Youth democracy holds 56th National Sitting in Scotland’s Capital

March 20th, 2015

Youth democracy holds 56th National Sitting in Scotland’s Capital

Today (Friday 20th March 2015), the Scottish Youth Parliament will host its 56th national Sitting at the Edinburgh Training and Conference Venue.

The Scottish Youth Parliament is the democratically elected voice of Scotland’s young people. Nearly 160 Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYPs), who are elected every two years, meet three times a year at National Sittings to debate policy, select campaign priorities, and host events with stakeholders and other guests.

This weekend is the last national Sitting of the current Membership. Each Membership is elected for a two year term. Following the SYP Elections 2015, which took place between 2nd March and 13th March, the MSYP elects will form the new Membership of the Scottish Youth Parliament from June 2015.

During the evening of Friday 20th March 2015, the SYP Awards will take place. As a youth-led organisation, the SYP Awards is a hugely significant occasion which recognises the outstanding work that Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYPs) and their Support Workers do to represent Scotland’s young people. This event will provide an important opportunity to reflect on the legacy of the current Membership, and celebrate their commitment to ensuring young people are at the heart of shaping Scotland’s future.

Speaking about the two-day event, the Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament, Louise Cameron MSYP said:

“The Scottish Youth Parliament’s National Sitting is a fantastic opportunity for elected young people from across Scotland to come together and debate the issues of importance to their constituents. This will be the last Sitting of the current Membership, and I can confidently speak on behalf of the Membership when I say we have been on an extraordinary journey together over the past two years.

“It has been an honour to have represented Scotland’s young people as an MSYP. Since June 2013, SYP has held 6 national Sittings across the country, venturing as far as the Shetland Islands for our June 2015 AGM, and we’ve debated numerous issues that our constituents have told us are important to them, including zero hour contracts, work experience, among many others.

“We have campaigned on a range of issues of importance to Scotland’s young people, and helped foster a stronger, more inclusive Scotland by empowering young people to be truly involved in the decision-making process.

“One of my highlights as an MSYP has been witnessing the huge increase in the level of engagement of Scotland’s young people with politics. Around 80% of 16- and 17-year-olds registered to vote in the independence referendum, and knowing that SYP contributed to this legacy by engaging with over 18,500 young people and registered thousands of first time voters makes me extremely proud to have been an MSYP during this momentous occasion in our country’s history.

“I am particularly looking forward to the 2015 SYP Awards, and having the opportunity to celebrate the work of my fellow MSYPs, and their passion and commitment to ensuring the voices of Scotland’s young people continue to be heard and recognised by our country’s decision makers.”

Terri Smith, MSYP for Edinburgh Northern and Leith, will be welcoming her fellow MSYPs to her TerriSmith hometown for the Sitting this weekend. Terri said:

“It’s great to be holding the 56th Scottish Youth Parliament Sitting in Edinburgh, which I am proud to represent. Following the recent SYP elections, I know my fellow MSYPs are looking forward to coming together for the final Sitting of our term and representing the voices of our constituents.

“SYP’s national elections were a huge occasion for Scotland’s young people, and I am delighted to have been re-elected as a Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament for Edinburgh Northern and Leith. While this Sitting will mark the final meeting of a Membership who have enjoyed two fantastic years filled with an array of historic achievements, I am looking forward to working with the future Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament and helping drive real change.”

Scottish Party Leaders call on young people to vote in Scottish Youth Parliament National Elections

March 12th, 2015

Scottish Party Leaders call on young people to vote in Scottish Youth Parliament National Elections

Young people are being urged to have their say as the deadline approaches for voting in the Scottish Youth Parliament elections.

Young people aged 12-25 are able to cast their vote to elect their local Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament until Friday 13th March 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.

Young people can cast their vote by submitting a paper ballot or using the e-voting system, depending on the method chosen by their local authority.

Further information on candidates standing for election can be found at


Nairn McDonald MSYP was re-elected as a Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament for Cunninghame South in 2013, and after 4 years as an MSYP, Nairn has chosen not to stand for re-election. Speaking about his time as an MSYP, Nairn said:

Nairn SYP bibble“The current Membership of the Scottish Youth Parliament has campaigned on a range of issues of importance to Scotland’s young people over the past two years. I’m so proud to have been at the heart of campaigns which have helped to shape historic changes in our society, such as the lowering of the voting age, marriage equality, and the implementation of policies to help young carers facing financial hardship.

