Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

#TellTheUN – @JLindenMSYP, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament

Monday, August 31st, 2015

On Wednesday 2nd and Thursday 3rd September, the Vice Chairperson of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, Ms. Amal Aldoseri will visit Scotland to hear directly from Scotland’s children and young people about their experiences of life here in our country.

The visit will help the UN Committee with its consideration of how Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom are performing in relation to promoting and protecting the rights of children and young people as outlined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.Jordan Linden Chair

For me, this is an incredible opportunity for children and young people to have their voices heard loudly, clearly and directly by the United Nations about what they feel is working well, and what needs to be improved.

As the democratically elected voice of Scotland’s young people, Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People, Tam Baillie, has asked the Scottish Youth Parliament, and myself as the newly elected Chair along with our Board, to act as the key host for the duration of the visit, on behalf of Scotland’s children and young people.

At the Scottish Youth Parliament, our role is to represent and make strong links with the young people we represent locally. Therefore, during Ms Aldoseri’s visit we will be escorting her around a number of projects and discussion groups to showcase the fantastic work many organisations do to promote the rights and the participation of children and young people, but also to highlight the areas where we can work together to improve.

As part of the visit, wIMG_2192e want to make sure that young people across Scotland can get involved and feel like they are a part of Ms Aldoseri’s visit, wherever they may live in our country. That’s why we are encouraging young people across Scotland to tweet their questions, views or thoughts using #TellTheUN! During the course of the visit and afterwards, we’ll do our best to ensure as many of your views are conveyed to Amal as possible.
I feel incredibly proud and privileged that SYP has been asked to act as the host to Ms. Aldoseri during her visit – and the opportunity to once again work in partnership with organisations across Scotland who share our commitment to ensuring the rights of children and young people are promoted and protected is one which we relish.

So in closing, I’d really like to urge all young people to take the opportunity to share their views with Ms. Aldoseri during her visit so we can ensure that the genuine voices of young people are heard!

Remember, all you need to do is tweet using #TellTheUN!



Youth Parliament launches biggest ever manifesto consultation

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015






Scottish Youth Parliament Press Office

Today, the Scottish Youth Parliament launched its youth manifesto consultation, which seeks to gather the views of thousands of young people across Scotland to develop a national youth manifesto.

Former Chairs of the organisation, current and former members, and partner organisations gathered at an event in Scotland’s capital to mark SYP’s 16th Birthday, and celebrate the achievements of Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament throughout the years.

The manifesto consultation, entitled Lead the Way, offers Scotland’s young people and opportunity to be the driving force and shape the years ahead. Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament will be consulting with young people all over the country, about a wide range of policy issues, to establish the biggest youth manifesto ever produced in Scotland.

In 2011, the Scottish Youth Parliament published its 2011-2016 youth manifesto, Change the Picture, which saw around 43,000 young people share their views on a range of issues of importance to young people.


Jordan Linden MSYP, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament, said:


“As a youth-led organisation, our consultation work is at the very heart of everything we do and forms an invaluable part of our vision and values.”
“Young people must be at the heart of discussions about their future, leading conversations in their communities, schools, colleges, universities, and workplaces. Young people are not only the future of our country, they are the present. The purpose of today is very simple, we are asking the young people of Scotland to lead the way.”
“Our previous manifestos have given us the mandate to make significant changes in local and national policy, including ensuring 16 and 17 year olds could vote in the referendum and in the Scottish Parliament elections next year. I think it’s fitting that we celebrate these achievements today, but that we also look forward and ask ourselves what more we can do to empower young people to make significant change.”
“Through our manifesto consultation, we will ensure young people’s voices are heard. The views of Scotland’s young people underpin everything we do as an organisation, and our 2016-2021 youth manifesto will allow young people to truly lead the way in championing the issues that young people care about.”


Notes to editor

1. All media enquiries to Gareth Brown, Public Affairs Coordinator, 07753 410676/ 0131 524 0818,

Closing Speech to SYP57 – Louise Cameron MSYP, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament

Saturday, June 13th, 2015




Good afternoon everyone,

What a jam packed day it’s been here today!

I really hope it has given you all a taste of the two years ahead and that you are excited about getting stuck into all of the amazing opportunities that await you to make a real difference for Scotland’s young people.

I would like to use my last speech as Chair to reflect on what SYP and being an MSYP really means, and reflect on my last four years as an MSYP, and two years as Vice Chair and Chair.

It pretty simple really, but in its simplicity lies the reason why our organisation, and your role within it are so special.

It’s about you… it is a little about politics, but it really is mostly about you. And not just you, everyone in this room. Together.

We always say here that you get out of SYP what you put into it, and it couldn’t be more true.

Our organisation, and your role as an MSYP, will be what you make it. The harder you work individually and collectively, the more opportunities arise, and more you learn, develop and succeed.

