Nairn McDonald MSYP speaks to Neil Mathers, Save the Children’s Head of Scotland, about the importance of child literacy in tackling poverty

June 3rd, 2015



Last week, I had the great honour of speaking to Neil Mathers, Save the Children’s Head of Scotland, about their latest campaign, Read On Get On, which aims to promote and encourage child literacy, and also SYP’s current campaign POVERTY: See It Change It.

Save The Children’s Read On Get On campaign aims to have all children able to read well by the age of 11, and looks at three specific aspects to achieve this: policy, attitudes, and behaviours. To support the campaign, the challenge is to promote and encourage ten minutes reading a day, but the important aspect is that it must be for enjoyment.

I spoke to Neil in depth about the relationship between poverty and literacy levels, and we discussed very interesting and important points. A child growing up in a socio-economically deprived area is much more likely not to be able to read well by the age of 11 (or primary 7 level). The impact of this doesn’t just extend to the educational aspects one might immediately consider. As children, we pick up much of our vocabulary from what we read, but more importantly, what we read and are actually able to comprehend. So a child that doesn’t have those literacy skills may find the social aspects of life difficult. Crucially, we mustn’t forget the importance of comprehension in literacy: a child could be a very competent reader, i.e they can recognise sounds and patterns and read the words, but if they don’t understand the words, the process is defunct.

When speaking about the impact literacy has on later life, it can be severe – children not reading well by age 11 can be playing catch up for the rest of their lives. We know from current research that children living in poverty often preform worse in school than their peers. We also know that many link poverty and eduction together, believing that a good and comprehensive education could be an effective way to tackle poverty by providing children and young people with the skills to escape what can seem like the never ending poverty cycle.

We also spoke about the part teachers can play. In current times, it is common place for a teacher to set homework by saying; “Go online and research this topic or play this game etc.” Now to may of us, this would be simple: we would go home and do it, but for a young person living in poverty, who doesn’t have access to internet or a computer, this can be a difficult challenge. As Neil said, the occasional time where the child needs to find a friend’s computer to use or go to the library isn’t a huge deal, but we both agreed that when it starts being once a week or more it becomes a penalising factor. The same goes for basic materials, never mind trips or additional costs. We need stop penalising children in schools for not having the required resources, and failing to recognise that maybe buying these resources would mean a cut somewhere else in that week’s budget.

Nairn1When I asked Neil about the political interest in tackling poverty, he said that in their experience in Scotland, it was very much at the top of our political agenda thanks to the work of all our partners and our own campaigns. However, the story couldn’t be more different at a UK level. Neil said it was a “tough job” to keep it at the top of Westminster’s agenda.

Neil then gave a message of support for our campaign saying: “It’s vital that organisations like Save the Children and the Scottish Youth Parliament, and also young people in general, draw attention to the huge impact of poverty, but also the factors that cause poverty so that we can try to stop the future young people from suffering the effects of poverty.”

I would like to urge all MSYPs and young people to get behind Save the Nairn2Children’s campaign to get all young people and children to read for at least 10 minutes a day. Take some quirky pictures like I have, and encourage everyone you know to read more and to support others to read more too. I have always enjoyed reading. It offers me an escape from the world around me and allows me to feel free even in the most stressful situations. From Dickens to Clinton, from Clinton to Shakespeare, you would be hard pressed to find an author that I couldn’t find a book I like from. My love of reading is as much to do with circumstance as it is personal choice. My nana is a huge reader and she watched me a lot when I was young when both my parents were working, so reading was drummed into me at an early stage, and I thank her for it now.

To end, I want to quote the best singer of all time and one of my favourite artists, Frank Sinatra, and nicely summarise what I have for Save the Children and SYP’s individual campaigns: “He’s got high hopes, he’s got high hopes, he’s got high apple pie in the sky hopes.”