“During my time as an MSYP, I’ve witnessed a huge increase in the level of engagement of Scotland’s young people with politics. Around 80% of 16- and 17-year-olds registered to vote in the independence referendum, and knowing that SYP engaged with over 18,500 young people and registered thousands of first time voters makes me extremely proud to have been an MSYP during this momentous occasion in our country’s history.

“As an organisation, we have passionately advocated for young people through three national campaigns. We’ve held 6 national Sittings across the country, venturing as far as the Shetland Islands for our June 2015 AGM, and debated numerous issues that our constituents have told us are important to them.

“This election is a hugely momentous occasion for Scotland’s young people, and with enthusiastic and committed young people at the forefront of shaping our society, I believe we can all look forward to substantive positive change driven by the future Members of SYP.

“Being a Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament is a truly life-changing experience. I hope that everyone engages with the election campaigns taking place in their local area, and casts a vote for the candidate they would like to represent their views.”


Leaders and representatives of Scotland’s main political parties shared messages of support for all of those standing as candidates in the Scottish Youth Parliament national elections.


First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“Scotland’s young people have never been more engaged in politics. Giving 16 and 17 year olds the chance to vote in the referendum helped hugely in fuelling the democratic engagement that saw a massive turnout of almost 85 per cent, with a record 3.6 million people turning out to vote, including more than 100,000 16 to 17 year-olds.

“I hope we see a continuation in that political engagement and wish all the candidates in the Scottish Youth Parliament National Elections the very best of luck.”


Deputy Leader of the Scottish Labour Party, Kezia Dugdale MSP, said:

“Young people are often called the future of our democracy, but they are much more than that. The Scottish Youth Parliament is a fantastic opportunity for young people to shape Scottish politics today. I hope as many people as possible vote and stand in these important elections”


Scottish Conservative young people spokeswoman Liz Smith said:

“Young Scots proved themselves to be an engaged and articulate group during the referendum.

“I encourage as many young people as possible to stand and to get involved in the upcoming SYP elections.

“I wish everyone involved the very best of luck.”


Patrick Harvie MSP, Co-Convenor of the Scottish Greens said:

“The Scottish Youth Parliament plays an important role in ensuring the voice of Scottish youth is heard and it is great to see so many people already getting involved. It is essential that young people are encouraged to participate in politics and are motivated to care about the way the country is run. Voting for candidates in the upcoming Scottish Youth Parliament election is a good first step in participating in this process. Congratulations to those who are standing and I wish all candidates the best of luck.”


Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats Willie Rennie MSP said:

“I wish all of the candidates the best of luck in their campaign. 2014 was the year young people proved naysayers that they could carry themselves with dignity and maturity in public debate. I hope that 2015 sees the continued participation of young people in politics continue on such a huge scale. The Scottish Youth Parliament elections is a fantastic opportunity for young people to put their mark on society. I hope that young people vote use their responsibility to vote in these elections to demonstrate why it should be a right in every election.”


Vice Chair Update February 2015 @3TERRISMITH

February 26th, 2015

TerriSmith UNCRC

Happy February everyone!

SYP is now busier than ever, and as usual, nothing’s changed TV wise for me – I’m still pretty bored, and I just wish EastEnders would stop dragging out their storylines. Believe it or not, I’ve just turned 20 and not 60 (I know that’s hard to believe). So far this month, we’ve had Valentine’s Day and Pancake Day! I’ve just about finished opening all the Valentine’s Day cards and gifts I received. Only joking; I think Royal Mail must have lost them.

#SYPElex is nearly in full swing, with less than one week until voting opens across Scotland. I just want to take this opportunity to wish current MSYPs and all candidates throughout the country the very best of luck. Enjoy your time campaigning, relish the experience, and remember, if you don’t get elected, don’t give up. As my wee auld Nana would say, “What’s for you won’t go by you.”


What has your Vice Chair been up to?

February has been as busy as every other month. At the start of the month, I had the privilege of speaking at the media launch of Anne McTaggart MSP’s proposed Organ and Tissue Donation (Scotland) Bill, which took place in the Scottish Parliament. At the event, I spoke with young people who had received or were waiting to receive an organ. Their stories were remarkable, and that is why I felt so honoured to speak on behalf of Scotland’s young people at the event.

I also attended another Board meeting. Our next meeting is scheduled for Friday 6th March 2015, so if you have any questions or queries in advance of this, please get in touch. Also this month, I attended and chaired the Campaign for Scottish Home Rule event in Stirling, which was facilitated by MSYPs. This was another unique experience for young people to voice their opinions on important matters. Finally, just over one week ago, I travelled to Belfast with five other MSYPs to take part in the Participation of the Isles Conference. Once again, this was a fantastic experience where young people from all over the U.K. and Ireland came together to discuss our differences and similarities. The trip involved a black cab tour of the city, during which we visited all the murals and peace walls built during the Troubles in Northern Ireland. It was a truly fascinating experience, and one I’ll never forget. You can hear what MSYPs had to say about the conference further into my update.

I’ve been involved in much more SYP elections activity in my local area and I’m really looking forward to the Edinburgh hustings this week. Aside from this, I visited the City Chambers, home to the Edinburgh City Councillors, to discuss our new POVERTY: See It Change It campaign. The councillors showed unanimous support for the campaign, and I will be working alongside the full council to gain cross party support for a council motion to be passed. Also, I was really pleased to be informed that after a year of lobbying the City of Edinburgh Council on Care.Fair.Share., they have passed a motion to further investigate introducing concessionary travel for young carers. This is particularly pleasing, as it looks like young carers will receive reduced travel from transport Lothian from April 2016. I’m extremely proud to have made this significant progress locally.


Terri’s Corner

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill. 


Thanks for all your submissions! Once again, I think I laughed way more than I should have, but you all have great banter.

Best Board Joke
Rachael McCully MSYP – How does NASA plan their company parties? They planet.

Best MSYP Jokes

Rhianne Carroll MSYP – My mate has a heart of a lion and a lifetime ban from Edinburgh Zoo.

Nancy Russell MSYP – What did Jay-Z call his wife before they got married? Feyoncè.

Best Procedures Group Joke

Jordan Linden MSYP – What did the green grape say to the purple grape? Oh my god, breathe!

Best Conveners Group Joke

Thomas McEachan MSYP – What do you call a laughing jar of mayonnaise? LMAYO



Once again, I’m continually impressed with all your great work. My main shoutouts this month go to:

The North Lanarkshire MSYPs – I would like to congratulate all eight North Lanarkshire MSYPs who are being presented with the Lord Provost badges this month in recognition of their hard work over the last two years.

Joshua McCormick MSYP – I would like to congratulate and wish Josh the best of luck as he is a finalist in the North Ayrshire Civic Pride Awards in the category of Young Citizen of the Year.

Louise Cameron MSYP – I would like to thank Louise for her hard work as the UKYP’s Procedures Group representative for Scotland, and I also wish all the best to Martyna Napiereska MSYP, who has taken over the role this month.

Jordan Linden MSYP – Finally, I would like to congratulate Jordan on his appointment as Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament’s Procedures Group.


Mini Staff Interview  

The staff interview this month is with Gareth Brown, which now means we’ve heard from everyone on the Public Affairs Team. Therefore, I just want to thank everyone for their efforts and contributions – you’ve all been fab. For anyone that doesn’t know, Gareth is SYP’s Public Affairs Coordinator and he has been working at SYP since August 2013.

1.) What does your job as the Public Affairs Coordinator at SYP involve?
The beauty about my role at SYP is that it involves lots of different things. On a higher level, I am responsible for managing the Public Affairs Team, and overseeing our work which includes campaigns, communications and policy. In addition, I also have specific responsibility for Policy and Research. This includes supporting the Members’ Motions mechanism and the development of SYP policy, working with the Conveners Group to develop consultation responses and written evidence, and keeping on top of policy developments from both the UK and Scottish Governments and Parliaments to try and identify opportunities for SYP to influence these developments.

In reality, we all work very closely together in the Public Affairs Team on the majority work, which is fantastic as it incorporates all our strengths and insights.

2.) What is the best thing about working for SYP?
I’m a very ambitious person, and ultimately I thrive on and enjoy success. I love working for an organisation as successful as SYP. It makes every piece of work and every day exciting as we are constantly exploring ways to raise the bar again and again. The credibility of SYP with key decision makers comes from the work of MSYPs, and I really enjoy seeing when the hard work of MSYPs pays off through campaign successes or successful media interviews.

3.) What is your favourite musical?
This one is easy! Without a doubt, it has to be Phantom of the Opera. It is a beautifully written piece of music. I can’t describe the feeling I get when I see it, or listen to the music. Totally overwhelming. It’s now in it’s 27th consecutive year on the West End in London, so it must be doing something right!