It is not just about the work though, it is also about the amazing memories you make along the way. The best thing to do is throw yourself in at the deep end and take every opportunity that comes your way.

We have a fantastic team who will support you every step of the way throughout your time as an MSYP and your fellow members are a fantastic support network.

You will make friends here that might become some of your closest friends. I think it is so special to be able to meet so many other people who have the same passion and motivations as you and it really inspires you to go and do even more when you see just what can be achieved, sometimes against all the odds, when you work as a group.

SYP changes you as a person. It allows you the space to grow, be comfortable with who you are and get to know yourself.

SYP provides you an opportunity to shape our country for years to come; to make the lives, prospects and future destinations of our young people the best they can be.

We are the voice for all young people in Scotland. You have all been elected into this role by young people who believe in you. They believe that you are the ones who can help push for what is needed and can meaningfully represent them.

It is important that you take on this duty understanding the faith that has been put in you. With all the wonderful opportunities, experiences and fun that come with the Scottish Youth Parliament, you have a responsibility to do your best by those who have elected you.

There will be challenges and obstacles along the way but the feeling of success when you achieve something which genuinely makes a difference to the lives of other young people is the most rewarding feeling.

Be resilient! When things aren’t easy, do your best! That is all anyone can ask. Our staff team and your support workers are always there to be support you during these times.

I want to take a moment to talk about two very important values we have here at SYP. Respect and Equality. These values underpin everything we do.

We value the input and contributions from all our MSYPs, the other young people with whom we will engage with, our staff team, our support workers. Everyone has unique talents, their own experiences and background. We want to harness that diversity.

As a fundamentally rights based organisation, we have a duty to promote the wellbeing of all our young people, ensuring that our youth parliament truly is a safe space where everyone is valued and encouraged to fulfil their potential.

Respect and equality are our first and founding principles. They prevail over all else, and we must work together to ensure that remains the case.

That doesn’t mean that you are not entitled to have your own views, or disagree with other people, or even challenge the organisation to do more. In fact, it’s the opposite. These things are vital for the health of any democracy and any democratic organisation.

However, the whole point of democracy is that everyone is entitled to respectfully communicate their views, and on an equal basis. Make your contributions constructive and positive.

If respect and equality are not values that your share with the same strength as we do, then I am afraid that this is not the organisation for you.

Looking to the future, the manifesto will be a huge challenge for you all to prove what this membership is made of. I can’t wait to see you smash the previous number of responses.

You are one of the few and lucky memberships that will have the opportunity to shape and launch a youth manifesto. “Lead the way”, which you heard about earlier today, is the defining piece of work for our organisation for the next five years. It will fundamentally shape our successes and work we do over that period.

Our credibility and success as an organisation depend on how well we engage with young people. The number of responses from young people we can get to this manifesto consultation, the more credibility we have to ensure decision makers listen to us.

My challenge to you is to make “Lead the way” your priority until the next Sitting and get as many responses as you possibly can.

I would like to say what an honour it has been to serve as Chair, Vice Chair, Convener and MSYP over the last four years.

This organisation has been, and will continue to be, a huge and special part of my life and although this year has probably been the hardest year of my life, and there were times I thought I was losing my sanity, it really has been the most amazing experience and I have loved it.

I have been fortunate enough to preside as Chair whilst our organisation has achieved some of the most amazing things; making substantial changes to improve the lives of young carers; ensuring votes at 16 was included in the Smith Commission Agreement and will now be a reality for the Scottish Parliament elections; launching our first major piece of research; growing our media and social media profile significantly; getting the most number of votes ever cast in an SYP national election.

It truly has been amazing, and I am so grateful to have been able to be a part of it.

This organisation truly allows young people to have their say and get the opportunity to speak honestly and passionately about what they believe in. I could not think of anything more valuable than giving people a voice and that is what we do.

I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has trusted me to lead as Chair, supported me to get things done and believed in me to represent Scotland’s young people.

Thank you to my wonderful board – Nairn, David, Rachael and Terri. You have all been a joy to work with, and have worked incredibly hard!

To my fantastic staff team, I am so proud to have each and every one of you working for SYP and you are all amazing at the jobs you do. You all work day in day out giving 110% and you really are the best staff team in the world.

I would also like to mention Hamira who, although has now left us, was a huge support and inspiration to me throughout my time as Chair. Hamira was an incredible Chief Executive and really made the organisation what it is now. If it wasn’t for her, SYP wouldn’t be nearly as successful as it is. I can’t wait for everyone to meet Ben, our new Chief Executive, and I am excited for the new direction and inspiration he will bring to the organisation.

The most important thing you can realise and understand during your time in the organisation is why you are doing it all.