Nairn McDonald MSYP

Vice Chair Update May 2015 – @3terrismith

June 1st, 2015

The final update of the 2013-15 term – “End of an era”
Terri Smith MSYP

Hello everyone and welcome to my last ever Vice Chair update! Yes, that’s right, I am now coming to the end of my time as your Vice Chair, but more importantly we are all coming to the end of our terms, with only two weeks left (sad I know). It really is the end of era, and the last two years have certainly flown by. It doesn’t seem long ago we all got elected, neither does it feel like an entire year since we all ventured up to Shetland for the 2014 AGM. Over the past two years, we have experienced the European elections, the Scottish referendum, and, most recently, the General Election. Miley Cyrus has come in like a wrecking ball, Russia nearly won Eurovision, and I’ve still not been given a part in EastEnders. There have been far too many laughs and memories to try and include them all here today, but I hope you enjoy reading this and use it has a reflection of your time at SYP.


What has your Vice Chair been up to?

I’ve tried to cram in as much as I can over the last month. I attended my first ever Young Scot Awards, and as it was the 10th anniversary of the awards ceremony, it was the prime time for me to experience my first one. It was all glitz and glamour, filled with achievements and inspirational stories, and I would like to congratulate all of the nominees, finalists, and winners. I also chaired the last Conveners Group meeting of this membership, where there was some fantastic last minute work on the POVERTY: See it Change It campaign. I would like to thank all ten Conveners for their hard work and dedication over the last year.

I, along with the other Edinburgh MSYPs and MSYP-elects, attended the General Election count in Edinburgh. The atmosphere was electric, and many of us managed to stay the entire night. I also delivered a youth engagement session in one the Edinburgh high schools with Calum Ware, one of our youth engagement workers, which was fantastic. Doing work with young people in my local area is the thing I enjoy the most, so I had a great time.


Terri’s Corner

“The only person you should try and be better than is the person you were yesterday.”

Thank you for all your submissions over the last year: they have made me laugh so much, so many times. The reason I included a joke section in my update was because you all know I like a bit of banter, but most importantly, I wanted to share some joy with you all. Laughing really is the best medicine.

My favourite jokes have been:

Mason Rowan MSYP’s joke from the August update – A man walks into a bar with a roll of tarmac under his arm. “Pint please”, he asks, “And one for the road.”

Hazel Sharp MSYP’s joke from the September update – I went to a really emotional wedding the other day. Even the cake was in tiers.

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

Nancy Russell MSYP’s joke from the February update – What did Jay-Z call his wife before they got married? Feyonce.

“End of an Era – time to reminisce”

What has been your favourite memory/moment at SYP?

Megan Russell MSYP – My favourite memory by far was playing “never have I ever” on the way to Shetland.

John Gillies MSYP – Martyna and Mason’s wedding in Pizza Hut in London.

Lauren King MSYP – My proudest moment was meeting Mike Russell MSP to discuss a young carer’s bursary with Louise and Katie.

Colleen Brown MSYP –When me, Ewan, Thomas, Laurie, Jamie, Martyna, Isra, and Abbie were having a High School Musical sing along on the ferry.

Jordan Linden MSYP – Me and the SYP crew going to Belfast in 2013, me and the North Lanarkshire contingent at our Shetland sitting. Me and Fordie, Thomas, and Rab on the Ferry, and me, David, James, Rachael, and the crew at the “Big Debate” at the Hydro on the indyref.

Blast from the past here are some of  your favourite pictures from the 2013-15 term!







Mini Staff Interview  

Last but not least, the last staff member to take part in the Mini Staff Interview is Jamie Dunlop, who is currently the Scottish Youth Parliament’s Acting Chief Executive, but is also our Youth Engagement Coordinator. He has been working at SYP since July 2013. For those of who don’t know, Jamie used to be the MSYP for Central Fife in 2005-2009. That now completes all the staff interviews – a massive thank you to each and every single one of you for taking part.

What does your job at SYP entail?
My main focus at the Scottish Youth Parliament is youth engagement. I manage the organisation’s Youth Engagement, UK and international Work (Including UK Youth Parliament and the UK Young Ambassadors Programme), and our local authority and partnership work. At the moment, I am Acting Chief Executive, working with Gareth and the team in the interim before the New Chief Executive, Ben McKendrick, starts in July.

