As Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYPs), we work with a number of different individuals and organisations throughout our term of service. Understanding the dynamics of working in partnership and building sustainable relationships was the discussion on the agenda for the Justice Committee at the October 2013 SYP Sitting in Dundee, specifically working in partnership as MSYPs with Police Scotland.
For the Justice Committee meeting, we were housed in the gym hall of the Menzieshill Community Centre. The hall, being too cold to sit and discuss a complex topic for too long, required the Justice Committee to throw off the shackles of being a “boring” Committee by playing a name game called “the zombie name game” which quickly got the Committee Members laughing and moving.
It was then time to work!
Invited along to speak was Kenny Lindsey, Head of the Dundee Youth Engagement team. Kenny gave examples of how the youth engagement team has worked with Police Scotland and young people to create a working relationship between the two groups in Dundee. These examples of partnerships and relationships were coupled by examples from Members of the Committee from rural backgrounds. Members gave examples of events that have been held in the Highlands which invited Police officers along to talk and hear young people’s views and concerns in terms of how the police approach young people. However, the communication approach and the approach of police listening to young people was somewhat converse to that of Members from more urban backgrounds. The Members who recognised this have gone back to their constituency to work on this issue.
During the discussion period, the Committee Members came across an issue which they felt was clear discrimination towards young people. The Committee will be working together in the weeks to come to design a Members’ Motion for the next Sitting put forward on behalf of the Justice committee, so watch this space…
At this point we saw the departure of Kenny Lindsey, he was thanked for his participation and the group gave him a round of applause.
So far there had been great input from the Committee in the first half of the session, stimulating discussion between all participants with some exciting ideas and suggestions for the future. However, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy (The Shining, 1980). Not in the Justice Committee, the Committee was led through a fun energiser where they stood in a circle and with different parts of their bodies; e.g. finger, hip & foot tried to draw an invisible picture of a beautiful beach with a warm sun, blue ocean and a colourful palm tree. However it must be said that I have my doubts if any of the Members of the Committee will be the next Van Gogh or Rennie Mackintosh!
With the Members wiggling and shaking their butts everyone was clearly having a good time! With the hilarity subsiding slightly, the Members were split into two groups: one group to discuss and present the positive aspects of working in partnership with Police Scotland; and, the other group discussing and presenting the negatives of that partnership. The results were discussed by the Membership and it was agreed the partnership is overall a good thing and Police Scotland were commended on their recent reform and work towards making young people a bigger part of their community work.
Continuing the idea of partnership with the Committee, the Members went into their groups again. This time, they were tasked with designing an event, thinking of the aim, participant organisations/ individuals, communication (before, during & after the event), location and target audience. The two groups returned with two unique and individual events. The first was a template for engaging young people in the independence referendum for SYP, working in partnership with schools. This template, through discussion with the Members, could be considered by SYP for official use in the future.
The second group created an event intended for ex-youth-offenders, aged 18-25, with the aim of getting those young people involved in education through vocational and non-vocational courses at local colleges. The partners for the event included; SYP, local colleges, and job centres giving young people who may have felt disinterested or neglected by the education system in the past the opportunity to see what is on offer in their local area. The suggestion by group 2 highlights that, as MSYPs, we represent a large spectrum of young people from the age of 12-25 and when we are designing projects we must make sure we try to reach those aged 18-25, who may be in college, university, apprenticeships, full/ part time work or unemployed and to ensure everyone is represented in the work we carry out on a national and local level.
Finally, the Members came up with a suggestion for the next Sitting Committee meeting. After a group discussion, the floor was opened to further suggestions. All suggestions focused on joint committee work and these suggestions have been taken into consideration and a decision will be made by the Committee at an online vote in the near future.
With a focus on future partnerships within the SYP subject committees, two unique and wonderful partnership events designed by the Committee Members, a Committee Members’ Motion suggestion and some fun and games, it is clear that the SYP Justice Committee took to the subject of partnerships and relationships like a fish to water. As the Convener, I would like to conclude by saying thank you to my entire committee, to the staff who helped set up the meeting, Kenny Lindsey for coming along and participating and to the city of Dundee for hosting the Sitting.
Joshua McCormick MSYP, Cunninghame South
Convener of the SYP Justice Committee