You should all write on a piece of paper when you go home tomorrow about why you joined SYP and, whenever things seem tough, go and read it and it will remind you why you try so hard, and why it is worth it.

Most of the people in this room will be here trying to make life better for other people, and what an incredible and inspiring reason that is to be here.

Whenever you feel like something seems impossible, it’s not. Just tell yourself – I can make it happen – and you will.

With enough determination, a membership is a force to be reckoned with, and I believe that you will bring our wonderful organisation onto bigger and better things.

Together, and only together, we will continue to change our communities, regions and our country, giving young people everywhere a voice and keeping Scotland a place where young people’s views are valued and heard.

Thank you.

An open letter in support of the Organ and Tissue Donation (Scotland) Bill to Members of the Scottish Parliament – Louise Cameron MSYP

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

Dear MSP,

Support for the Proposed Organ and Tissue Donation (Scotland) Bill

I am writing to you in your position as a Member of the Scottish Parliament in relation to the Proposed Organ and Tissue Donation (Scotland) Bill, sponsored by Anne McTaggart MSP, to make you aware of the Scottish Youth Parliament’s support for the Bill ahead of the deadline for signatures from MSPs on Thursday 5th February.

In 2010, the following motion as passed at our July National Sitting:

Following similar moves in Wales to tackle a severe shortage of organ donors, the system for organ donation should be changed to an opt-out system rather than an opt-in system.

This motion was voted on again in 2013 and 2014 by Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYPs) who voted in favour by an overwhelming majority. As I am sure you are aware, a fundamental role of an MSYP is to consult with young people in their area and represent their views during these debates at our national sittings.

Therefore, I can say with confidence that moving to a soft opt-out system for organ donation carries significant support from Scotland’s young people.

In addition, our Health and Wellbeing Subject Committee further considered the contents of the Bill to inform our response to the public consultation. The Committee came out in unanimous support of the Bill and its provisions.

There can be no doubt, especially considering the evidence from other European countries, that a soft opt-out system results in increased donor rates which, in turn, saves lives.

As the Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament, I have a responsibility to communicate the views of young people to key decision makers in relation to important policy development, and in this capacity I would urge you to support this Bill by adding your signature before the deadline on Thursday 5th February 2015 at 16:30.
Yours sincerely,


Louise Cameron





Louise Cameron MSYP
Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament

Vice Chair Update January 2015 @3terrismith

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

TerriSmith UNCRC

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a very enjoyable festive period, and are raring to go and get stuck into things in 2015.

Unfortunately for me, all the good telly has stopped, so there’s no more predicting who’s going to win the X Factor. I could go on about Big Brother, but I’ll save you the pain.

This year marks SYP’s 16th year, and many of us only have 5 months left of our term as MSYPs. With this in mind, I ask you all to remember why you first stood for election, and reignite that passion and dedication. With the launch of our new national campaign, this is a perfect platform for MSYPs to leave a lasting legacy. You’ve already done that with Care.Fair.Share., and that deserves a massive well done. We’ve created a long standing tradition of standing up for some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged young people in Scotland, and I believe 2015 will be full of successful achievements.


What has your Vice Chair been up to?

January is always a very quiet period. However, there have been a few going-ons I’ve been involved in. At the start of the year, I wrote an article for the Campaign for Scottish Home Rule website about the importance of keeping young people involved in the devolution of further powers to Scotland. I had the privilege of selecting MSYPs to attend the Belfast exchange in mid-February, and I want to say well done to all those who applied; the standard of applications was exceptional. Last week along with many other MSYPs, I attended SYP’s assessment from the Investors in Young People, and fingers crossed we impressed the assessors. Recently, I also had the privilege of questioning the Prime Minister, David Cameron MP, on lowering the voting age to 16. Keep an eye on this week’s SYP News for more on this. Finally, last but by no means least, I attended the launch of our 2015 national campaign, POVERTY: See It Change It. Once again, I am delighted to support and promote a campaign that stands up for the most vulnerable people in society. Remember to download the campaign toolkit here. You can also watch a short clip from Nairn McDonald MSYP explaining the contents of the POVERTY: See It Change It campaign toolkit here.

Again, another fairly quiet start to the year locally, but I have used this time to finalise my candidacy in the #SYPElex, and most importantly, I’ve been promoting the upcoming elections to schools, colleges, universities, and youth groups within Edinburgh. Finally, I wrote to all the Edinburgh Councillors and my local MSP to update them on the achievements of Care.Fair.Share., and to thank them for their support. Many of those whom I have sent letters to have replied congratulating us all for our efforts, and they can’t wait to hear about what we do with our new campaign.


Terri’s Corner

“It’s important to give it all you have while you have the chance” – Shania Twain


Thanks for the jokes. I hope 2015 is filled with fun and laughter for you all.