If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go and why?
I am travelling to Kenya at the end of July to visit friends, go on safari, and volunteer my time with a charity called Vision Africa. Why Kenya? My friend moved out to Kenya last year to become Parton of Vision Africa, and support the work of the charity and various projects they run. I am most looking forward to going out and meeting all of the young people they work with! For more information about Vision Africa visit

I am taking a case of donations over to Kenya for the young people in the projects and wonder if any of you have any old shoes that you would like to donate, or if any of your siblings have any shoes that don’t fit anymore. If you have, then please bring them along to the June sitting and I will have a collection point. I’ll also take lots of photos and share them on social media when I am away. If you have any questions about this, please get in touch with me.

What is your favourite quote and why?
“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” – Albert Einstein

I love trying new food, cultures, experiences, and meeting new people. I am not afraid of making mistakes (although I try not too) as it is one of the best way to learn and reflect!

Final Thoughts

Goodbye from me 
My time as Vice Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament has come to end. From the bottom of my heart, I cannot thank you all enough for investing your confidence in me by first and foremost electing me as your Vice Chair. It has been a privilege to serve as your Vice Chair, and I have relished every experience and opportunity. I have learnt so much, and the experience has had a huge impact on me as a person. You’ve all certainly kept me on my toes and your banter has been second to none. Thank you for all your hard work and contributions to the Scottish Youth Parliament. I hope you’ve had the time of your lives – I know I certainly have. I would also like to say one huge thank you to my amazing Board colleagues for their support and encouragement. Well, that’s all from me. I really do wish you all the very best in all that you do – grab every opportunity and make the most of your life.

Goodbye, good luck, and remember to keep in touch!


Terri Smith MSYP

Vice Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament

Young people’s voices should be heard in the EU Referendum – @weezeontoast

May 26th, 2015

Young people’s voices should be heard in the EU Referendum

Ahead of the introduction of the EU Referendum Bill to the UK Parliament, Louise Cameron MSYP, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament, has urged the UK Government to extend the franchise to 16- and 17-year-olds. Louise said:

“The decision about whether the United Kingdom remains a part of the European Union or votes to leave, is a hugely important decision that 16- and 17-year-olds must be a part of.

“This is a decision that will affect our future. As a nation, we need a fair and accessible debate about the future of our EU membership, and we cannot possibly achieve that by excluding the voices of our country’s 16- and 17-year-olds.

“No longer can we continue to deny young people a voice and exclude them from shaping debates on so many issues that affect their lives. Young people are the future our country, and they are also here working hard, paying tax, starting families, and living their lives now – they deserve to have their say about their future, and not have it decided for them.

“The young people of Scotland proved, through their engagement in the referendum process, that they take their right to vote very seriously, and they have collectively crushed all of the myths and arguments against a lowered voting age.

“We know young people are engaged and enthusiastic about participating in democracy. We should be proud of this. We should be encouraging young people to have their say and shape their own futures. We should be focusing on engaging young people in politics and harnessing their enthusiasm, not sending messages that suggest their voices do not matter.

“As the democratically elected voice of Scotland’s young people, the Scottish Youth Parliament has always known that 16-and 17-year-olds are capable of making informed decisions when it comes to voting, and we have been campaigning for Votes at 16 since the start of our organisation in 1999. We are delighted that the voting age will be lowered to 16 in time for the next Scottish Parliament elections, and we believe this will have a very positive impact on the overall levels of engagement. While fantastic progress has been made, we will continue to campaign for Votes at 16 in all elections.”

I want us to champion the message that “care should never mean compromise” – A message from Lauren King MSYP

May 21st, 2015

I want us to champion the message that “care should never mean compromise” – A message from Lauren King MSYP


As a young carer, I have experienced first-hand how difficult it is to care, be in education, and hold down a job. Many of the young carers that I know personally are continuously struggling to make ends meet. Knowing this, and experiencing first-hand how challenging it can be, has made me even more determined and passionate to campaign for young carers to ease a little bit of the pressure that comes with caring responsibilities by alleviating the looming financial burden that young carers so often face.

Throughout 2014, I led the Scottish Youth Parliament’s national campaign, Care.Fair.Share., which has aimed to ensure that young carers are treated fairly by urging the Scottish Government to ease the financial strain facing young carers.

