Posts Tagged ‘SYP; Chair’s Blog; Grant Costello’

Grant Costello – Chair’s Blog – It’s Nearly #SYPElex time!

Friday, February 1st, 2013

Grant CostelloAs January fades away it’s time to look ahead to what 2013 will hold for SYP.

The winter metaphor feels appropriate, because for myself, as well as several of our most experienced MSYPS, we are approaching the end of our time in the Scottish Youth Parliament.  After the sitting a new generation of MSYPs will be elected, and I hope they will be even more successful than our membership – although the bar has been set very high!

So for me, as well as many other MSYPs, our March sitting will be a little bittersweet.  Being at the Scottish Parliament is a big deal, and there’s a great agenda planned.  But at the same time this will be the last full sitting for so many of our members.

However, whilst for some of us it may be the finish, for many others the end of the sitting will be the start of the journey.  As soon as the dust settles at the Scottish Parliament we will be launching the final phase of this year’s SYP elections.  As you will have already heard, the Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, will be launching the elections themselves – which will kick off a frantic two week campaign.

All of you will be aware how successful the last set of SYP elections were – with nearly 85,000 votes cast it we’ve set ourselves a pretty tough target.  I’m very excited young people from Berwick to Stornoway will have the opportunity to vote for their MSYPs – it’s exactly what SYP is about.

The next month is going to be a crucial one for all the candidates.  With the registration process complete it’s time for all candidates to explain why they are the best person for their area.  You’ll be able to read every manifesto on the website later on this month – and we’ll be using the hashtag #sypelex over the next six weeks for all our news.

At the end of the sitting we’ll formally launch the elections themselves – setting off a 12 day campaign for votes across the country, with the results happening across the country on the 14th and 15th of March

It should be epic – so get involved now.  Even, if like me, all you can do is encourage people locally to pay attention, and then to vote!

Chair’s Blog – September

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

I, like all MSYPs, are incredibly lucky.  As members of the Scottish Youth Parliament we have the ability to stand up for the issues which we really care about.  We can directly engage with elected politicians, with civic leaders, and even with the media to make our case.  It’s a great opportunity, and one I think every MSYP takes seriously.

But that ability to express our opinions has a serious responsibility.  It means we can’t just focus on issues which personally affect us, but instead we have a responsibility to stand up for the issues which matter to all young people.  That’s why I was so proud when MSYPs voted to campaign for the Living Wage in our June Sitting.

The facts are staggering.  Nearly two thirds of children in poverty come from working households.  A 17-year-old school leaver is expected to work for £3.68 an hour.  There’s been unprecedented growth in working families using food banks because they can’t afford dinner. 15% of adults are in poverty, as are over 200,000 children.  This is not a problem for the future, this is right now.

That’s the challenge One Fair Wage, our new campaign, wants to tackle.  We want to get employers to sign up to pay their workers at least the Scottish Living Wage, which is currently £7.20 (this will be reassessed in early November) an hour.  If every employer in Scotland signed up that would mean over half a million low-paid workers getting at least £2000 more per year and would make a very real step towards tackling poverty in Scotland.

Our campaign is designed to fulfil a specific gap in the wider campaign for the Scottish Living Wage.  There has been a lot of good lobbying work done by the Poverty Alliance and other groups to ensure the Scottish Government pays a Living Wage.  Real progress has been made, many Local Authorities are Scottish Living Wage employers as are some private businesses but much more needs to be done and that’s were One Fair Wage comes into play. Many Local Authorities have also done this – although there are a few left who need convinced.  There are also groups working on the very technical issues, such as procurement.  We are working with these groups, but the very nature of these issues doesn’t play to our great strength.

Our strength is of course that we have over a hundred passionate dedicated and articulate MSYPs who want to make a difference.  That’s why we are running to run a grassroots campaign – which allows MSYPs to engage in their communities and make the case for One Fair Wage. It’s through this grassroots campaigning, this local work by our MSYPs that we will achieve real change.

There’s been some great work done already.  Labour MSP Ann McTaggart has raised a motion at the Scottish Parliament, which is supported by MSPs from four of the five Holyrood parties.  Over 30 councillors from across Scotland have supported, and we even have our first businesses signed up.

