Posts Tagged ‘syp’

70,000 votes cast in Scottish Youth Parliament National Elections

Tuesday, 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.”

The future of Scotland: the journey is only beginning

Friday, September 19th, 2014

The future of Scotland: the journey is only beginning

Youth Parliament Chair says the journey to deciding Scotland’s future begins now

Yesterday, we witnessed one the greatest acts of self-determination in history where our country went to the ballot box to decide the course of its own future.

There will be much analysis and discussion about the result, a lot of celebration, and a lot of disappointment. I don’t think anyone could say that this debate lacked passion. Instead of focusing on the outcome, and what has been achieved, I want to focus more on the process.

However, I think we need to cast our minds back to October 2012 to fully appreciate what has been achieved from the process. The Scottish Youth Parliament, along with other organisations successfully campaigned for 16 and 17 year olds to be able to vote for the first time in recent history. This presented both a huge opportunity, and a huge challenge.

It’s no secret that young people aged 18-24 have always been lowest age demographic to turn out to vote. This has always led©DN Anderson to all sorts of unsubstantiated remarks such as “young people just don’t care about politics.” From our work at the Scottish Youth Parliament, which primarily focuses on engaging young people in politics on the basis of issues rather than political parties, we knew that wasn’t true. Yet it was always quite tricky to disprove, until October 2012.

For the last two years, Scotland has been on the most amazing journey of political engagement and civic participation. There has the usual confrontational party political element as always, but I guess that is to be expected; both sides are trying to win a debate. However, what has been more prevalent and more important is how the people of Scotland, and civic society, have engaged in this debate which fundamentally has set our future course for generations to come. Many people who have never voted in their lives, or were once voters and have since become disillusioned, have become engaged or re-engaged over the last number of months. What is more impressive still is that the debate has turned into one of not just constitution, but of national identity, civic pride and self-determination.

As a young person, I have been absolutely astounded at the amount of effort that has gone in from schools, colleges and universities, youth groups and other civic and voluntary organisations, and the campaigns, to try and remove barriers to participation in this debate and actively engage young people, particularly those young people who face more challenging circumstances. I am proud that the Scottish Youth Parliament led the way in developing innovative ideas and methods to engage thousands of young people, in an impartial manner, pointing them to sources of information to help them make an informed decision for themselves.

The process and the level of participation, combined with extraordinary efforts to engage young people, is the real achievement from this referendum.

The task now is to build on this achievement. All of us, political parties, schools, colleges and universities, youth clubs, voluntary organisations etc have a responsibility to take the lessons, both positive and negative, and learn from them.

What have we learned? Well firstly, we know for certain that young people care about politics, certainly issue based politics. We know that young people want as much factual information as possible before they make their decision; they want to know how their vote will affect their everyday lives. This has been further supported by extensive social attitudes research undertaken by the University of Edinburgh. We know that young people appreciate politicians making a genuine and meaningful effort to speak to them directly to answer their questions. Finally, we know how valuable educational institutions, youth work facilities and other voluntary organisations throughout civic society can be in terms of starting the conversation with young people about politics, and why it’s important to vote. Surely this makes a compelling case for much more substantive, robust and consistent political and civic education as a key part of the curriculum.

In addition, this process has proved the case for extending the right to vote to 16 and 17 year olds. Young people have shown that when political parties and politicians, when given a little nudge by organisations such as the Scottish Youth Parliament, meaningfully engage with them, on their terms, in their environment, providing honest answers to honest questions, then young people will turn out and make an informed decision for themselves at the ballot box

We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to build on what has been achieved through this process, to harness all of the positive young voter engagement work that has taken place over the last two years to ensure Scotland’s young people have their voices heard. We all have a responsibility, so let’s work together and make it happen.

Vice Chair Update July 2014 – Terri Smith MSYP

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

Terri Smith MSYPHello fellow MSYPs, I’m excited to be sending out my very first Vice Chair update. I would just like to start off by saying a massive thank you for allowing me to stand and address you all in my candidacy speech, and of course for electing me as your Vice Chair- it’s going to be a fantastic year ahead.

