Vice Chair Update November/ December 2014 – Terri Smith MSYP
Welcome to my fifth and final Vice Chair Update of 2014. This update is extra special as it’s the last one of the year. Therefore, I decided to make this a Christmas themed update, and use it as a platform to reflect on the past year.
I hope you are all excited for Christmas, which is two weeks today. There is also the X Factor final on Saturday, which I’m rather excited about – of course, Nana Lina and I are backing Andrea all the way #goRome!
This is a particularly exciting time of year. However for many people, the Christmas period isn’t as festive as it is for others. In Scotland, one in five young people still live in poverty and as we approach the launch of our new campaign in the New Year, I would like to encourage everyone to have a think about those who are less fortunate than us. If you have some free time and you are keen to make a difference, why don’t you get involved in a project in your local area? By finding out what local projects and events you can help support, you could make someone smile this festive period. Forth One’s ‘Mission Christmas’ is a great example of a positive initiative from one of my local radio stations.
What has your Vice Chair been up to?
A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of co-chairing the Children and Young People’s Pre Summit event with the Scottish Government. This was a unique opportunity whereby MSYPs and volunteers from Young Scot facilitated discussions with young people from across Scotland to find out their priorities for the country. The Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, and the Minister for Children and Young People were in attendance to hear the views expressed from the young people on the day.
Thursday 20th November 2014 marked the 25th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Joshua McCormick MSYP, Rhiordan Langan-Fortune MSYP, and I spent the morning interviewing Alison Todd, CEO of Children 1st, and, Tam Baillie, Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People. The action didn’t stop there! Later that day, I gave a speech at Together’s launch of their “State of Children’s Rights in Scotland 2014” report. I also interviewed Aileen Campbell MSP, Minister for Children and Young People, on what her thoughts were on the progress Scotland has made on implementing the UNCRC over the past 25 years. Finally, I also recently attended and presented an award at the ‘Spirit of Youth Awards’ in Perth, and I would just like to take this opportunity to congratulate all nominees and winners! I’ve been up to so much over the last month but I don’t want to spend too long talking about myself, so if you would like to know more then please feel free to ask.
I’ve been tying up loose ends locally by making sure everyone I work with knows about the progress of Care.Fair.Share., and ensuring everyone is aware that we are about to launch our new campaign in the New Year. I have been particularly busy in promoting the SYP elections, which are taking place in less than 100 days! So many young people have declared an interest to stand as a candidate, and Edinburgh in particular has seen a massive increase in numbers, which I believe is a real testament to the enthusiasm of young people.
I also recently delivered a youth engagement session with Calum Ware, one of our youth engagement workers, at the Junction in Leith. Once again, I can never reiterate enough how much I enjoy engaging with young people in my local community. Final thing from me, I promise! I got rather excited about the recommendations made by the Smith Commission, particularly on the prospect of devolving the electoral franchise, so I wrote an opinion piece on this for the Edinburgh Evening News.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world, indeed it is the only thing that ever had” – Margaret Mead
I’ve been looking forward to including these jokes for a while now, and I hope you laugh at them just as much as I did. The best Christmas jokes are:
Best MSYP jokes
Luke McLeod MSYP – What did the salt say to the pepper at Christmas? Season’s greetings.
Rachael McCully MSYP – Why did Santa’s helper go see a counsellor? Because he has low elf-esteem.
Best Conveners Group joke
Nancy Russell MSYP – What do you call someone who doesn’t believe in Santa? A rebel without a Claus.
Best Procedures Group joke
Robbie Nicoll MSYP – Why wasn’t the turkey hungry at Christmas? Because he was stuffed.
Best Board joke
Louise Cameron MSYP – Why did the Christmas lights all go to the party? Because when one goes out, they all go out!
As always, I never doubted you would all be carrying out exceptional work as we approach the end of this year. Therefore, I would like to give each and every MSYP a massive shoutout for their fantastic work throughout 2014! Please keep being inspirational, and bring the passion and enthusiasm with you into 2015!
My main shoutouts this month go to:
Catherine Hannah MSYP – Catherine went down to London to represent Scotland, as well as Shetland, at the UK Cabinet Office for the British Youth Council’s ‘Make Your Mark’ campaign. I was really pleased to see Shetland being recognised for their fantastic work over the last few months.