Best MSYP joke 

James Goodwin MSYP – I tried to take a photo of the fog the other day but I mist.

Martyna Napiereska MSYP – Why did the mushroom go to the party? Because he was a fungi. But why didn’t they let him in? Because there wasn’t mushroom.

Best Procedures Group joke

Rhiannon Carroll MSYP – My friend thinks he’s smart. He told me the only food that can make you cry is an onion, so I threw a coconut at him.

Best Board joke 

Rachael McCully MSYP – Why does Peter Pan always fly?  Because he neverlands. I love that joke because it never gets old. It’s got a nice hook.


It’s been a great start to the year, with many of you getting stuck right in to the work of SYP. My main shoutouts this month go to:

Nicole Dempster MSYP – Nicole’s dedication and enthusiasm is exceptional and she continually impresses me with the work she does locally, and particularly the work she does as the Convener of Jobs and Economy Committee. Keep up the great work.

Eilidh Dolan MSYP –  Congratulations to Eilidh Dolan MSYP who recently became Chairwoman of Glasgow Youth Council. I wish you and your colleagues a successful year.

Gary Paterson MSYP and Nancy Russell MSYP – Both Gary and Nancy are Scotland’s representatives at the UK Youth Ambassadors, and they continue to do a great job at representing us all nationally and internationally. You can get involved in their latest survey seeking your views here.

Both Nairn McDonald MSYP and I would like to give a shout out to all the Conveners for their all hard work, and also to Martyna Napiereska MSYP and Ehsan Salim MSYP for stepping in to attend the last Conveners Group meeting in their role as Deputy Conveners.

David McLaughlin – It is with sadness we announce the resignation of David McLaughlin as a Trustee. Louise would like to thank him on behalf of the entire Board and Membership for all his time and efforts as a Trustee, and would like to wish him the best for his future.


Mini Staff Interview  

The first staff interview of 2015 is with Steph Brown who’s been SYP’s Communications Officer since November 2013.
1.) What does your job as the Communications Officer at SYP involve?
As the Communications Officer at SYP, I plan and implement communications strategies to promote all of the amazing work that MSYPs do. This involves issuing press releases, facilitating interviews, supporting MSYPs to write articles and blogs, working with designers to produce promotional materials, etc. I’m also responsible for our internal communications, including SYP News, and I manage SYP’s social media accounts.

2.) Why is Musselburgh better than anywhere else in Scotland?
Musselburgh is actually a pretty interesting place. ‘Mussy’, as it is commonly known, is a coastal town with its own fair share of iconic landmarks and quirky traits that make it unique. Here are some facts about my home town:

  • Musselburgh is an Honest Town, and every year it hosts its own festival where an honest lad and lass are crowned. The festivals are organised by the Honest Town Association (HTA).
  • One of Musselburgh’s golf courses is recognised as the oldest in the world. It is claimed that Mary Queen of Scots played here in 1567.
  • Musselburgh has its own songs, including a local anthem about Musselburgh being a burgh before Edinburgh.
  • By 1690 Musselburgh had a larger population than Leith, with a high proportion employed in the area’s woollen mills and coal mines.
  • Musselburgh Racecourse has some of the best racing events in the UK.
  • Musselburgh offers a range of dining options. My personal favourite is The Caprice, which is an amazing Italian restaurant. Top tip: if it’s your Birthday, you dine for free!
  • Although Musselburgh has everything you could ever need, Edinburgh is only a 7 minute train journey away.

3.) If you could have one super power what would it be and why?
This is a really tough question, but I reckon I’d choose the power of teleportation. I could go wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted.

4.) If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
If I could go to any place, I would love to go back to Alice Springs and visit the Camel Cup again. It’s a hilarious racing event with camels instead of horses. Unlike in horse racing, the camels just do whatever they want, and so they end up running the wrong way down the track, stopping mid-race, and just generally being chaotic. There are also water fights, helicopter trips, face-painting, and loads of food stalls. It’s amazing.

I would also love to go to a World Cup final. So, Ideally a World Cup held in Alice Springs, sponsored by the Camel Cup.


Final thoughts 

I asked MSYPs what their wishes and resolutions were for 2015, and I would like to share the following with you:

David Stewart MSYP wishes our new campaign raises awareness of the issues faced by those in poverty.

Robbie Nicoll MSYP wants to take every opportunity possible and enjoy every moment.

Nairn McDonald MSYP  wishes to see the youth electorate continually engaged, and he wants to leave his position in a place stronger than he found it.

Thomas Mair MSYP wishes to continue to work for SYP and make definitive change for Scotland’s young people.

Nicole Dempster MSYP’s resolution is to be more spontaneous; so far she’s eaten an avocado! Nicole also wishes for lots of people to get involved in #SYPElex.

