Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Youth organisations launch dedicated young voter week

Saturday, August 16th, 2014

RSV  logoScottish Youth Parliament Press Office 

Youth organisations launch dedicated young voter week

A group of organisations who work with young people in Scotland has launched a week of action devoted to encouraging young people to register to vote for the referendum on Scotland’s constitutional future. Every day throughout the week will be dedicated to ensuring Scotland’s young people are empowered and ready to have their say.

The group, convened by the Scottish Youth Parliament in January 2014, includes a range of organisations which have adopted a neutral stance on the referendum, across the voluntary, youth work and educational sectors, as well as both campaigns and the Electoral Commission. The aim of the group was to consider ways to encourage collaboration and joint working in relation to young voter engagement and registration in advance of the referendum.

Ready, Steady, Vote Week, a product of the group, is a dedicated week, primarily co-ordinated through online, digital media and social media, to raise awareness about the importance of voting with young people.

Speaking ahead of the launch of Ready, Steady, Vote Week on Saturday, Louise Cameron MSYP, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament said:

“I feel that it is very important that young people use their right to vote. It is important that we have our say about issues that affect us as young people, especially in such a major decision like the future of our country. The point of Ready, Steady, Vote Week is to raise awareness of the importance of voting with young people, and to point them to sources of impartial information about voter registration and other issues so as they can make an informed decision for themselves.”

Also speaking ahead of the launch, Gordon Maloney, President of the National Union of Students in Scotland said:

“Over the past two years, we’ve seen amazing work from students’ associations across Scotland in helping facilitate discussion and debate among their members over how education, housing and other issues will be effected by the outcome of the referendum vote.

“Ready, Steady, Vote week will mark the beginning of a final push to get students and young people registered to vote in Scotland. With two weeks to go before the September 2 registration deadline, it’s more important than ever that we ensure that students and young people are able to take part in the most important decision faced by Scotland in the past 300 years.

“By asking students and young people to encourage their friends to register,  NUS Scotland, SYP and other participating organisations in Ready, Steady, Vote Week will help allow all sides of the debate, and Scotland as a whole, to know the impact of students and young people in determining Scotland’s future.”

Youth Democracy Elects New Young Leaders

Wednesday, 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

Saturday, 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

Saturday, 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.

Youth democracy descends on Shetland

Tuesday, 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.”

Wood Commission Findings

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

Scottish Youth Parliament Press Office

June 3, 2014


Wood Commission Findings

Scottish Youth Parliament say could make significant impact

The employment prospects of the young people of Scotland could be significantly enhanced if the Scottish Government implements the proposals recommended by the Commission for Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce. This is the view of the Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament, Kyle Thornton MSYP.

The Scottish Youth Parliament, along with partner organisations, NUS Scotland and Young Scot, held a consultation day with young people to feed into the Commission’s Interim report earlier this year. Young people from various backgrounds discussed their views on the suitability of careers education, their experiences of trying to find employment and their ideas for improvement.

The young people made several recommendations to the Commission including the need for higher quality careers education and work experience, more investment in vocational pathways and greater partnerships between businesses and educational institutions.

Speaking on the day of the launch, Kyle Thornton MSYP, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament said:

“This report sets out a series of very positive and forward thinking recommendations which seek to bridge the gap between our young people’s education and their future employment opportunities. Young people across Scotland consistently tell the Scottish Youth Parliament that youth unemployment is the biggest issue facing them.”

“The Scottish Youth Parliament was pleased that several recommendations that were made after a discussion day with young people, hosted by ourselves, Young Scot and NUS Scotland in partnership with the Commission, are included in the final report, including the need for stronger partnerships between businesses and educational institutions and more high quality fit-for-purpose work experience opportunities and careers guidance.”

“These recommendations have the potential to make a significant positive impact on the employment prospects of our young people, and we would encourage the Scottish Government to seriously consider how these proposals could be implemented in the near future.”


Scottish Youth Parliament launches young voter engagement project

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

Today, 5th February which is National Voter Registration Day, the Scottish Youth Parliament launched its young voter engagement project, “Aye, Naw, Mibbe: a little about politics, a lot about you”.

This project will help ensure that young people have access to impartial information, such as how to register to vote, and will be able to keep up to date with opportunities to engage in the debate with upcoming events. In addition, the project will also be a source of information to practitioners and those who work with young people by offering advice and resources about how to discuss the referendum in an impartial and safe manner.

