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

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.

Vice Chair Update October/ November 2014 @3terrismith

November 14th, 2014

The Vice Chair Update from Terri Smith MSYP

Terri Smith MSYP

Hi everyone,

It’s that time of the month again, and I’m back with more jokes and a fantastic update on the work of MSYPs. Halloween and Guy Fawkes Night have both passed, which can only mean one thing – I’ve started my Christmas countdown. There’s only 6 weeks to go!

I also just wanted to take this opportunity to encourage you all to make the most of what’s left of 2014, and in particular, urge you all to get involved in the final months of the Care.Fair.Share. campaign. This campaign has been fantastic, and the results we have achieved as a collective group are outstanding. With this in mind, I ask you to remember why Care.Fair.Share. is important, and go out there and make a difference. It’s time for the 2013-15 Scottish Youth Parliament Membership to make their mark!

Lauren King MSYP has been a fantastic campaign lead, and has shared a short message on why she is urging you all to get involved in the final months of the campaign: “Care.Fair.Share. is starting to reach the final hurdles, and in order to make our campaign successful, we need to keep up the momentum. I’m incredibly proud of all the hard work that every single MSYP has put into the campaign, and that is the sole reason it has been successful so far. The final few months are the most important, and I want to ensure we all make the most of the time we have left.”

Nationally, the last four weeks have been relatively quieter than usual for me. On Friday 17th October 2014, I travelled to Aberdeen to take part in the event organised by Aberdeen Youth Council who were hosting the Ambassador of the United States of America to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Matthew W. Barzun. I also chaired the second Conveners Group Meeting, during which the Conveners got stuck into the planning of the new campaign.  Towards the end of October, I attended Young Scot’s “Modern Apprenticeships Awards Evening” with Louise Cameron MSYP. It was great to hear the achievements of so many young people who have all ended up in positive destinations after the completion of their Modern Apprenticeship. Finally, in October, I went along to the Cross Party Group on Children and Young People to speak to the group about voter engagement, and how as a nation, we need to maintain our efforts and focus on engaging young people.

I facilitated a Question and Answer session with local decision makers at one of the youth groups in my constituency. This was a fantastic opportunity to be involved in more local work, and see young people setting the agenda of what they want their City Councillors to do. I’ve also been attending a wide range of meetings with the many schools and colleges in my local area to ensure they are aware of the changes to the EMA guidelines for young carers, and also to find out what additional funding they have in place for young carers, particularly in colleges.

Finally, at the beginning of November, the Edinburgh Youth Participation Mentors delivered their third event of 2014, engaging with many young people to find out what the next local campaign will be. The campaign topics included Votes at 16 and gender inequality – so keep an eye out for that too.

Terri’s corner

“Correction does much, but encouragement does more.”  – Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe 

Great jokes as always. I received so many Christmas ones – so I’ve saved these for next month’s edition. My favourite ones for this month were as follows:

Best MSYP Jokes
Mason Rowan MSYP – Why are there no painkillers in the rainforest? Because the parrots-etamol.
Scott Simpson MSYP – What do you call a guitarist who trains chickens? Jimi Hen-Tricks.

Best Procedures Group Joke
Rhianne Carroll MSYP – Simba was walking too slow, so I told him to Mufasa.

Best Conveners Group Joke
Nairn McDonald MSYP – What do you get when you cross a dinosaur with fireworks? Dinomite.

Best Board Jokes
Sian Hughes MSYP – What do you get if you cross Terri with a dinosaur? A Terri-dactyl (of course this is my personal favourite haha).


You’ve all been crazily busy over the last month, and I couldn’t be more proud of the work you’re all doing. Please remember, if you want others to know about what you’re doing locally or nationally, and no matter how big or small you think it is, please get in touch.
My main shoutouts this month go to:

Gary Paterson MSYP – Gary is one of two UK Young Ambassadors for Scotland. A few weeks ago he went to Rome to attend the European Youth Conference with over one hundred young people from across Europe to decide on the proposals to tackle access barriers to youth rights and political participation. You can keep up to date with Gary’s work on his blog, which will soon be live.