4.) If you could invite any three people in the world to dinner, who would they be and why?
Ok, so this one is harder. So many amazing historical, fictional and sporting figures to choose from.

I think one would certainly be Sherlock Holmes. I absolutely love everything about Sherlock Holmes: the books, the short stories, the films, the series. Everything. I guess there is something cool about a hero who uses his supreme intellect to save the day! Also, the new BBC series with Benedict Cumberbatch is outstanding! A secret dream of mine is to record an Audiobook of the Sherlock Holmes stories. Maybe some day.

I think another would have to be Alan Turing. Alan Turing was a mathematician who was responsible for designing the machine that broke the Nazi “Enigma code” during World War II. For those of you who enjoy your World War history, this was a defining moment in war that would shift the momentum to the Allies. He also invented what we now know as the modern “computer”. He was charged and convicted for being gay, which was a criminal offense back then, and subsequently committed suicide because of the severe chemical adjustment medication he was forced to take as his penalty.

Finally, I think it would have to be Placido Domingo. Domingo was one of the “Three Tenors” along with Jose Carreras and Luciano Pavarotti. In my mind, he is the greatest operatic singer to have ever lived. Combined with this, he is a wonderful actor. It’s rare that someone is outstanding in both disciplines. At the age of 74, he is still performing in operas around the world, and still attends Real Madrid games. He is an inspiration for any musician.


Final thoughts 

I asked the MSYPs who attended the conference in Belfast what they thought of the experience and wanted to share it all with you:

Thomas Mair MSYP – “Once again, the Scottish Youth Parliament has been involved in another unique and truly multicultural experience. SYP has proven that our youth participation level is second to none – I am extremely proud to be an MSYP.”

Martyna Napiereska MSYP – “I believe this conference has transformed my idea of Northern Ireland and our communication. Without a doubt, I would do it again and I hope one day Scotland can host its own Participation of the Isles Conference.”

Nicole Dempster MSYP – “This weekend, I have had an amazing time meeting young people from across the five nations. It has been so interesting to find out all about the political system in Northern Ireland and enhance my understanding of the Troubles.”

Eilidh Collins MSYP – “This weekend has been incredible for engaging with young people from all over the U.K. and Ireland. I have learned so much, and I am enthused to work towards more cohesion between the five nations.”

The Procedures Group is running a consultation on Subject Committees and you can take part here

Also, don’t forget, SYP launched its survey on child and youth poverty in Scotland, which aims to collate research on what young people think about poverty. Please make sure you take part and encourage other young people to share their views.

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

Again, I wish all #SYPElex candidates the best of luck! Don’t forget to follow the action on Twitter using the hashtag. Enjoy the rest of the month, and I’m sure the postman will bring those forgotten Valentine’s Day cards soon, ha! In the meantime, any questions, queries, or of course banter, get in touch!


Terri Smith MSYP
Vice Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament

Lowering the voting age can only be positive – Terri Smith MSYP, Vice Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament

February 23rd, 2015

Lowering the voting age can only be positive

In response to the concerns recently expressed from the House of Lords Constitution Committee about lowering the voting age, Terri Smith MSYP, Vice Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament said:

“Young people have truly shaped a defining moment in history throughout the last year, and the entire world has been watching and waiting to see if the decision to lower the voting age for the Scottish independence referendum would be a success, and indeed it has been.

“I note that on Monday 23rd February 2015, it was reported that the House of Lords Constitution Committee has expressed concerns about devolving the electoral franchise to Scotland and its impact in the rest of the UK. One of the concerns is that a lowered voting age in Scotland may lead to pressure for similar changes in the other devolved territories.

“While the Scottish Youth Parliament respects that any decision to lower the voting age must be properly considered by each devolved territory, we believe that voting at 16 is a right that should be afforded to all young people.

“As a nation, we should be encouraging our young people to have their say and shape their own futures. We should be focusing on engaging young people in politics, 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 I hope the rest of the country can see that too. 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.”

Are we facing a Social Care Crisis? David Stewart MSYP

February 13th, 2015


David Stewart MSYP

I am concerned that we may be on the cusp of a social care crisis. I hear growing concerns within the sector about policies that are soon going to be put in place, which risk compromising the services social care organisations can provide.