I would like to congratulate all of the Scottish MYPs who took part in the annual UKYP debate at the House of Commons. You were all phenomenal. However, I’d like to say massive well done to Junaid Ashraf MSYP who was an exceptional debate lead, and Eilidh Collins MSYP who made a remarkably thought-provoking speech commemorating World War One.
Robbie Nicoll MSYP – Robbie has been working exceptionally hard through engaging with every politician representing his constituency including his MSP, MP, and MEPs.
Mini Staff Interview
The final staff interview of 2014, and also the first one from our Projects Team, is with Claire Conachy who has been working at SYP since January 2014.
What does your job as the Projects Officer at SYP involve?
As with all jobs at SYP, my job is incredibly varied. My role involves writing project plans and timelines for things like We-CTV and the SYP Elections, liaising with other members of the SYP team on youth engagement and communications strategies for projects, liaising with other partners involved in projects, organising training for project champions, assisting in the creation of communications materials such as leaflets and flyers, writing packs and compiling evaluation reports, sourcing guests and speakers for events, assisting in the organisation of project related events and ensuring the excellent reputation of SYP is upheld through running such exciting projects!
What is the best thing about working at SYP?
There are lots of great things about working at SYP. Working on an amazing project like Aye Naw Mibbe at such a pivotal time for Scotland was pretty special. Knowing that I was in some way a part of the work of engaging and registering young voters is something I’ll always remember. Especially seeing such high numbers of first time voters turn out to vote – SYP helped make that happen, you should all be immensely proud! Seeing how passionate MSYPs are about projects, campaigns and Members Motions is also a highlight of the job – it makes you realise what you’re doing is really worthwhile, and it makes me very happy to support the work you do.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received and what’s the best piece of advice you’ve given?
I was always very inspired by an English teacher I had in school. He was incredibly passionate about his job and always offered great advice. He reminded me to have confidence in my own abilities, and to see life as a never ending quest for knowledge. I’ve done my fair share of collecting advice too. As some of you already know, I love dispensing inspirational quotes, and love my music and literature. There are a few things that have stuck in my mind over the years, to name but a few that I like to remember in times of need:
‘What matters most is how well you walk through the fire’ – Charles Bukowski
‘Courage is grace under pressure’ – Ernest Hemingway
‘No-one can make you feel inferior without your consent’ – Eleanor Roosevelt
‘I’d rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I am not’ – Kurt Cobain
‘Do or do not, there is no try.’ – Yoda
‘Nothing can dim the light which shines from within’ – Maya Angelou
And lastly, I recommend you all watch this video. It was originally a poem written by Mary Shmich, made into a song by Baz Luhrmann (the director of some fantastic Hollywood movies, Romeo and Juliet and The Great Gatsby to name a few). It’s a great source of wonderful advice. I hope you enjoy!
Finally, as there only weeks 3 weeks left of 2014, what has been your highlight of this year?
The year has been a rollercoaster year for me with lots of highlights. I started work at SYP in January, and I am grateful to have had the chance to work in such a vibrant organisation. Having the opportunity to vote in the independence referendum was a special experience. Meeting new friends in Edinburgh, some new friends for life, has also been pretty special. Lastly, though it pains me to admit it, moving to Edinburgh with my two friends has been a great highlight – I’m having such a great time getting to know this city, it’s a really beautiful place and the vibe here is very different to Glasgow. I hope everyone has a fabulous Christmas and New Year. I’m looking forward to catching up with you all in 2015!
Final thoughts of 2014
I asked all MSYPs what their highlights of this year have been, and every single one of you mentioned Shetland. From John Thain MSYP being thankful the ferry never sank, to Thomas McEachan MSYP describing the Sitting as ‘amazing’ – I think we can all agree Shetland was a weekend we will never forget.
There’s no denying 2014 has been a massive year for Scotland, and for all of us here at the Scottish Youth Parliament. We’ve conducted another successful national campaign highlighting the voices of those in need. Our country became the focus of the entire world with the independence referendum, we’ve hosted the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup, but most importantly, young people have been well and truly at the heart of 2014, and that’s because of all of you.
Finally, and I really do mean finally, I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank MSYPs, Support Workers, SYP Staff, and everyone else we’ve worked with this year for your continued hard work, commitment, and enthusiasm. I wish you all a very enjoyable festive period and all the very best for 2015!
Terri Smith MSYP
Vice Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament