It’s my absolute pleasure to welcome you all to the Scottish Youth Parliament’s 52nd Sitting being held here in sunny Dundee. We have a fantastic weekend lined up with members motions, quickfire policy, European hustings and selecting our new national campaign for 2014 and everything else we do at our sittings.
I’m very pleased to also introduce to you our new staff team. Our team don’t just do a job, they put a little bit of their passion in giving young people a voice, in everything they do and I am so proud to lead an organisation that they are a part of. I’d like you to give a warm SYP welcome to Jenny, our Development Manager; Rosy, our events officer; Jamie, our Youth Engagement Co-Ordinatior; Callum, one of our Youth Engagement Workers; Rhiannon, our other Youth Engagement Worker; Gareth, our Public Affairs Co-Ordinator and of course our Chief Executive, Hamira Khan. We are also in the process of recruiting three more staff members to support us in our work and I look forward to introducing them to you at our next sitting.
As an organisation, we’re going from strength to strength. We have fantastic MSYPs and a great staff team but I’d also like to thank the rest of the board for their work since they were elected 4 months ago. Louise, Rhiordan, Kris, Rachel, Junaid and Scott are some of the most inspiring people to work with and I’m very proud to call them my board colleagues.
As a board, we’re been focused on delivering for MSYPs. Now, it takes time for some changes but I’m happy that this weekend one promise will kept; the return of Board Q&A, in full as promised. I can also announce that after the sitting we will be holding a consultation on evening entertainments at sittings to give MSYPs a chance to let us know what exactly they want to see at a sitting. Of course, our sittings are limited by budgets but we are much more able to maximise our resources when we know what MSYPs want to see.
Firstly, I need to run through some of the housekeeping instructions. We are happy for you to use your phone and tablets to tweet and access documents but please put them on silent so they don’t interrupt any of the sessions; there are toilets at the back of the hall, in the foyer and upstairs; the smoking area is through the cafe area, not at the front of the building or car park; tea and coffee will be available throughout the weekend, and there will be lunch and breaks but please try not to leave a session.
We aren’t expecting a fire alarm, so if it goes off we will be evacuating teh building. The muster point is to the rear of the building on the grass next to the car park. If we need to exit the building, you must report to your Supper Worker, who will let the staff know you are here. If your support worker isn’t here, please report to Jamie Dunlop- he will know who he is expecting, so if you don’t turn up we will send the emergency services looking for you.
If we do need to evacuate the building or have any other incidents, then please don’t tweet or post anything on Social Media, or text/call anyone to tell them. This can make situations difficult to resolve and can have a negative impact on SYP but don’t worry, we’re not expecting anything to happen!
The first aider this weekend is Rosy Burgess – if you feel unwell or need first aid, please find a staff member in a blue polo shirt and they will contact Rosy for you.
Now that we’ve got that all away, we can get the weekend started. I’d like to thank Dundee City Council for their support in preparing the sitting and our caterers, S-Word, a programme that helps young people in Dundee to develop skills and experience in catering and support them in their job search.
We have a packed weekend coming up but I think it’s important we take a moment to think about why we’re here. We’re here to represent the young that elected us just six months ago. We’re here to speak up for the young people in our local areas and about what they’re concerned with, what will make their lives better and what our Government can do to make Scotland the best place for them to live in.
And let’s take a moment to celebrate a very recent campaign success. For over a year, we’ve been campaigning for the Scottish Living Wage as part of our One Fair Wage campaign. One of the pragmatic options we put forward to the Scottish Parliament was for a Scottish Living Wage Employer Recognition Scheme.
I’m very proud that last weekend the Deputy First Minister announced that the Scottish Government would be putting our idea into practice with an accreditation scheme to be introduced in the near future.
Once again, the Scottish Youth Parliament has recognised a principle, we’ve campaigned for it, we’ve developed real practical proposals and we’ve seen the Government listen and take action. Ladies and Gentlemen, we should be very proud that we are delivering for Scotland’s young people.
This weekend, I hope we’ll be starting a fresh campaign journey that will have similar successes when we choose our new national campaign.
I know for many of you this is your first full sitting filled with debates and campaigns. I’d like to add a special welcome to Amy Lee, David, Samuel and Ryan who have all recently been elected to SYP in by-elections and for whom this is their first ever sitting.
Now, it’s time to get started.