With inflation increasing the cost of providing services, local authorities face even more financial constraints and are having to make significant efficiency savings. In many cases, councils prioritise protecting intensive social care provisions. However, community-based, early intervention and preventative service provision are often likely to suffer from cost saving plans. Through the local work I undertake, I know that many organisations in Glasgow are challenged by these cuts.  Some of Glasgow’s most vulnerable residents are supported by these organisations.

Austerity cuts facing local authorities in Scotland isn’t a new problem, but recent experiences as a Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament have inspired me to raise awareness of the impact these cuts may have in local communities.

Following the launch of the Scottish Youth Parliament’s national campaign, POVERTY: See It Change It, I had the opportunity to visit Action for Children in Glasgow to hear about their extensive services across Scotland. Action for Children support the most vulnerable and neglected children and young people throughout the UK. I fear that in the climate of austerity, the invaluable services provided by organisations, such as Action for Children, face the risk of becoming compromised and potentially unsustainable.

Action for Children, like many other social care organisations that provide housing support, rely on housing benefits to finance the supported accommodation they make available. Potential changes to welfare policy causes further matters of concern with regards to the ability of these organisations to sustain the levels of support they currently offer.

At a time where research shows that one in five of our children and young people in Scotland live in poverty, we simply cannot risk compromising the services social care organisations are able to provide. As a society, it is time that we recognise how invaluable these organisations are, and make it our priority to work together to call on decision makers to protect the services they provide to our communities.

I’d like to encourage everyone to use their voice to raise awareness of the importance of protecting these organisations. You can visit to find out more about SYP’s campaign to combat child and youth poverty, and see how you can get involved.







David Stewart MSYP

My week at the Scottish Youth Parliament – Jessica, Work Experience Pupil from East Renfrewshire

February 12th, 2015


On Monday 19th January 2015, I started a week of work experience with the Scottish Youth Parliament. I took on a variety of different tasks with each of the different teams in the office. The teams include the Public Affairs Team, Youth Engagement Team, and the Projects Team. My experiences ranged from taking on various tasks on the computer, visiting the Scottish Parliament, and attending an event held by the Smith Commission about the proposed powers to be devolved to Scotland.

On Monday, I met everyone in the office and I learned more about the work of SYP and its aims and objectives. Later that day, I got to go on a tour of the Scottish Parliament. The tour was really good and allowed me to learn about things I would never have thought about. On Tuesday, I travelled to Perth with two members of the Youth Engagement Team, Calum and Rhiannon, to take part in delivering a We-CTV session to a group of young people in a Youth Centre. On Wednesday, I helped prepare for SYP’s national campaign launch, which was taking place that Friday. I prepared all of the name badges for everyone on the guest list. On Thursday, I attended the First Minister’s Questions in the Scottish Parliament. I attended FMQs with Claire, who is SYP’s Projects Officer. It was really interesting and funny at some parts as some of the MSPs started to get angry at each other. After lunch, I went over to Dynamic Earth with Terri Smith MSYP, Vice Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament, and Nairn McDonald MSYP, Trustee representing the Conveners Group, to attend an event held by the Smith Commission. As a result of Scotland voting no to independence, the Smith Commission is leading on developing and implementing proposals to devolve more powers to Scotland. Prime Minister David Cameron was at the event. That was probably the closest I ever will be to a celebrity. On Friday, the last day of my work experience, SYP launched its new campaign, which aims to tackle child poverty. A lot of MSPs, MSYPs, people from the media, and lots of other important people were there. It was a really good morning and I got to talk to Ken Mackintosh MSP, who is East Renfrewshire’s MSP.

My week at the Scottish Youth Parliament was really interesting and I enjoyed it a lot. I met a lot of really nice people, which made my week better. I learned a lot about working life and how tiring it can be. I learned lots about the SYP, the work it does, and what its aims are as an organisation.


Jessica, Work Experience Pupil from East Renfrewshire

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

February 4th, 2015

Dear MSP,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Louise Cameron





Louise Cameron MSYP
Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament

Vice Chair Update January 2015 @3terrismith

January 28th, 2015

TerriSmith UNCRC

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

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

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


What has your Vice Chair been up to?