I’d like specifically to congratulate Terri Miller and Jahura Hussain for their work on Edinburgh Council, Ross Greer for signing up three MSPs already, and John Gillies for our first businesses.  They are just the first, and you can follow all the news at the campaign site at

Please remember to tell us what you have planned, even if it’s just that you have sent an email to a local employer, we need to know to track national activity and support. To request your pledge board and to update us on your campaigning please email Kate on

However, this is nothing more than a good start.  To make a difference we need a lot more support.  Every company, charity, councilor or politician we sign up means more people are entitled to this wage – designed to allow a worker to achieve an acceptable standard of living.  Every extra employer means more workers who can afford what they need to live.  That’s something worth campaigning for.

Last year, Scotland’s young people argued for marriage equality – now we demand economic equality. It’s time we stood up for all those who aren’t able to do so themselves.  It’s time for every MSYP to start calling up businesses, writing to employers, and making One Fair Wage a reality for Scotland.


Chairs Blog – August

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Don’t you love the summer holidays.  Weeks go by with nothing to do, everyone goes on holiday – it’s all great.

Well, that might be some people’s idea of a holiday but it’s certainly not how things have been for SYP since the Sitting.  We’ve had MSYPs out across Scotland at events, the campaigns team have been working with the Conveners Group to put together our new campaign –which is all going to be incredibly exciting.  We’ve got We-CTV starting again in September, and at the end of the month the SYP Elections Commission will be releasing their report.  So it’s all go.

However, I’m sure most MSYPs will agree with me the most important developments have been over Votes at 16.  As you will know, Votes at 16 is a core belief of the Scottish Youth Parliament.  As an organisation who believe young people deserve to be heard, it is central to all our campaigning for 16 and 17-year-olds, who can work, marry, and join the army, to also be allowed to choose the politicians in charge of these areas.  We don’t really think the opposing arguments are credible.

To help make this happen, SYP have been working with NUS Scotland to try and encourage both the Scottish and UK Governments to work together to make votes at 16 happen for the referendum on Scotland’s constitutional future.

The key activity has been Robin Parker, NUS Scotland President, and myself sending a letter to Michael Moore MP, Secretary of State for Scotland, and Bruce Crawford, Cabinet Secretary for Parliamentary Business and Government Strategy, asking them to work together to make this a reality.  With this in mind we are very encouraged to hear the UK Government may be prepared to consider allowing this measure (insert link).  Furthermore we have heard from the Scottish Government they are keen to meet with us to have our input into the next stage.  So it seems Scotland’s leaders are at least listening to us on this issue.

But it’s crucial we keep involved.  Sadly Ross Greer MSYPs epetition has now expired; so what we have done is set up a brand new petition calling for votes at 16, both for the referendum but also for all future elections as well – you can sign the petition at .  As for the rest of the campaign – I’ll keep you posted on all the developments – you can read all our news releases on the blog!

Next Sitting

Believe it or not we are only seven weeks away from our next sitting.  North Lanarkshire Council are kindly hosting us on the 27th and 28th October – it should be epic.  As always though, what makes the sitting is not the organisation or the location, but what we as MSYPs put into it.  Therefore if anyone has a Member’s Motion they would like to have debated at the Sitting could they get in touch with Kate ( by Friday 7th September by 5pm. If you would like more information then please click here:

Children and Young People’s Bill

The Scottish Government are considering whether they should combine all the rights, duties and guidance affecting young people in Scotland into one law – the Children and Young People Bill. It’s vital that young people’s views are listened to when shaping this so please give us 10 minutes of your time to take part in this quick survey and we’ll make sure the Government listen!. You’ll be entered into a prize draw for a £50 Amazon voucher – what are you waiting for?!?

A Scotland for Children: a consultation on the Children & Young People…

Chairs Blog – May

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Hi all,

I hope everyone is surviving the exam season – and best of luck to all.  It’s been another busy month (when is it not) with meetings, events, and planning for the next sitting all happening.

The Young Start Big Lottery Fund Group met again on for a fascinating meeting.  They have an £9.3 million budget for youth councils, groups and projects and they are also looking to work with local authorities to find the best groups who can make a difference to their communities.

I met with Angela Constance MSP, Minister for Youth Employment, on the 22nd of May whilst we were both attending the South Lanarkshire Youth Employment Forum, also attended by William Inglis MSYP and Lynsey Cuthbertson MSYP.  The Minister was keen for SYP to attend other Forums, and said she would ensure there were places for MSYPs at future events.

I have been invited to celebrate the Queens Diamond Jubilee Celebration at Glasgow Cathedral in June.  This is a great honour for the SYP, and I will be very proud to represent all MSYPs at the event.