The Scottish Youth Parliament recently convened a reference group of organisations who want to ensure that the views of young people are heard in the forthcoming debate on Scotland’s constitutional future, with a particular emphasis on hard to reach young people.

In addition, the Scottish Youth Parliament will receive additional funding support from the Cabinet Office detailed in an announcement this afternoon.  Five organisations, including the Scottish Youth Parliament, have been selected to receive funding to find new ways of reaching out to groups who feel most distant from the political process, and encouraging them to get involved in politics and register to vote.

Speaking on the day of the launch after the funding announcement, Kyle Thornton MSYP, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament said:

“The Scottish Youth Parliament is excited to be working with the Cabinet Office to improve voter registration.  Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament have worked tirelessly to engage young people in democratic participation.  We believe it is important the voices of young people are heard in elections, and we’re delighted to have the opportunity this year to increase the democratic engagement and registration of 16 and 17 year olds, and young people aged 18-24 on the electoral register in Scotland.”

The focal point of the project will be an online hub, which will hold access to resources and other materials for young people and practitioners. The hub,, will be launched in the near future.

Scottish Youth Parliament Launch Campaign for Young Carers

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

Young Carers in Scotland are currently facing a standard of living issue, which in many cases is forcing them to compromise on opportunities readily available to their peers. This will be the focus of the Scottish Youth Parliament’s National Campaign for 2014.


Today, the Scottish Youth Parliament launched their National Campaign, ‘Care.Fair.Share.’, to urge the Scottish Government to ease the financial strain facing young carers.


The Scottish Youth Parliament consulted widely about young carers in Scotland during the formation of its youth manifesto, “Change the Picture”, in 2010. The manifesto received nearly 43,000 responses from young people across Scotland, of which 88% indicated that the Government should develop a young carers strategy.


The campaign seeks to ensure that carers are treated fairly by society and government policies, and that their caring situations should not prevent them from further education and engaging in social activities. Several avenues will be pursued to alleviate  the financial difficulties faced by many young carers, including:


  • addressing anomalies in the administration of the Educational Maintenance Allowance that result in many young carers losing their EMA entitlement;
  • additional funding and bursary opportunities for young carers struggling to afford further education due to their caring responsibilities; and,
  • avenues to alleviate the cost of travel for young carers between school, work, and home to fulfil their caring and educational responsibilities. 


As a young carer herself, Lauren King, MSYP for Motherwell and Wishaw, is very passionate about the campaign.


Speaking ahead of the launch, Lauren said:

“As a young person who has a significant caring role, I am very aware how challenging it can be to manage your day-to-day duties while fulfilling your role as a young carer and simultaneously striving to achieve your full potential. As such, I am delighted that the Scottish Youth Parliament has chosen to campaign for young carers.

“I believe the most challenging aspect for many young carers is multi-tasking. It is a constant struggle to make ends meet. Alongside caring duties there is simply not enough time to financially make ends meet and also prioritise education and other opportunities.


Speaking about the campaign, Kyle Thornton SYP Chair said:

“MSYPs from all over Scotland are incredibly passionate about this campaign and want to make a difference for Scotland’s young carers. These young people provide an invaluable service to their families and society, and should not have to face this hardship.

“I would encourage everyone to help raise awareness and lend their support to this campaign.”


Speaking about the campaign, Minister for Public Health Michael Matheson said:

“Young carers are a vital part of our society and I know the very real contribution they make to the lives of those they care for. I am pleased that the Scottish Youth Parliament is highlighting the issues young carers face through their national campaign.   It is important that young carers have the same opportunities as other young people.  We have now launched our carers’ consultation which we hope many young carers will feed into.  This, along with our young carers strategy will improve support for young carers across Scotland.”


Speaking about the campaign, Minister for Children and Young People Aileen Campbell said:

“The Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill will further Scotland’s ambition to be the best place to grow up. The Bill includes key elements of GIRFEC (Getting It Right for Every Child) which puts the child and young person and their wellbeing at the centre of the design, planning and delivery of services. We welcome the Scottish Youth Parliament’s campaign to raise awareness of the important role young carers play in supporting and caring for family members.”


A New Year Message – Kyle Thornton MSYP, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014


We Need to Talk About Europe

Friday, December 6th, 2013

This weekend, a delegation of MSYPs attended the “We Need to Talk About Europe” Conference in Belfast, hosted by WIMPS and Public Achievement.

The conference focused on how young people can be engaged in European politics ahead of the European Parliament elections next year.  The conference was timely for the Scottish Youth Parliament, given our recent project, Audio Europa, aimed at encouraging people to vote in the European Parliament elections in May 2014.  WIMPS were also launching their Be Counted campaign, with similar aims.

Not only were the various discussions, debates and panel Q&As based on involving people in the decisions which affect their lives, but the process of bringing together young people from throughout the UK meant there was opportunity to put the principles debated into practice.  Informally, we shared our experiences of voting, work in our local communities and sharing our enthusiasm for politics with our peers.


There were some excellent debates (some of which got pretty heated!) and panels to question throughout the weekend.


Some of the interesting themes and questions presented included:

  • The use of the term young people.  Should being under 25 mean you have to be categorised differently by decision makers seeking to engage you or win your vote?  Do laws and decisions not affect those who are aged 5, 12, 16, 18, 25, 45 and 80 equally?
  • Those attending the conference were representing all areas of the UK. When MSYPs asked others what they enjoyed about the conference, most people said it was engaging with others from around the UK.  Given the many layers of legislatures in the UK, and the many identities people in the UK adopt, regardless of the extent to which they would consider themselves, how easy is it to engage in European politics?  Discussions often turned back to local issues and it was fascinating to hear the issues affecting people from around the UK in their local areas.  Does the work of the European Parliament need to be localised in order for us to be engaged?
  • Does having the right to vote equate to having the responsibility to vote?
  • Does the term “disengaged” lay blame or fault with those who don’t participate?  Could you define the difference between unengaged and disengaged?  Do the different definitions require different approaches when discussing participation?
  • Young people: the future or the here and now?  Discuss….(and we did)


Here’s what some of us had to say about the weekend:

“It was great to meet with people throughout the UK to improve relations between young people and politics, and to talk about the European Union and how it affects our lives.  It was especially good to meet people from Northern Ireland, and to gain a better understanding of politics in the country and how communities and youth organisations are building a new politics with new hope for the future.”

Gary Paterson, MSYP

I really enjoyed engaging with people from around the UK and NI politicians, as the system is so different.  It was great to learn more about it.”

Nairn McDonald, MSYP

There was interesting debate on my suggested topic of “Engaging the Disengaged”.  I learned more about what the European Parliament actually does – it’s not just fisheries!”

Terri Smith, MSYP

The opportunity to engage with people from across the UK was a fantastic one.  In particular, it provided us with a platform to discuss European democracy and parliamentary participation which is important as the EU institutions account for 50% of our law making.  I look forward to taking back what I have learned and the passionate discussions we have had ensuring that Scotland’s young people have similar opportunities to discuss European parliamentary participation, and get out and vote!

Jordan Linden, MSYP


I enjoyed the passionate debate with young people.  I have also learned a lot about myself and it offered me the chance to consider and challenge my own views.  Sometimes you need to be in a situation like this, discussing your views and those of the young people of Scotland, to reflect on your opinions.

Sian Hughes, MSYP


The “We Need to Talk About Europe” conference in Belfast provided a great opportunity for young people from across the UK to engage in meaningful debates and discussions around the European community and disengagement with the political process.  I enjoyed hearing regional perspectives towards Europe and, yet again, young people’s passion for social change was evident.  I am extremely proud of the contributions made by Team Scotland delegates to what was a fantastic weekend.”

David Stewart


We also asked some of our colleagues from around the UK for their views on the conference.


The best thing about the conference was the diversity of the young people who attended.  There were so many different political backgrounds there.

Mickey Murray, WIMPS Coach


I enjoyed meeting people from the different regions and getting to hear why they are involved in politics in their local area.  It was great to discuss what is happening in the EU to good to discuss how young people could be more involved.  It was also good to meet some of the Northern Ireland MLAs.

Richard Murphy, WIMPS Coach


It was lovely to investigate the thoughts of members of the Scottish Youth Parliament and to engage socially.  Examining the differences between Funky Dragon and the Scottish Youth Parliament will be really beneficial to the development of our organisations.  The Cardiff Youth Council look forward to any opportunity to work with the Scottish Youth Parliament

Sydney Isaac and Samuel Paterson, Cardiff Youth Council (thanks guys, we’re blushing!)


We’d like to finish by saying a huge thank you to our hosts, WIMPS and Public Achievement.  The conference was a great chance to debate with like minded, politically charged young people from around the UK.  With new friendships forged and lots of ideas to bring back to our constituencies, we’re looking forward to May 2014 and being counted.