I am delighted that as a result of our campaign, the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS) has revised its eligibility criteria for grants, which means more of Scotland’s young carers can access the funding necessary to support them in further and higher education. This is fantastic progress towards achieving a fairer society which recognises the importance of supporting all of Scotland’s young people to access equal opportunities and achieve their full potential. Young carers provide an invaluable service to their families and society, and should not have to face financial hardship and compromise. I hope the amendments to SAAS’s eligibility criteria for funding will support many young carers to access the education they truly want and deserve.

Promoting fairness and equality for young carers is an issue that is so close to my heart, and to know we have made a real difference is absolutely amazing. Throughout our campaign, I have learned a lot about myself. I feel more confident as a person, but I have also learned that I can encourage others to make a change that will aid the lives of so many young carers in Scotland. It has shown me that a small idea can be made big! After all, the campaign started as a Members’ Motion. It has shown me the full process of how change can be made through SYP, and it has truly been the highlight of my four years as a Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament.

Although Care.Fair.Share. has helped Scotland make fantastic progress, we cannot become complacent in our quest to ensure young carers are treated fairly by society and government policies. We must continue to call for further recognition and support for young carers, and as a nation, be able to ensure a young person’s caring responsibilities never prevent them from accessing the same opportunities as their peers. We must continue to defend and extend the welfare and well-being of young carers the length and breadth of Scotland. Loud and clear, far and wide, I want us to champion the message that care should never mean compromise.


Lauren King MSYP

Lauren King is an MSYP for Motherwell and Wishaw. As a young carer herself, Lauren passionately led the Scottish Youth Parliament’s 2014 national campaign, Care.Fair.Share.

The Scottish Youth Parliament appoints new Chief Executive

May 11th, 2015


The Scottish Youth Parliament appoints new Chief Executive

The Scottish Youth Parliament has appointed Ben McKendrick as its Chief Executive. Ben joins SYP from Myeloma UK, and will take up post at our Edinburgh Office in July.

Speaking about the appointment, Louise Cameron MSYP, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament, said:

“I am delighted to announce that we have appointed Ben McKendrick as the new Chief Executive of the Scottish Youth Parliament.

“The process to appoint a successor to Hamira Khan attracted some high quality candidates, and in Ben McKendrick we have a Chief Executive who brings a wealth of experience, insight and enthusiasm.

“I have no doubt that Ben will take the organisation forward with commitment and passion, building on Hamira’s great work over the past five years. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Hamira for her fantastic work during her time at SYP, and her dedication to empowering Scotland’s young people.

“I am very much looking forward to welcoming Ben to SYP, and I am confident we can expect great and exciting things from the organisation under Ben’s guidance and leadership.”

Our votes will decide the next UK Government – @weezeontoast

May 6th, 2015

Louise Cameron MSYP, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament

Young people could decide the next UK Government. It’s that simple. We have a huge opportunity to ensure that the issues that are important to us take centre stage with only one day left before the General Election.

The referendum in Scotland sparked a renewed interest in politics and democratic processes among young people. More than ever before, politicians had to go the extra mile to engage young people about the issues that matter most to them. The General Election should be no different.

At the Scottish Youth Parliament, we champion the importance of civic and political participation. We passionately believe that young people should be participants in democratic processes, and that elected representatives have a duty to listen to our views given that many of their decisions will directly affect our lives. We go out into communities and talk to young people about why it’s important to vote, and why our votes matter. Traditionally, we have always said that it doesn’t matter what the election is, it is important to vote no matter what. However, I cannot help but see the unique opportunity presented to us in this election.

A recent poll conducted by YouGov suggests that 68% of young voters between the ages of 18-24 will definitely vote. In addition, a further poll conducted by YouGov earlier in March commissioned by the British Youth Council showed that as many as two out of three young people were undecided about where their vote will go. This provides us with an opportunity to define the election campaign. As a group of voters, our views and choices matter in this election.

With the polls showing that the outcome of the election is too close to call, and with the likelihood of a hung parliament increasing by the day, there is a massive opportunity for young people in Scotland, and across the rest of the UK, to push the parties on the issues that matter most to us.