Since SYP54 in Shetland, I’ve been gradually getting used to my new role and learning something new every day. On Tuesday 22nd and Wednesday 23rd July, your new Board Members met together for the very first time to take part in Board training. It was a fantastic two days of learning more about SYP and the roles of the wonderful staff team, as well as a fantastic opportunity to bond together as a group and discuss the key things we would like to achieve this year. As Trustees, we were all assigned with our portfolios for the year, which are as follows:

  • Louise Cameron MSYP, Chair – No specific portfolio – overall responsibility for organisation.
  • Terri Smith MSYP, Vice Chair – Responsible for UK & International work and joint responsibility for communications in addition to other duties.
  • David McLaughlin MSYP, Trustee – Lead Board Member for Public Affairs and the Procedures Group.
  • Rachael McCully MSYP, Trustee – Lead Board Member for Youth Engagement.
  • Sian Hughes MSYP, Trustee – Lead Board Member for Local Authorities & Voluntary Organisations.
  • David Stewart MSYP, Trustee – Lead Board Member for Projects.

While July has been a busy month, it has also been was used to recover from Shetland and settle into our new roles. I hope this time next month there will be even more exciting news around what I’ve been doing as Vice Chair.


Locally, I have started to collate the data from my local consultation on, “if you had one wish for the local area what would it be?” This was exciting as it allowed me to initiate discussion with so many young people about what matters to them the most. I also ran ten different engagement sessions locally and finally hit my personal target of registering over 100 young people to vote.

July was a fantastic month for me locally and young people were really at the forefront of the work I’ve been taking on. Therefore, I would like to take a moment to thank all of my constituents for their continued support.

Terri’s Corner

I’d like to introduce this section with my personal favourite inspirational quote – “Be the change you wish to see in the world” – Mahatma Gandhi.

Remember to laugh…

Thank you for all the jokes which have been submitted to me. There were some real ‘belters’, but I have chosen the ones that made me laugh the most. Thumbs up to the following MSYPs and I hope they make you laugh like me.

  • Mason Rowan MSYP – A man walks into a bar with a roll of tarmac under his arm. “Pint please”, he asks, “And one for the road.”
  • Chris Smith MSYP – “What do you call a dead parrot?” – Polygone
  • Grant Macleod MSYP – “Two TV aerials met on the roof and fell in love. The wedding was terrible, but the reception was great.”
  • Jordan Linden MSYP – “Why are seagulls called seagulls? Because if they landed on the bay, they’d be bagels?”


Once again, there has been some incredible work going on over the last month and I would like to give a quick mention to the following MSYPs for their efforts:

  • Louise Cameron MSYP –  not only was Louise elected as our Chair but she made the entire organisation feel incredibly proud when she sang at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games.
  • Jamie MacLeod MSYP and Martyna Napierskaa MSYP both attended the UKYP Sitting in Lancaster representing the young people of Scotland.
  • Nairn McDonald MSYP was successfully elected as the Conveners’ Representative on the Board.
  • Struan King MSYP and Robbie Nicoll MSYP presented a successful Members Motion on PSHE at SYP54.
  • Nicola Bruley MSYP presented a successful Members Motion on banning smoking in cars with children at SYP54.

Those are just some of the incredible things MSYPs have been up to over the last month.

Keep up the fantastic work

I would finally just like to say a massive well done to all the MSYPs who have volunteered at Glasgow 2014, well done to all the new Conveners and Deputy Conveners, Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament, and anyone who has volunteered their time and effort in the last month.

That’s all from me for the lovely month of July. I hope you all enjoy the rest of your summer holidays and as always, any questions, queries or comments, feel free to get in contact with me.

Terri Smith MSYP

Vice Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament


Care.Fair.Share. – Kirsty McCahill MSYP

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

Kirsty McCahill MSYPIn January 2014, the Scottish Youth Parliament launched the Care.Fair.Share. campaign – a campaign which aims to make life fairer for young carers. Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYPs) have been campaigning across the country to raise awareness of the campaign and make a difference to the lives of Scotland’s dedicated young people who sacrifice their own time to help the lives of others.