Ciaran Davidson MSYP wishes for one last big energetic debate, and to go out with a bang.

Whatever your wishes and resolutions are, I wish you a very happy and prosperous year!


Reminders – Don’t forget to order your SYP leavers hoodie. You can order them here. If you have any problems, get in contact with Melissa Gorman MSYP.


You can get involved in the next Vice Chair update here.

I look forward to updating you all again in February, but until then if you have any questions, queries, or of course banter, get in touch!
Terri Smith MSYP
Vice Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament

Youth Parliament Chair urges Prime Minister to devolve voting age powers to Scotland – @weezeontoast

Thursday, November 27th, 2014

Thursday 27th November 2014


©DN Anderson

The Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament, Louise Cameron MSYP, has today urged the Prime Minister to accept that powers over electoral franchise should be devolved to the Scottish Parliament.


The Scottish Youth Parliament has been leading the campaign in Scotland to lower the voting age for over fifteen years.


Speaking after the Smith Commission published its Heads of Agreement, which included the recommendation to devolve electoral franchise powers to Scotland, Cameron said:


“We are delighted that the Smith Commission has recommended powers over the voting age to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament. Given the experience of the referendum, there is now widespread consensus among the public, the media and politicians that the voting age should be lowered to 16.”
“At the Scottish Youth Parliament, we have always known that young people are engaged, active and informed citizens, keen to play their part in creating a better Scotland.” 


“The referendum forced politicians, and other organisations to engage with young people more meaningfully, and at a scale never seen before. The Scottish experience of a lowered voting age has refuted many of the arguments made against it, and indeed a social attitudes research carried out by the University of Edinburgh also disproves many of these arguments.”


“With many powers over electoral administration already devolved to the Scottish Parliament, we believe devolving powers to lower the voting age is a logical and sensible next step which will make votes at 16 a reality in Scottish elections and continue the high levels of engagement with young people we experienced during the referendum.”



Notes to editor

  1. All media enquiries to Stephanie Brown, Communications Officer, 07753 410676/ 0131 524 0818,

Celebrating 25 years of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child – @3terrismith

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

Celebrating 25 years of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

Thursday 20th November marks 25 years since the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) at the General Assembly in New York. To celebrate 25 years of the UNCRC, a small group of Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYPs) have been thinking about the importance of this milestone anniversary, and asking representatives from other third sector organisations and members of the Scottish Government what it means to them. Terri Smith MSYP, Joshua McCormick MSYP, and Rhiordan Langan-Fortune MSYP have spent some of today facilitating a Twitter interview with Tam Baillie, Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People, and chatting to Alison Todd, CEO of Children 1st, and Aileen Campbell MSP, Minister for Children and Young People.

Terri Smith MSYP, Vice Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament, has also shared her own answers to some of the questions from the day.

TerriSmith UNCRCCan you summarise what the Scottish Youth Parliament do?

The Scottish Youth Parliament is the democratically elected voice of Scotland’s young people. We champion the views of young people aged 14-25 across length and breadth of Scotland. We campaign on a wide range of issues which are important to young people, ensuring their voices are heard at all democratic levels.

What does the 25 year anniversary of the UNCRC mean to your work?

25 years of the UNCRC is a hugely significant milestone. The rights defined by the UNCRC have given generations of young people a sense of security, and young people today now value, appreciate, and understand their rights and how they affect them. This anniversary is important to the work SYP undertakes as it showcases how much society respects our young people’s contribution to the world. As the voice of Scotland’s young people, this is something we’ve been championing for over a decade.

If you had to sum up your message to other young people on this day in 140 characters, what would it be?

Make sure you know your rights. Ensure others honour and respect your rights, and always fight for more. The UNCRC is hugely important.

What do you believe are the biggest achievements for children’s rights in Scotland in the past 25 years?

I personally think the biggest achievement for children’s rights in Scotland over the last 25 years is that as a nation, we aspire for Scotland to be the best place it can be for children to grow up. I believe there is a really inspirational sentiment behind the increasing enthusiasm and attitude towards advocating rights, and striving to achieve an ever improving society for children and young people to live in.

Which rights are a priority in your work at the moment?

UNCRC Article 12: “You have the right to an opinion and for it to be listened to and taken seriously.”

As a young person representing other young people, for me, this is one of the most important rights we have. The days where children should be seen and not heard are diminishing from our society, and every day in my role as an MSYP, I work with young people to encourage them to take part in democracy, and I assure them that decision makers both will and want to listen to their views. Over recent months, as a nation, we allowed 16 and 17-year-olds to vote for the very first time. I believe this shows how progressive and encouraging Scotland is, especially for our young people who are our country’s future, and it has also created a platform to encourage future generations to fight for the right to have their say.