By the end of the next parliament, many of us will be seeking our first job, buying our first house, starting a family etc. It’s important that we recognise the impact our votes can have on many of these issues over the next five years. We should push the candidates in our areas to outline their plans for improving employment opportunities, for creating more apprenticeships, for eradicating child and youth poverty, for providing more affordable housing, for increasing wages, for advancing and protecting human rights. These are the issues that matter to me. But what matters to you?

Whatever matters to you, you as a young voter have the opportunity to get the answers you need to decide who you should vote for in this election. Make no mistake about it, the candidates need your vote. Your vote and your voice matters.

With one day still left, I would really urge the young people in Scotland and across the rest of the UK to grasp this election by the scruff of its neck, and ensure it delivers better outcomes for you, and the other young people in your area.

Most importantly of all, no matter your views, or what issues are important to you, make sure you vote on 7th May.

POVERTY: See It Change It – Nicole Dempster MSYP meets with Alison Todd, CEO of CHILDREN 1ST

April 28th, 2015


I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Alison Todd, CEO of CHILDREN 1st. CHILDREN 1ST is an amazing organisation that supports children and young people living in poverty. It works to ensure every child and young person in Scotland has a happy, healthy, safe and secure childhood. CHILDREN 1ST provides services like ParentLine and assists in how to deal with trauma, while also speaking out on the policy in this area to ensure children and young people are represented and have a voice.

In order to learn more about the work of this fantastic organisation, and find out what role the Scottish Youth Parliament can take on to support this work through our new campaign, POVERTY: See It Change It, Alison and I spoke in detail about various topics.

Alison began by making it clear just how detrimental and traumatising living in poverty can be for a child or young person. It really does pervade every aspect of life, from a lack of opportunities to a lack of hope or aspiration. With the cost of living higher than ever, even for those fortunate enough to be living a life out of poverty, things can be very expensive. As we all know, the cost of things we enjoy carry additional financial burdens: sport and leisure, cinema trips, school trips, and even school resources – the list is endless.

Another really important point that Alison made during our conversation was that having a mobile phone does not mean a child is not living in poverty. We need to stop stereotyping poverty and the type of people poverty affects. We need to stop thinking of poverty as being something that only affects people living on the street. Poverty is so often stereotyped that many do not realise the impact is has and how many lives it affects. It can take many forms, and at SYP we recognise this by emphasising the importance of stopping the stigma that exists around what it means to be living in poverty.

After Alison made it clear just how big an issue this is, I asked her about how she believes we could best tackle it. I was really interested to hear her opinions around the importance of a living wage as this is an issue that is very close to my heart. Alison recognised that working often doesn’t pay, which makes in-work poverty a huge issue as people face real struggles to cover the cost of living because the minimum wage is not a living wage. We are also one of only five European countries not protecting our children and young people from assault in the form of smacking from parents. There is also major work to be done when it comes to addressing issues such as the accessibility of facilities such as transport, sport and leisure.

After such an engaging chat with Alison, I was excited to hear how we can work in partnership together. She gave us her support for our campaign, POVERTY: See It Change It. Her hope is that as the democratically elected voice of Scotland’s young people, we will champion the call to end poverty, and pressure decision makers to actually take real action to combat child and youth poverty in Scotland.

Nicole Dempster MSYP



70,000 votes cast in Scottish Youth Parliament National Elections

April 21st, 2015


Nearly 70,000 young people from all over Scotland have voted to elect their local Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYPs) in the 2015 Scottish Youth Parliament national elections.

Following almost three months of campaigning from young candidates across Scotland, young people aged 12-25 were asked to cast their vote to elect their local MSYP. Young people were able to cast their vote by submitting a paper ballot or using the secure e-Voting platform facilitated by Young Scot, depending on the method chosen by their local authority.

The elections were open for two weeks and held between Monday 2nd and Friday 13th March 2015. The results were announced at a series of events held by individual local authorities between Friday 13th March and Wednesday 25th March 2015, where many of the local authority Chief Executives acted as Returning Officers.

A full list of the newly elected Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament can be found The newly elected MSYPs will take up office at the Scottish Youth Parliament’s National Sitting in June 2015.

The Scottish Youth Parliament is the democratically elected voice of Scotland’s young people. It provides a national platform for young people to discuss issues important to them and affect the change they wish to see.

Speaking after the 2015 SYP election results, Louise Cameron MSYP, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament, said:

“I’m delighted to announce that a record turnout of 70,000 young people made their voices heard by casting their vote in the Scottish Youth Parliament’s 2015 national elections.

“Over the past few months, we’ve witnessed fantastic campaigning taking place all over the country, with passionate debates and hustings inspiring Scotland’s young people to get involved in the democratic process by voting in the Scottish Youth Parliament elections. It has been a truly extraordinary journey, and the success of the elections is a real testament to the commitment and enthusiasm of young people to further their involvement in political decision making and ensure their voices are at the forefront of shaping society. I’d like to congratulate all of the candidates, and wish the best of luck to the newly elected MSYPs.

“Through our work at the Scottish Youth Parliament, we know that young people engage with and are interested in issue-based politics. Young people want to have their say about the issues that affect their lives, but often the focus on negative party politics is off-putting for young people and leads to disengagement.

“For me, engaging young voters is a priority that transcends party politics, and I hope the success of the Scottish Youth Parliament elections will help to encourage politicians to put the party politics to one side and harness young people’s enthusiasm for politics by focusing on the issues and discussions that matter to them.”

Vice Chair Update March 2015 – @3TERRISMITH

April 8th, 2015

Hello everyone; it’s just me again.

We are now at the end of what I have been calling ‘manic March.’ Last month, we saw the 2015 Scottish Youth Parliament national elections come to an almighty end. We all attended the Scottish Youth Parliament’s 56th National Sitting in the capital city, Edinburgh. As well as this, we got dressed to the nines for the ever so fantastic annual SYP Awards ceremony, which took place at Edinburgh Zoo this year. This month, I’ve now totally given up on watching TV, partly because I’ve not had the time, but also because there is nothing remotely exciting to watch.

It’s now officially British summer time (or in Scotland, extended winter), Mother’s Day has been and gone, and Easter is fast-approaching. I hope you all have an enjoyable April, and I hope you didn’t overdo the April Fools’ Day pranks (I certainly did not), and don’t eat too much chocolate.


What has your Vice Chair been up to?

At the beginning of the month, I went down to London to represent Scotland at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Celebration Day of a ‘Young Commonwealth’ with Louise Cameron MSYP, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament. This was a fantastic event where I met young people from all over the Commonwealth and had the opportunity to speak to ambassadors from around the world. At the Sitting in Edinburgh, I made my last and ever-so-emotional Vice Chair speech to all of you, which I hope you enjoyed. I had the pleasure of attending and presenting an award at the SYP Awards ceremony. Last week, I went up to Inverness with five other MSYPs and I co-chaired the Children and Young People’s Summit with the Scottish Government, young people, and Children in Scotland. The event was attended Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon MSP, and her Cabinet, who I believe thoroughly enjoyed the event. Lastly, I attended the We-CTV Awards Ceremony in Glasgow, which was a unique experience to showcase the creativity and talents of Scotland’s young people, as well as emphasise the importance of tackling interpersonal violence.

I was proud to tune in online to watch the City of Edinburgh Council’s last full meeting, where they debated and unanimously supported a motion in support of the Scottish Youth Parliament’s campaign for 2015, POVERTY: See It Change It, as well as pledging to do more to combat child and youth poverty. Apart from that, it’s been fairly quietly locally while the national elections have been in full swing. I would like to take a minute to say a special well done to all the young people in Edinburgh who took part in the #SYPElex.


Terri’s Corner

“Things do not get better by chance, they get better by change.” I don’t know where this quote originates from, but it comes with a story attached.  Over the last few weeks, I haven’t been myself and someone was kind enough to remind me that I had written this quote in my 2011 SYP Manifesto. I think it has a very poignant meaning and reflects our organisation, which we all love and cherish well.