Fife MSYPs – On Tuesday 4th November 2014, MSYPs took part in Fife’s Annual Youth Forum event, which generated a room full of young people and went spectacularly well, so well done.

Thomas Mair MSYP and Kayleigh Finnigan MSYP – Their hard work and involvement in their local Coatbridge Youth Conference was much appreciated.

Catherine Anne Hannah MSYP and Kaylee Mouat MSYP – Both Shetland MSYPs have been working incredibly hard on the Care.Fair.Share. campaign over the last month and have had a fantastic presence on Twitter.

South Lanarkshire MSYPs – They were very busy recently as they launched their 5th Youth Strategy for their local authority, and I’ve heard it was a massive success from so many people. Congratulations to all involved.

So much local and national work has been taking place over the last month, and it’s great to see the momentum is continuing. I can’t wait to hear about what you all get up to for the remainder of this year.

Mini Staff Interview

Now it is time for the second mini staff interview, and this month you all chose to interview Rebecca Marek. Rebecca is the Scottish Youth Parliament’s Parliamentary and Campaigns Officer, and has been working with us since November 2013.


Who inspires you in the world and why?
Strong women inspire me! From Hermione Granger (my favorite Harry Potter character) to Leslie Knope (my fictional hero), from Sally Ride (the first American woman in space) to Marie Curie (the first woman to win a Nobel Prize in both physics and chemistry), from Susan B. Anthony to Emmeline Pankhurst (suffragettes and activists), from Amelia Earhart (the first American woman to fly across the Atlantic) to Cecilie Skog (who has climbed the highest peak on each continent), from Benazir Bhutto (Pakistan’s first Female Prime Minister) to Aung San Suu Kyi (Myanmar’s advocate for democracy), from Dorothy Day (a Catholic social activist who served the poor) to Simone de Beauvior (a feminist author), I have always been inspired by strong women.

What does your job at SYP entail?
I think my job entails something different every day! My title is “Parliamentary and Campaigns Officer,” so most of my work is concentrated in these two areas. I arrange for MSYPs to meet with MSPs, coordinate our attendance at Cross Party Groups, monitor the goings-on in Parliament, organise stalls at party conferences, write letters to MSPs about the achievements of MSYPs, and think about ways SYP could influence policy. In terms of the campaign, I work with the Campaign Lead and the Conveners Group to develop the campaign strategy, write the campaign toolkit, and support MSYPs in running their regional campaigns. I’m also the unofficial office proof-reader in my spare time.

Congratulations are in order. We are all delighted to hear your wedding went well. If you could sum up your wedding experience in 3 words what would they be?
They would be: friendship, joy, and gratitude. It was amazing having so many family and friends together to celebrate, and I’m so thankful for everyone’s well wishes. In particular, the wedding party was incredible, taking goofy pictures in the rain and helping with a last minute dash to find the lost rings!

Finally, what have been your highlights so far working with SYP?
There have been a fair few, but it has certainly been amazing to see Care.Fair.Share. progress from the launch in January to key meetings with the Scottish Government this month. I’m so proud of all the work MSYPs have done to improve the lives of young carers. It is also great to see MSYPs in action at Sittings, creating and debating policy.

A massive thank you to Rebecca for taking part in the interview, and we wish you all the very best in married life. Remember to nominate the last staff member to be interviewed in 2014. There is a survey link where you can do this here. The online vote will close on Monday 1st December 2014. Also, don’t forget the Scottish MYPs will be taking part in the UKYP debate on Friday 14th November 2014, and you can watch it here.

As always, it’s been a pleasure to write my update for you all, and I hope you enjoy reading it. Next month’s update will be Christmas themed (which I am so excited about), so get all your jokes in, and I look forward to speaking with you all soon.

Terri Smith MSYP
Vice Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament

Young people across Scotland develop creative solutions to violence as part of Scottish Youth Parliament Competition

November 12th, 2014

We-CTV National Production Day

David and Martyna 2

On Tuesday 11th November 2014, young people from across Scotland came together to focus on ways to reduce interpersonal violence through creativity as part of a national competition, run by the Scottish Youth Parliament.

The We-CTV competition, facilitated by the No Knives, Better Lives initiative, encourages young people aged 11-18 to think about the problems interpersonal violence causes in local communities, and provides them with an opportunity to create artwork, literature or multimedia content to educate their peers on issues such as knife crime, abuse or online bullying.

Experts in video production, writing and art as well as knife crime and violence reduction were in attendance at Hampden Stadium to offer advice and support to the shortlisted We-CTV competition entrants.

Speaking about the National Production Day, David Stewart, Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament and We-CTV Champion, said: “I am delighted to have witnessed such fantastic energy and enthusiasm today from young people across the country who have entered the Scottish Youth Parliament’s We-CTV competition.

“We-CTV provides an opportunity for young people to use their creative skills to promote anti-violence messages, and our National Production Day has helped to equip them with the experience and expertise to get the most out of the competition.”

“Through our consultation work, we know that young people are concerned about knife crime and interpersonal violence, and they value the importance of researching and promoting solutions. The young people across Scotland participating in the We-CTV competition want to make a difference in their local community, and shape discussions that can pave the way to a safer and fairer society.”

The groups who made it to the national stage of the We-CTV competition enjoyed the opportunity to meet with creative experts and those working to eradicate violence from Scotland’s streets.

Sulayman Tabassam, 14 and from Castlehead High School in Paisley, who won the competition in 2013 said: “The We-CTV competition production day is a really enjoyable experience for all of the young people who attend.

“The great thing about We-CTV is that young people take part in every aspect of creating their ideas and turning them into a professional video for our peers. From developing storyboards, filming and then editing the finished video it means that we have had a chance to increase our knowledge and creative skills.

“Throughout the day we also heard from a number of speakers including the police, medics, lawyers and even someone who had gone to prison because of knife crime. Listening to their stories and what they have faced due to interpersonal violence, we learned a lot about the dangers of carrying a knife and it really opened our eyes to the consequences it can have on our own future, as well as on family, friends and local community.”

Gerry Farrell, a freelance creative who attended the event to pass on his knowledge on video production said: “The Scottish Youth Parliament and No Knives, Better Lives deserve all the praise and encouragement they can get for building the We-CTV project from scratch and sustaining it for so many years.

“Our young people are the ones who have most to lose from being sucked into violence or gangs early in their lives. We-CTV works hard with just about every secondary school in Scotland to teach useful life lessons to these youngsters at the same time as equipping them with communication skillsets that will help them flourish in years to come.”

The groups participating in the competition will submit their final creative solutions by Friday 16th January 2015. The shortlisted submissions will then go to an online vote from Monday 26th January 2015 – Sunday 8th February 2015, where the public will be able to decide the winner of the We-CTV competition 2014/15.

Find out more at www.syp.org.uk

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

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.


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 terri.smith.msyp@sypmail.org.uk 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 Parliament Chair encourages young people to stand in the SYP Elections

October 14th, 2014


Louise Cameron MSYP, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament

Louise Cameron MSYP, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament

Louise Cameron, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament, encourages young people to stand in the SYP Elections 

The Scottish Youth Parliament elections will be taking place in March 2015. The call is now open for young people all over the country to register their interest and stand as candidates to represent young people in their area.

The Scottish Youth Parliament is the democratically elected voice of Scotland’s young people and campaigns on a wide range of issues, and represents young people all over Scotland. It gives young people a national platform to voice their issues, turn them into positive actions, and influence Scotland’s decision makers.

To register interest to represent a local constituency, young people aged 14-25 should complete a Candidate Expression of Interest Form by Friday 31st October. Further information is available at www.syp.org.uk/elections.

Louise Cameron, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament, said:

“During what is such an exciting time to be involved in the heart of Scottish politics, I am delighted to announce that the call for candidates is now open for the SYP Elections 2015.

“The Scottish Youth Parliament is an entirely youth-led organisation, and Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament represent the views of young people across Scotland and strive to make a real difference by campaigning on the issues that matter the most to young people.

“Being a Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament is a truly life changing experience. I would like to encourage young people from all over the country to consider standing as a candidate and to grasp this opportunity to ensure young people are continually at the forefront of shaping our society.”