Keynote speech to the East Ayrshire Annual Youth Conference – @weezeontoast

Friday, November 7th, 2014

Good morning everyone,

©DN Anderson
It is my absolute pleasure to have the opportunity to welcome you all to the 18th East Ayrshire Council Annual Youth Conference. I would like to thank East Ayrshire Council for inviting me along to speak to you this morning.

My name is Louise Cameron, and I am the Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament. For those of you who maybe don’t know a lot about SYP, we are the democratically elected voice of Scotland’s young people. Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament are directly elected by other young people every two years in constituencies, or through national voluntary organisations.

We meet as a full youth parliament three times a year at our National Sittings, where we debate issues of importance to young people, select campaign priorities, and most importantly, represent the views of young people in our local areas. I’ll talk a little more about SYP a bit later.

This event is a wonderful celebration and advertisement of the value that youth work brings to the lives of our young people, and indeed what fantastic youth work opportunities are available here in East Ayrshire. I understand that we will hear more about these opportunities over the course of this morning.

When I was preparing my remarks for this event, what struck me most was the slogan for today; “Youth Work Changes Lives.”

So I would like to tell you a little bit about how youth work changed my life through my journey with the Scottish Youth Parliament.

I was first elected to the Scottish Youth Parliament back in 2011 in a by-election and was re-elected during the national elections in March 2011 and March 2013.

Like many other young people, I wasn’t really sure what I thought about politics as a whole. I guess I always identified it as being something for people in suits who sit in parliaments, and for journalists for national newspapers trying to catch them out about their expenses.

I always knew that I had a passion for issues affecting my local area, and was always convinced that more needed to be done to involve young people in decisions that affect their lives but, like many other young people, I struggled to see the link between this and what is commonly known as “politics”.

I had a very positive experience in my first year at SYP. Having been elected as the Convener of the Equalities Subject Committee, we did a lot of work with young people to find out about what they thought about PSHE in their schools. At this point, I felt like I wanted an opportunity to take a more front facing leadership role in the organisation and, as a young woman, I felt it was important that women were well represented at a leadership level.

In June 2013, I successfully stood for Vice Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament. This was an amazing opportunity to lead the organisation along with a Board made up of other passionate and enthusiastic young people. During this year, I had many fantastic opportunities to represent young people, meeting with decision makers at the highest level. For example, I had the opportunity to give evidence to Committees in the Scottish Parliament, participate in interviews with national newspapers and TV broadcasters and make speeches at massive conferences across Scotland.

Throughout my term, I learned so much through the opportunities I was able to get involved in , which had a very positive effect on my confidence. The Scottish Youth Parliament had not previously had a democratically elected female Chair, the young person elected by the SYP membership to lead the organisation. I felt that it was time for this to change.

In July 2014, I was successfully elected as Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament at our Annual General Meeting which took place in Lerwick, Shetland.

Since July, I have had the privilege to lead an organisation of passionate, enthusiastic and dynamic young people who are keen to represent the young people in their area to the best of their ability and affect change in their vision.

As Chair, I now sit on the Boards of massive organisations such as YouthLink Scotland and Young Scot, organisations which have a huge impact on the lives of young people in Scotland. I have had the opportunity to host high profile events in other parts of the UK and Europe, including most recently hosting the youth cabinet event with the Scottish Government and 150 young people at the SECC in Glasgow.

Personally, I continue to grow and learn with so many wonderful opportunities to meet with key decision makers and politicians to try and affect change for the benefit of young people.
Many people say that young people are not interested in politics and they are not interested in making a positive contribution. In my experience with the Scottish Youth Parliament, this could not be further from the truth. We engage with thousands and thousands of young people every year up and down Scotland. We exist to provide young people a voice to discuss the issues important to them, and affect the change we wish to see.

As an organisation, we have real influence, and we affect real change!

In recent years, we have seen major campaign successes including our “Love Equally” campaign, which started the process for equal marriage in Scotland, our “One Fair Wage” campaign convinced the Scottish Government to set up a living wage accreditation scheme here in Scotland.

This year we have convinced the Scottish Government to make real changes to the guidance on EMA to protect young carers from losing their payments.

The Scottish Youth Parliament changes lives…. I can absolutely say that it has changed my life for the better. I have been given experience and memories that I will carry with me through the rest of my career and I have become a more confident, successful individual because of that.
At SYP, we have our own slogan… “a little about politics, a lot about you”.. For me, that really encapsulates the effect that SYP has had on my life.


You too can influence change!


You can stand up for the young people in your area through the opportunities available to you here in East Ayrshire, and nationally through the Scottish Youth Parliament by deciding to stand to be a Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament. I would also really urge you to engage with us online, follow us on Twitter and Instagram using @OfficialSYP, like us on Facebook!