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

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


Terri’s Corner

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


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

Best MSYP joke 

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

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

Best Procedures Group joke

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

Best Board joke 

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


Mini Staff Interview  

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

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

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

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

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

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


Final thoughts 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

@NairnMcD’s Speech for the POVERTY: See it Change it campaign launch

January 23rd, 2015

POVERTY: See it Change it campaign launch

Nairn McDonald MSYP

Article 6 of the United Nation’s Convention of the Rights of the Child states that children and young people have the right to be alive, survive and to develop through life.

Article 24 states that children and young people have the right to be healthy, and to live in a safe, healthy environment.

Article 26 states that children and young people are entitled to support from the Government if they live in deprivation.

Article 27 states that you have the right to a safe place to live, food and clothing and to take part in things you in enjoy.


My name is Nairn McDonald. I am the Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament for Cunninghame South. I also sit on the Board of the Scottish Youth Parliament to represent our Conveners Group, the group of young people that plan and oversee our campaigns. I also pitched this campaign to our membership at our October Sitting.

The articles of the UNCRC which I read out at the beginning are the rights of children and young people. Rights, as we know, are something that all young people are entitled to, they should be cherished and protected.

By thinking of child and youth poverty in this way, it becomes much more apparent that one in five children in Scotland living below an adequate standard is something we cannot be willing to accept. We must do more! Children and young people have inalienable rights that must be protected.

This rights based perspective is the context in which the Scottish Youth Parliament’s POVERTY: See it Change it campaign will raise awareness of, and challenge the stigma associated with, child and youth poverty.


I must admit, I was nervous when I was preparing to address the Membership of the Scottish Youth Parliament with proposals for a campaign to help combat child and youth poverty. Poverty is a difficult subject for many people often due to personal experiences, or the negative stigma, which unfortunately is often associated with the word.

For me, I grew up surrounded by poverty, and I have seen the devastating impact it can have on a young person’s future and their quality of life. Poverty can often undermine the health, wellbeing, and the educational opportunities of children and young people.

When pitching the proposals for SYP’s new campaign, I wanted to share my personal experiences having grown up surrounded by poverty. I wanted my fellow MSYPs to understand the passion I have for this campaign, and to understand why there is a drastic need for change, given the devastating impact poverty can have.


Poverty is an enigma. It hides itself behind forced smiles and cracking facades. Poverty can affect anyone, at any time, and that is what we must make people recognise.

There is an image of poverty that is portrayed and largely stereotyped by television and other media sources. These stereotypes attempt to define poverty as an issue that only exists in certain areas and only affects certain people. These stereotypes are often fed my irresponsible reporting and misinformation. We must challenge this!

The truth is that poverty can affect anyone, at any time. There are many people who society may not recognise as being affected by poverty, but these people are struggling to keep a roof over their head and food on their table. We need to challenge this stigma and misinformation.


In 1999, the UK Government made the commitment to tackle child poverty in the nation by 2020. The UK Child Poverty Act 2010 made this commitment into law. Many of the organisations represented here today have been working tirelessly for many years on this issue, and we must acknowledge their work and progress they have made.

As 2020 is now only five years away, I believe it is time that we recognise the reality of child and youth poverty in Scotland, and make it our priority to work together to change it. I hope that our contribution through this campaign can change the way young people in Scotland view poverty and those who are living in poverty.


At the Scottish Youth Parliament, we have had a number of recent campaign successes including Love Equally, Votes at 16 and Care.Fair.Share. Our strength comes from every single Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament going out and engaging with young people in their area and effectively using social media. With every MSYP passionately campaigning, we can reach thousands of young people through this campaign. This is a massive opportunity. We must grasp it, and we will!

The “POVERTY: See it Change it” campaign will have three main themes.

Firstly, “See it.” We want Scotland’s young people to have a more complete understanding of the reality of child and youth poverty and the right of children and young people to live free from poverty.

Secondly, “Change it.” Our MSYPs will go out and have peer to peer discussions through our bespoke thought provoking youth engagement sessions which will encourage young people to think about the negative stigmas associated with poverty in comparison to the reality, and challenge those stigmas.

And finally “Keep it.”, our MSYPs will engage with local and national decision makers to urge them to keep their commitment to end child and youth poverty by 2020.

We also hope to celebrate and promote the role many fantastic organisations and projects, many of whom are here today, play in tackling poverty across Scotland. I would like to thank all of our partners, who have not only supported the campaign but who have also shared their wealth of knowledge and experience with us. We wouldn’t be able to do this without your support, and we look forward to working with you during the course of the campaign.