I had so many jokes sent me this time that I found it hard to choose the best ones, but thank you as always.

Best Board Joke
Nairn McDonald MSYP – Can February March? No but April May.

Best Conveners Group Joke
Nancy Russell MSYP – I used to think there was an ocean of fizzy juice – but it was a fanta sea.

Best Procedures Group Joke
Robbie Nicoll MSYP – What do you call a security guard at a Samsung store? Guardian of the Galaxy.

Best MSYP Joke
Denzel Darku MSYP – Who is the best and most good looking guy at the hospital? The ultra-sound guy.


Kirsty McCahill MSYP – Congratulations on your election as Chair of South Aryshire Youth Forum.

Kayleigh Finnigan MSYP – Congratulations on your election as Chair of North Lanarkshire Youth Council.

Big shoutout to the We-CTV Champions for their work and commitment to the project, but in particular, well done to Melissa Gorman MSYP, Martyna Napiereska MSYP, Thomas McEachan MSYP, and Rachael McCully MSYP, for their enthusiasm at the award ceremony last week – “popcorn anyone.”

I’d finally like to give a huge shout out to the winners from the #SYPAawards15 – you highlighted just how much MSYPs go above and beyond what is expected of them, and every one was a worthy winner and true ambassador to the young people of Scotland.


Mini Staff Interview  

The staff interview for this month is with Hamira Khan, who is sadly leaving SYP in just over one week. For anyone who doesn’t know, this ever-so fabulous lady is the Chief Executive of the Scottish Youth Parliament and has been working with us since August 2010.

1) How would you describe your time at SYP?  

I’ve had the privilege to work with 3 sets of membership over my (nearly) 5 years at SYP. My time here has been inspiring, fun, often challenging, and occasionally infuriating – exactly the right mix as far as I’m concerned! A key trait of my work has been the people I’ve had the privilege to work with, inc. MSYPs past and present, Support Workers, the SYP staff team and partner organisations. All of whom have been greatly passionate about what they do and a joy to be around.

2) What is your favourite quote and why?  

I really love this question because if you ask anyone in the office, they’ll tell you I’m always sharing quotes or taking pics of good quotes and saving them for when I need an inspirational top-up.

My favourite quote is by the American author and poet Maya Angelou:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

3) What is your favourite thing about Scotland and why?  

Definitely the people; they’re absolutely hilarious. So funny, cheeky and borderline inappropriate, and we always get away with it just because we’re Scottish. I’ve also noticed that wherever you travel in the world everyone loves it when you say you’re from Scotland, because they know we’re hard working people, we’re polite but forthright and honest. We’ll say what we mean. We’re brave, stubborn, and courageous, but most importantly we’re practical and down-to-earth. I think we’re a nation of very grounded and matter-of-fact people, who don’t like pretenses or ‘fake-ness’. I’m moving abroad with my new job, but Scotland will always be my home and I’ll forever champion Scottish people and Scottish culture.

4) What do you like to do in your spare time?  
The week is always about work and luckily I have a husband who understands and respects the fact I am career driven and love my job. I get home very late during the week and normally have a catch up with Ali about our day, watch some news and potter around before bed and getting up early again for my daily commute. So at the weekends when I have spare time, I cherish them enormously and for me my weekend (unless it’s a Sitting!) is all about family and food.

A typical weekend would be going out for breakfast in the West End of Glasgow where I live, followed by a walk and lots of fresh air (or if it’s raining watching a DVD whilst lazing around indoors). I’m currently on House of Cards, or my secret fixation – Come Dine with Me (don’t judge!). In the evening we always have plans with family or friends, which is normally dinner somewhere nice with lots of good conversation and sharing stories.

Generally speaking in my spare time I’m quite into Bikram Yoga, cooking and I love a bit of interior design. I’ve always got a ‘project’ on the go at home. Currently I’m making my own seating booth in the kitchen. Will share pics when it’s finally ready :)

5) Do you have any advice for our MSYPs?