As National Youth Work Week draws to a close, my message to you today is to use this opportunity, use the platforms here in East Ayrshire and the national platform of the Scottish Youth Parliament to create the type of Scotland that you, and the other young people of East Ayrshire, want to see.
This Annual Conference provides a fantastic platform for you to build on your engagement with young people in East Ayrshire.


But we can always do more!


That is my challenge to you! How do we work together to ensure Scotland is a nation that listens to its young people?


We do it together…


Thank you.


Friday, October 24th, 2014

Terri Smith MSYPHi everyone,I’m back again with my 3rd Vice Chair update. There is a lot to update you on as so much has happened over the last 5-6 weeks. The referendum has been and gone, the Scottish Youth Parliament’s 55th National Sitting has happened, and the X Factor live shows have started. It’s coming up to the October break, so I hope everyone enjoys their week off, but if you’re like me, who doesn’t get that break, don’t worry, it’s only 10 weeks until Christmas.

It’s been two weeks since we all met in Perth for SYP55, and I think you will agree it was a fantastic weekend and so much happened. The highlights for me were talking to John Swinney MSP about Liam Neeson, and announcing tackling child and youth poverty as the 2015 SYP National Campaign. Continuing the Twitter buzz, I’ve spoken to some MSYPs to see what they had to say about the weekend:

  • Louise Dunnin MSYP said the best thing about the weekend was completing the ‘What it means to be an MSYP’ jigsaw and seeing it all completed.
  • John Thain MSYP said his best bit was not crying during the child and youth poverty campaign debate.
  • Rhiordan Langan-Fortune said the new Members’ Motions structure was so much better.

I have been really busy nationally over the last month or so, especially during the referendum week when I took part in three live TV appearances, which was a great experience. During that week, I also attended the national referendum count in Ingliston with the Edinburgh MSYPs, and I was extremely proud to be representing SYP and the young people of Scotland on such a historic occasion. Into the beginning of October, I attended the Cross Party Group on Children and Young People where the group spoke about providing more support for kinship carers, and finally, last weekend, I went to the BYC North East Convention in Newcastle with 8 MYPs.

I’ve got some exciting news for all from the 2nd Board meeting which took place on Friday 3rd October 2014. All seven of us were assigned a regional portfolio. I am pleased to announce they are as follows:

  • Louise Cameron MSYP – Mid Scotland and Fife and Highlands and Islands
  • Terri Smith MSYP – Lothian
  • Rachael McCully MSYP – Central Scotland
  • Sian Hughes MSYP – South of Scotland
  • David McLaughlin MSYP – Glasgow
  • Nairn McDonald MSYP – West of Scotland
  • David Stewart MSYP – North East Scotland

Now for a wee message from our very own Chair, Louise Cameron, in regards to what the regional portfolios mean: “We felt it was important to improve the communication and to distribute opportunities and we felt  the introduction of regional portfolios would improve this. Also, we can get to know the skills of MSYPs and ensure they can have an easy way of contacting the board.”If you are unsure of where your constituency/local authority fits into this, just send me an email at and I will send you in the right direction.


I carried out all my consultation work for the SYP55 Members’ Motions and campaign selection, and I was really pleased over 100 young people took part in this. I have been busy meeting with young people in schools and promoting the SYP elections, as well as making contact with my local MSP Malcolm Chisholm, who I will be meeting with this week. Finally, in my local area, I did some last minute work on the “Make Your Mark” consultation, and I was delighted to hear Edinburgh achieved a 7% increase from last year.


Terri’s corner

“The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra” – Jimmy Johnson


I must say MSYPs, this month, I was inundated with jokes and there was so many good ones so I’ve decided to start a wee competition. The best jokes from the following groups are:

Best MSYP Jokes

  • Rachael McCully MSYP – A man walks into a kilt shop. “I’d like to buy a kilt please, do you have Dunlop tartan?” “I’m sorry.” Replied the kilt maker, “You’ll have to get McIntyre instead.” “Why’s that?” “Because everyone knows that Dunlops have been McIntyres for years.”
  • Colleen Brown MSYP – Why did the bike have to lie down? Because it was two tired.

Best Conveners Joke

  • Joshua McCormich MSYP – Knock Knock. Who’s there? Obama! Obama who? OOO BAA MAA SSEELLFF.

Best Procedures Group Joke

  • Kirsty McCahill MSYP – I met a girl at the vegetarian club. She said she knew me, but I’d never met herbivore.

Board Members Joke

  • Sian Hughes MSYP – what did the vegetables say at the garden party? Lettuce turnip the beet.


I’ve loved hearing about all your work. As always, it’s great to see you all still engaged as we come to the end of our terms. I just wanted to firstly start off by saying a massive well done to all the MSYPs who presented Members Motions’ and proposed the campaign topics at the Sitting, you all did a fabulous job and should be proud of yourselves.