As Louise mentioned, our Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament voted overwhelmingly to campaign on this issue because that is what their constituents were telling them to do. This is a major priority for the young people of Scotland, they want to see change!

As the democratically elected voice of Scotland’s young people, we must be drivers of that change.

We can’t do it alone! We need as many people as possible to get involved and get behind the campaign. I would really urge you to engage with us online, work with our MSYPs locally, urge your elected representatives to do more.


Remember, if you don’t already, follow us on twitter and instagram using @OfficialSYP and follow the progress of the campaign using #seeitchangeit.


When thinking about today, and the importance of it for us as an organisation, words from the late Robin Williams sprung to mind. He said, “No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.”


Let the campaign begin!

Thank you.

@weezeontoast’s Speech for the POVERTY: See it Change it campaign launch

January 23rd, 2015

POVERTY: See it Change it campaign launch

Louise Cameron MSYP

One in five children in Scotland lives in poverty. We are one of the most prosperous nations in the world and we allow one in five of our children, which is much higher than many other European countries, to live in poverty.

Today, we are all here because we all agree that this not acceptable. It has to change.

I would like to start by welcoming you all here to the Fuse Youth Cafe in Shettleston. Fuse Youth Café is a charity that works to provide a variety of services to young people in the area. The area has a high level of deprivation and the young people face many risks and challenges associated with areas of high deprivation. Fuse offers a safe place for young people with a café area, gig space and internet café.

The activities and resources they make available are always evolving to meet the needs and requests of young people. The building of positive relationships between Fuse members and youth workers is pivotal to successfully developing the confidence, social and employability skills of the young people that use this service.

The national focus for young people in Scotland is on developing services to enable young people to become confident individuals, successful learners, effective contributors and responsible citizens. These four capacities are fully supported by Fuse’s mission and strategic objectives with their focus on early intervention and underpin our approach to youth work.

The Scottish Youth Parliament is delighted to be able to launch our campaign in this fantastic youth work service. Like Fuse, we share the ambition for young people in Scotland to be provided with the opportunities to use their passion, talent and determination to build a prosperous future for themselves. Thank you to Fuse for having us today.


Before I talk a little more about the campaign and SYP, I would like to share a personal story with you. I think it outlines why this campaign is important to me.

The Glasgow Children’s Holiday Scheme is a project that I was brought up with when I was younger. It involved giving a child or young person who lived in poverty, in the very city we are in now, a holiday for a week in a home in a different part of Scotland.

The project aimed to give these young people a different life for a week. It gave them a break, and a positive experience. It gave them proper meals. It gave them a different outlook on life rather than the scenes they were used to seeing every day.

The only problem with was, it was only for a week before they go back to the life they had before. These children and young people deserve more than a week of a better life, they deserve a brighter future, a safe environment and a basic, sustainable, standard of living.


From engaging with this project, I learned about the importance of hope. I also learned that many children and young people have to be tough and endure some very difficult times.

The young people who stayed with us often had to do things like the shopping, picking up prescriptions for parents, getting themselves ready for school and cooking their own food, things that many of us are fortunate enough to not have to do as young people.

Life for many young people living in deprivation is very different from the life many of the rest of us know. It isn’t just a life deprived of a basic of standard of living, it’s a life deprived of hope and a feeling that they can create a better life for themselves.

This is no way to grow up, and if we want Scotland to be the best place in the world to grow up, a vision that all of us here today share, then this has to stop.


The Scottish Youth Parliament is the democratically elected voice of Scotland’s young people. Our MSYPs chose this campaign because that is what our constituents have been telling us that we need to do.

The young people of Scotland are demanding that we do better, that we be more ambitious, that we strive for more progress. I couldn’t think of a more important priority and a more important campaign for the Scottish Youth Parliament to focus on.

I am also delighted to welcome MSPs and MPs from across the political spectrum here today. I think we are all in agreement that this issue transcends party politics. It is an issue that goes to the core of who we are as a nation, and who we want to be going forward. My challenge to you today is to join us and do more. Speak to your colleagues in Parliament in Edinburgh and London, push them to do more. Work with our MSYPs in your local areas. Together, let’s do more.

I am also pleased to welcome colleagues from many partner organisations across the sector who have been working on this issue for many years, and will continue to do so. At the Scottish Youth Parliament, we place significant value on partnership working, and we are delighted to have you on board.

The hashtag for today’s launch event is #seeitchangeit! I would really urge you to engage with us online throughout the course of this morning.