On the 16th of May I attended an NUS Scotland conference up in Aberdeen, which along with being able to talk about SYP gave me the chance to speak with Robin Parker, NUS Scotland President.  What came out of the meeting was both our organisations need to work together to take positive steps to ensure young people can be involved in the Referendum.

On a similar vein Robin and myself wrote a joint letter to Alex Salmond and Michael Moore calling on the UK and Scottish Government’s to work together to make votes at 16 a reality.  Both the SNP and Liberal Democrats have been in favour of votes at 16 in the past, and I would hope this would provide an opportunity for both parties to follow through on their promises, and work together to clear away any obstacles to young people being able to have a full say over the future of Scotland. Regardless, I know the SYP will continue to campaign for votes at 16.

The We-CTV Awards Ceremony are happening on Thursday evening at Oran Mor in Glasgow.  The very best of luck to everyone involved, and indeed to the MSYPs who helped to facilitate many of the videos.  It should be a great event – I can’t wait.

Our Final Board meeting as current Trustees was held on the 30th of May.  I can’t believe it has come around so quickly.  Being SYP Chair has been an incredible experience.  I am honoured to have served you in this role, and it’s been a pleasure.

Can’t wait to see you at the sitting, Glasgow, SYP48.  Bring it on.


Chair’s Blog – April 2012

Friday, May 11th, 2012

Well, it’s never quiet for the SYP!  We have had loads on, from getting started on the Votes@16 campaign through to the We-CTV project and all the other great activities which  SYP are involved in.  I am especially excited by the news that our ‘Love Equally‘ campaign has been shortlisted as Campaign of the Year at this year’s Annual Scottish Charity Awards.  Andrew Deans and Kate Bouchier-Hayes will be attending the event to be held in the Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow on 14th June, fingers crossed they come back with an award.

Earlier this month I was delighted to be invited to the Scottish Parliament to attend a meeting of the European Youth Parliament.  They held a question-time style debate on topics including: Human Rights, Internet Piracy and, an issue close to all of us at SYP, equal marriage rights. I was joined on the panel by Kezia Dugdale MSP and Christina McKelvie MSP along with the Chief of the Scottish EU Office. There was a lively debate, excellent points raised and hopefully we are able to strengthen the relationship between ourselves in SYP and the European Youth Parliament.

One of the big challenges facing young people in general, is getting heard regularly by the media.  We have taken some steps to try and change this, including working on a new media strategy, and bringing the brilliant Scott Douglas, from Holyrood PR, to act as our external Media Advisor.  We have also expanded the staff team, bringing Ewan MacDonald on board as our new Parliamentary and Press Officer, and I know Ewan will bring great benefit to the SYP.  Welcome Ewan!

This month I was invited to chair a debate held by the Renfrewshire Youth Voice at Renfrewshire’s Council Chambers. It was an excellent debate that brought together young people from schools across Renfrewshire. The debate centered around two questions: Scottish Independence and Votes at 16, which were controversial topics that gave the chamber a lot to debate.  Thank you very much to RYV and especially Hua Cui, RYV’s Youth Worker, for inviting me along and allowing me to be part of your fantastic event.

As part of our move to create a strong working partnership with NUS, I met with some NUS representatives to discuss working partnerships and plans for joint work on the Votes@16 campaign. One of the key points learnt from the success of Love Equally was our coalition of partner organisations.  I hope we can do this same this time round with Votes@16 – and the extremely positive meetings I have had with NUS indicate that is very likely.

Some more good news to share, I’ve been invited to join the  Young Start Advisory group from the Big Lottery Fund.  Young Start aims to create opportunities for children and young people aged between 8 and 24 to help realise their potential, more information can be found here.  Our first meeting is later this month and I can’t wait to get involved.   This invitation shows how much SYP as an organisation has grown over the past year.  I have been so proud to have been a part of that.  Being involved with the Big Lottery Fund is proof once more of the great partnership work being taken forward by SYP.

It’s also that time of year when We-CTV comes around. From what I have heard it’s been a raving success so far! All the feedback I have received from MSYPs, staff and young people tells me that we have outdone ourselves this year, and I believe it is down to the amazing staff team we have in place here at SYP. I am looking forward to attending the Awards Night on 31st May, where I understand we have confirmed attendance by the Cabinet Secretary for Justice Kenny MacAskill MSP.  Remember by going on to the SYP website you too can vote for your favourite videos.