Put yourself forward for opportunities. Don’t wait for the ‘right time’ – go for it. Be courageous. Always be polite to others around you. Listen with the intent to understand. Most people listen with the intent to reply. Surround yourself with positive people who will continue to motivate and inspire you. Be kinder to yourself – you’re brilliant and if you don’t believe it, then who else will? Always challenge yourself to do more and do better. And of course there’s going to be days when you’re feeling down – but what you need to do is just pick yourself up and carry on and keep going and going – until you get to where you want to be and you achieve those goals you set out to achieve. Nothing’s going to land on your doorstep; you must go out and get it and live that dream.


Final thoughts 

MSYPs have shared their thoughts on the Children and Young People’s Summit in Inverness:

Jordan Linden MSYP – “The opportunity to engage with young people and to hear their views on the important issues facing Scotland today in the presence of the First Minister and her Cabinet was a privilege. I hope that they listen to the amazing views and take them forward in their actions.”

Nicola Bruley MSYP – “Inspiring to see young people be engaged with the people who make the decisions of our country.”

MSYPs’ thoughts on #SYP56:

John Thain MSYP – “A fabulous way to end a fabulous two years”

Luke McLeod MSYP – “It was a momentous way to end a Membership which has had highs and lows for every member! It was a great end of an era for Hamira, and I wish all the MSYPs leaving us a bright and prosperous future.”

The Procedures Group are going to close their consultation survey on Subject Committees soon, so make sure you have your say.

That’s all from me for March. I hope you all enjoyed this month as much as I did, and I look toward to hearing what you get up to in coming weeks. In the meantime, any questions, queries, or of course banter, send it my way.

Terri Smith MSYP
Vice Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament

POVERTY: See It Change It – Joshua McCormick MSYP meets with Tam Baillie, Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People

March 23rd, 2015

From the organisation that brought you Care.Fair.Share., Love Equally, and One Fair Wage, the Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP) is now leading another important campaign for Scotland’s young people since Votes at 16: POVERTY: See It Change It. This is a campaign aiming to raise awareness amongst young people about child and youth poverty, highlight young people’s rights to an adequate standard of living, combat popular stigma associated with poverty, and finally, challenge elected leaders and key stakeholders to work together to uphold the UK-wide commitment to tackle child poverty by 2020.

As member of the Scottish Youth Parliament for Cunninghame South, I have seen poverty first-hand and witnessed the detrimental effect it has on young people and their opportunities in life. The cycle of poverty is the number one cause of North Ayrshire’s struggle to give its children and young people the best start in life, and that is why I fully support SYP’s campaign. I hope we can make elected representatives and key stakeholders sit up and listen to what young people have to say on this issue.

SYP_Poverty_Logo_FINALIn politics, difficult issues like poverty don’t get fixed unless a dialogue is started and that’s what this blog is about. I was lucky enough to meet with Tam Baillie, Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People, recently to discuss the issues surrounding child and youth poverty and hear his thoughts on the situation.

When I spoke to the Commissioner about the work SYP is involved in through the campaign, he remarked on the need for safe spaces to be created so young people could come forward and speak openly about their experiences with poverty and the stigma which surrounds it. Tam emphasised to me during our discussion that when we consider poverty, we must also consider the impact upon an individual’s rights. There is clear evidence to show that young people living in poverty are negatively impacted; it affects their rights to grow up well; their access to education and employment; and a healthy life free of mental health risks. During the discussion, the Commissioner also raised the point about his office’s recent report on young people’s views on education and poverty which led to the Scottish Government taking direct action to support things like cost of school uniforms and school trips.

Finally, when the conversation was coming to a close, I asked Tam what he thought about the campaign SYP had taken on. He said, “The SYP are giving young people a real voice, a real opportunity to influence and change the way things are. Keep up the pressure!” Tam’s words inspired me and ring true – the Scottish Youth Parliament is enfranchising young people by empowering their voices. At the moment, the 2015 SYP elections have drawn to a close and I am delighted we have witnessed an unprecedented volume of young people standing as candidates and voting. However, SYP isn’t only about its elected representatives – we need more young people from across Scotland to get involved in our campaign to tackle child poverty. Together we can keep the pressure on, and together we can end child poverty in Scotland by 2020.


Joshua McCormick MSYP