Current Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYPs) have produced a promotional video to encourage others to get involved in this opportunity to stand as a candidate and potentially become an MSYP.

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

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.”

Closing Remarks to #SYP55 from Louise Cameron MSYP, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament

October 5th, 2014

SYP55 National Sitting

Louise Cameron MSYP, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament

Louise Cameron MSYP, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament

Firstly, I would like to say a huge Thank you to Perth and Kinross Council for hosting SYP’s 55th Sitting, including the fantastic evening entertainment last night.

Thank you to Provost and all of the youth services staff for making this such a wonderful weekend for us all. Let’s show our appreciation.

I’d also like to thank all of our guests including our keynote speaker, John Swinney MSP, and all of the staff of the North Inch Community Campus.

The next sitting will be in at the end of March. We will keep you posted on details as we finalise them. Don’t forget that the March 2015 Sitting also includes the SYP Awards, and nominations will be opening in December so start thinking about who you would like to nominate to receive an award at the last Sitting of the current membership!

Remember, there is still time to register as a candidate if you wish to stand for re-election in March next year. You can check out the SYP website for more details.

We have had a fantastic sitting and we have raised the bar for what we can achieve when we as a membership work together. With lots of little changes to the structure of our organisation such as the Members Motions structure and the introduction of opposition speakers we are showing that we are capable of adapting, meeting the needs and views of our Membership.

I am pleased to say that I have delivered on everything I intended to do in my campaign as Chair thus far. Working with our staff team and your dedicated Board, we are currently considering creating regional portfolios for board members, our youth engagement team has created a thorough membership training programme, and we as a board have also been exploring new ways to make our organisation as accessible as possible.

I am proud that SYP has been leading the way on engaging young people. With our huge successes in terms of our grassroots young voter engagement work, and our success in our National Campaign, we have once again shown that SYP is delivering in making a significant impact in Scottish society. Our ability to represent the views of young people and to create effective change through their vision is constantly improving and becoming stronger all the time.

Our increased presence on media is proving how positively we are viewed by Scotland and beyond. Our improving relationship in parliament demonstrates how strongly we stand with decision makers and the credibility and influence we hold with them. Our success is only going to increase in the future.

We achieved, and continue to achieve this together.

This is why I want to reiteratie the importance of us working together. We, together, have had an immense impact through our work on the referendum. We have been passionate and vocal both online and on the ground about empowering young people to be interested and excited about politics. We have seen the power of what we can achieve when we all channel our energy positively and work as a collective team.

I understand that many of you may have disagreed with decisions made and things which have happened over the past few months, but I can assure you that the organisations best interest is always the most important factor and that if any one of you wants to be more involved in SYP, in media opportunities, in campaign work, in parliamentary activity, in projects and youth engagement, please get in touch and let us know! We are more than delighted to support members into making the most of their role and helping them to make a positive impact. We would love to hear from you.

As a newly elected Board we have been settling into our roles and have had to make many decisions at short notice, but we have all been trying our very best knowing it isn’t always possible to please everyone. We are very committed to the organisation and ensuring that all decisions are made in its best interest. We hope that any questions or concerns you have were answered today in the Board and Convener Q and A, but if they weren’t we will ensure to get in touch with a response.

I want you all to share my vision of what can be achieved when we harness our collective energy and channel it positively as an organisation. In just a few short months after our AGM we have achieved so much. Imagine what we can achieve if we continue these efforts over the next three months, and then the next three after that.

Our image as an organisation, our social media, our consultation work, our survey activity, our campaigns are only as good as our MSYPs make them. Get involved! Get our message out there. Fill in our surveys, tweet, retweet, share, engage with our projects and make an impact in our campaigns. Without each and every one of you, there is no SYP. We need everyone to understand the value of their work and how important each and every one of you are as members.

We as an organisation must look forward. We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to grasp all of this engagement, all of this excitement which has been created from the referendum, and to channel it into building a better society for young people in our country, not to mention the chance to change the face of politics and make it something everyone can be involved in and have a say in.