And last but not least, the June Sitting. I know the date is fast approaching and I can tell you the staff are working 24/7 to make this Sitting happen. Wirth the local government elections it’s been very hard to secure a host and looks like SYP will need to fund the June Sitting from our core budget.  The staff are working on this and hope to have information out to all of us ASAP, so keep an eye on Facebook and your emails

See you all soon



Chair’s Blog – January

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

By Grant Costello MSYP, SYP Chair

It’s been a busy New Year for the SYP but we of course would have it no other way! The news has been quoting us, the calls have been coming in left, right and centre and best of all our campaign is starting to get the continued attention that it has long deserved. As many of you will be aware the staff team and I have been working night and day to try and ensure that our “Love Equally” message is getting spread far and wide across Scotland and with our campaigning partners (LGBT Youth Scotland, NUS Scotland’s LGBT Campaign, Stonewall Scotland and the Equality Network). I am so pleased to say that this message is spreading and this will be so important come the day, February 14th when we all march down the Royal Mile in support of equal marriage and the right of people who are in love to be treated and respected in the same way. I cannot wait to see every single one of you there!

But the media hasn’t been my only focus for our campaign. I have been trying to work with young people, Scottish Government Ministers and civil servants, our partner organisations and MSPs in general. I have been busy attending LGBT Youth Scotland’s consultation event in Edinburgh, a fantastic event where I got the chance to have a strong and in-depth conversion with the civil servant heading up the review of this Scottish Government’s Same Sex Marriage Consultation. I’ve also been meeting with MSPs such as the Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Willie Rennie MSP, the SNP’s Linda Fabiani MSP, Fiona McLeod MSP and the Minister for Children and Young People Aileen Campbell MSP and the former Leader of the Scottish Conservative Party Annabel Goldie, to ensure that the support for this important campaign remains strong and high on the agenda. I have meet with Tom French from the Equality Network numerous times and took part in a press conference held live from the SYP’s own offices further promoting our campaign.

I have attended many different Parliamentary groups and events such as an consultation event held by Jackie Baillie MSP on the Welfare Reform Bill going through Westminster and an important meeting of the Children and Young People’s Cross Party Group on the same topic. Many of these events have been important networking events that will hopefully prove important to the SYP in the every near future as we continue to grow and grow faster than we could even have expected.

In recent months we have had Andrew Deans MSYP, Austin Sheridan MSYP as well as myself and many others, all in numerous newspapers or internet articles, illustrating to all the doubters out there of the passion and ability of all MSYPs in the SYP. But to ensure this continues this restructuring will be essential. Recently I brought onto the SYP Board as an unpaid advisor Scott Douglas, someone who has been in the centre of the media and PR for 25 years. He will become invaluable as together as an organisation we evolve into an even more power voice for the young people of Scotland.

Another important announcement comes as our Sitting nears very close, with the sitting review all done and dusted it was very clear that Members Motions were a massive hit but we just didn’t have the time to get through all the excellent Motions that we had. Therefore I can announce that at the March Sitting we will have an increased time limit on the Members Motions. This is a vitally important part of our sittings as it allows us as the membership of the SYP to bring forward the many concerns of our constituents and make solutions to these problems SYP core policy.

As you will all know the SYP had our official office opening and it was a massive success with so many important members of civic Scotland joining us at our offices and the newly appointed Minister for Children and Young people in attendance to open our offices was a real honour. But the biggest congratulations must go out to all the pass, present and future MSYPs of this organisation. Without young people so passionate like we MSYPs the SYP would not exists. This celebration was the opening of a new chapter for the Scottish Youth Parliament, but also a landmark of celebration for the passion and effort put in by all MSYPs in the decade that we have existed.

With the Scottish Government’s intention to give 16 and 17 year olds the vote in the referendum I have been extremely busy working with all of our partner organisations, the staff and of course the media to ensure that the Scottish Youth Parliament’s position is very clear. This has been very difficult but the rewards of our efforts are being seen with the media attention our support for votes at 16 for the referendum and all future elections has been drawing up. We need to be very clear to every that we at the SYP believe in votes at 16 and we want to see the young people of Scotland not just have their say in a one-off referendum but in all future elections and referendums.

I have also been working a lot closer with Amnesty International Scotland to develop an important relationship. Their help with getting out our “Love Equally” message has been very helpful and I can promise every member of the SYP that for as long as I am your chair that I will continue to work tirelessly to continue to develop strong and long lasting networks for the SYP and future generations of MSYPs to use and evolve our organisation.