My main shoutouts this month go to:

  • Struan King MSYP – who has been working incredibly hard in his local area, especially with Aberdeen Youth Council with regards to his city hosting the Ambassador of the United States of America to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Matthew W. Barzun, on Friday 17th October 2014.
  • Megan Lukins MSYP – who also worked extremely hard to support the Aberdeen youth engagement event.
  • Martyna Napiereska MSYP – who was successfully elected as UKYP PG for Scotland.
  • Junaid Ashraf MSYP – congratulations of being selected as Scotland’s debate lead for the UKYP House of Commons debate next month.

Mini Staff Interview

After some consultation with you all, and by popular demand, I would like to introduce the first mini staff interview for the Vice Chair Update.

The first staff member is Calum Ware who is one of our Youth Engagement Workers and has been working at SYP since July 2013.

Q1. If you were a sandwich what would you be and why?
This question does not surprise me. Thanks for putting me on the spot MSYPs! If I were a sandwich, I’d be a ‘Philly Cheese Steak’sandwich. I have no personal traits that match this sandwich (although I could say my jokes are sometimes cheesy). My choice is maCaluminly down to my travels in America, where the sandwich was essentially my lunch for a few days when visiting Philadelphia. Ifanyone gets the chance to go to Philadelphia, make sure the ‘Philly Cheese Steak’ is first on your list!

Q2. What does your role at SYP entail?
As part of the Youth Engagement Team, I deliver a range of engagement and training sessions based on all of the work the organisation undertakes. This involves travelling around Scotland to spread the word about SYP and increasing awareness of why politics is relevant to young people. To add a little bit of Youth Engagement promotion here – as always, we are here to support you with any events or sessions you may have, so please do get in touch.

Q3. What is the best thing about working at SYP?
One of the standouts has to be the Sittings where I get to catch up with all the MSYPs.

Q4. If you were to describe MSYPs in three key words, what would they be?
Charismatic, radical, and enthusiastic.

I would just like to thank Calum for taking part in the first interview. Keep an eye out for next month’s edition, where I will interview another staff member – so remember to get your questions in.

I have really enjoyed writing the Vice Chair Update this month and I hope you all enjoy reading it. As always, keep up the hard work and don’t forget to send any questions, queries or banter my way.

Terri Smith MSYP
Vice Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament

Youth Charities Call On The Smith Commission To Consider Votes At 16

Monday, October 13th, 2014

Scotland will be viewed as a world leader by fully engaging and empowering its 16 and 17 year olds as fully franchised citizens active in the political life of the country.

The past few months have clearly marked a new era of democratic engagement. The Independence Referendum engaged young people in the political landscape in an unprecedented way. Over 100,000 16 and 17 years olds registered to vote.

Evidence shows they were amongst the most informed, engaged and questioning voters, carrying out their own own research and using multiple sources in order to come to their own personal decision. Many young individuals dedicated countless hours to campaign for both sides. On September 18th 2014, queues of young people entered polling stations for the first time in order to have their say on Scotland’s future, valuing that responsibility and casting their vote.

We, as an alliance of Scottish Youth Charities, representing 1.1 million young people, are united in our belief that we cannot let young people down and must continue to fully engage them in the democratic process. We as a country need to capture this emergent enthusiasm for the democratic process. We need to stimulate their ongoing involvement and we need to value their contribution.

We are therefore calling on Lord Smith to recommend a mechanism for the franchise for all future elections in Scotland to be extended to 16 and 17 year olds.

The Smith Commission should build in enfranchisement of our young people as a key principle and a core value in a fully engaged and effective devolved administration.

This ground-breaking enfranchisement of young people will ensure their voices are heard now and for generations to come.

We, as national third sector organisations working with young people in communities across Scotland, stand ready to support them.

Louise Macdonald, Chief Executive, Young Scot, said: “Young people have put to bed the myth that they are not interested in being involved in the democratic process. The huge level of engagement in the Independence Referendum vindicates all those who have campaigned for the extension of the franchise to 16 and 17 year olds. The truth about Scotland’s young people is that they are switched on, engaged and passionate about the difference they can make to their local communities and to tackling local and national issues.

We know that young people are doing amazing things to make their local communities a better place to grow up every single day. We look forward to continuing to work with them to support them to become active local, national and global citizens, whose contributions are valued and acted upon, and where young people – as shown throughout the debate – are leading the future of Scotland right now.”

Louise Cameron, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament, said: “The referendum has proved young people take the right to vote seriously. Over 80 per cent of young people registered to vote, and we have earned an extension of the voting age to all elections.

“I urge Lord Smith, the Prime Minister and the UK Government to look to our experience in Scotland when considering a new devolution settlement for Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom. The ability to lower the voting age to 16 for all Scottish elections should be part of this settlement.”