There is a very obvious space and opportunity for the Scottish Youth Parliament to seize this and fundamentally shape this going forward, this is our future. But we can only achieve this together.

Thank you all for the passion and enthusiasm you have shown this weekend. I look forward to seeing you all again in March.


Youth Parliament to campaign to tackle child and youth poverty

October 5th, 2014

The Scottish Youth Parliament’s (SYP) new national campaign will aim to tackle child and youth poverty.

Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament voted on a shortlist of campaigns on Saturday afternoon at their National Sitting held in North Inch Community Campus, Perth. The winning campaign was announced by Vice Chair, Terri Smith MSYP on Sunday 5th October 2014.

Speaking immediately after the announcement, the Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament, Louise Cameron MSYP, said:

“I am delighted that Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament have chosen to campaign to tackle child and youth poverty.”

“Research has shown that growing up in poverty affects the opportunities children and young people have available to them. We firmly believe that this must change and that more needs to be done to support these young people.”

“The Scottish Youth Parliament has made a huge impact with our previous campaigns, Love Equally and Care.Fair.Share. I have no doubt that we can be equally successful with this campaign and make a real difference to benefit the young people of Scotland.”





Campaign Update from Lauren King MSYP at #SYP55

October 4th, 2014

SYP55 National Sitting

Lauren and Ryan

As the Lead Campaigner for Care.Fair.Share., I just want to take a moment to say how proud I am of all the great work that has been done so far for the campaign. As Nairn said, there is much to be proud of – all the young people we have engaged, all the Councillors and MSPs we have met with, all the launches and events, all the coverage in the media, our research report, all the motions of support in local Councils and the Scottish Parliament.

I would like to especially note the achievement of meeting with Angela Constance MSP, then the Minister for Youth Employment, to change the guidance for EMA that will ensure that schools and local authorities know that young carers should be given flexibility due to their caring responsibilities. This will make a huge difference for young carers who are trying to balance caring with school and studying.

Recently, Louise and myself met with Michael Matheson MSP, the Minister for Public Health, to discuss the campaign and ask for his support as we continue to campaign for change for young carers. He listened to our concerns, and promised to speak with his colleagues and explore our proposals further.

We also have a meeting scheduled in early November to meet with Michael Russell MSP, the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, to discuss in particular additional bursaries for young carers in college or university. I hope that the outcome of this meeting is successful, and we will, of course, keep you all informed.

These meetings with the Scottish Government, which have led to real change, are due to all of your efforts, and the high profile we have in the Scottish Parliament. Because of all the work you have done locally to raise awareness and advocate change, we are able to make national policy changes. Thank you so much for this

There is much more that can be done locally to improve the lives of young carers across Scotland.

We need to let the young carers, schools, and local authorities know about the changes to EMA. We need to make sure young carers know their rights, and we need to make sure schools and local authorities know what their duties are.

We need to speak to colleges and universities in our local areas, and ask them to provide identification, support, and additional funding for young carers. We need to make sure that young carers are being encouraged as much as possible during these formative times.

We need to work with local transport providers and local councils to provide concessionary funding for young carers locally. We need to encourage collaboration, and make sure people work together to make life fairer for young carers.

Finally, we need to lobby elected officials to endorse and champion these issues.

The Phase 3 Toolkit, which will be released very soon, contains all the information you will need to plan events, write letters, use media, and lobby for these local changes. Please take the time to read it, and add your efforts to all the great work being done. Together, we can spread change across all of Scotland.

Together, we can do this.

As Care.Fair.Share. draws to a close, I want to say thank you to the whole Membership for all of your hard work and support these past nine months. This issue is very, very close to my heart, and it is inspiring to see so many of you advocating change and helping young carers demand positive change. We have made, and will continue to make, Scotland a fairer, better place for young carers.

Our work doesn’t stop here. Work hard in your local authorities, and watch out for the Phase 3 Toolkit, and any other information sent out about our achievements.

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask me, the Board, the Conveners, or the Staff Team.

And thank you again for all that you have done to make Care.Fair.Share. a success. Let’s make sure in these last few months, we do all we can to make life fairer for young carers!