John Scott MSP supportIn my constituency, I have been campaigning alongside Kate Fleming MSYP and Mason Rowan MSYP. We collectively met with South Ayrshire’s Young Adult Carers to inform them of the campaign and find out more about their everyday lives. They highlighted some of the problems and struggles that they face day-to-day which gave us an understanding of just how hard the life of a young carer can be. This also allowed us to find out what personally affects young adult carers in our area and we can now work to improve these issues.

I sent out emails to our local MSPs seeking their support and requesting to meet with them to discuss the campaign further. I received in reply kind words of support from many and was able to arrange a meeting with John Scott MSP and Chic Brodie MSP. Kate, Mason, and I met with them and spoke of the aims of the campaign, along with the issues that were highlighted to us by South Ayrshire’s Young Adult Carers, and afterwards, they showed their support by signing the Care.Fair.Share pledgeboard.

As for the future, we plan to hold a Care.Fair.Share. event to promote the campaign and share our efforts andChic Brodie MSP Support 2 successes so far. We also hope to meet with the younger carers of South Ayrshire, once they begin to meet again after the summer, to talk about the campaign, find out about their everyday problems and discuss how we can make things better, easier, and fairer for them.

As the campaign states, care doesn’t have to mean compromise, and I’m incredibly proud that as an organisation, we are making this a reality. Young carers are an integral and valuable part of our society and we are doing all we can to make sure they do not suffer due to financial stress and government policy. It is unjust that these hardworking and selfless young people face such challenges simply because they devote their time to caring for others. It is also essential that pursuing further education and engaging in social activities is made more manageable for young carers as this is a fundamental part of a young person’s life. Everyone deserves an equal chance.

So it’s time for change. To make things better. To make things fairer. Together, we can make a difference.

-Kirsty McCahill MSYP 

Michael McNamara- My Experience as a Young Carer

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

Banner-Signed FinalI have been a young carer for around four years now and I enjoy the responsibilities which I take on. I look after my mother who has addiction issues. My day-to-day tasks can be extremely varied. I take on everyday chores such as checking the mail and cleaning the house, but sometimes my responsibilities become more of a challenge. There have been times where I have had to call for an ambulance because my mum has needed help.

As I mentioned, I do enjoy being a young carer and I take great pride in my role. However, sometimes it can also be very challenging. It can be exhausting, both physically and mentally. I am grateful for the level of support which I receive from my support worker and also my counsellor. They help ensure that I stay positive and do my best in my role, even through the challenging times.

I believe there is a lot that needs to be done to improve the standard of living for Scotland’s young carers. There is a lot of pressure on young people such as myself, and I feel that young carers are not recognised by key service providers across Scotland. I have been in situations where I have felt that there is very little recognition and knowledge of the extensive responsibilities and pressures facing young carers. Young carers need to be recognised and there must be accessible methods of support throughout Scotland.

As young people, we have a lot of big decisions facing us and therefore support is a crucial factor in ensuring we have access to the opportunities we wish to take on in order to live our lives to the full.

I have chosen to share my story in support of the Scottish Youth Parliament’s Care.Fair.Share. campaign. I believe in what the campaign stands for and the message that it doesn’t have to be like this. Care doesn’t have to mean compromise.

SYP are campaigning to alleviate the financial strain on young carers. In doing so the campaign is raising awareness of young carers like myself, who currently face compromise because of the responsibilities we take on in order to provide care and support for our loved ones. I’d like to encourage others to lend their support to this campaign and share your story. Make sure that young carers are visible and heard through this campaign and together we can make a significant change which will positively impact on the lives of these young people. You can pledge your support for Care.Fair.Share. by joining the SYP’s Thunderclap here.

Votes at 16 Announcement would be ‘A Seminal Moment for Scottish Democracy’

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Media outlets are reporting that as part of the agreement over the independence referendum,  the franchise will be determined by the Scottish Parliament.  The Scottish Government has made it clear it believes the franchise should be extended to 16 and 17-year-olds, and this agreement therefore paves the way for these young people to be able to vote in the referendum. However, the exact details of the agreement are yet to be revealed.

Grant Costello MSYP, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament, says:

“Allowing 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in the referendum would be a seminal moment for Scottish democracy.  Young people are the future of Scotland, and it’s entirely right they have their say on Scotland’s constitutional future.  SYP, along with NUS Scotland, have called on both the UK and Scottish Government’s to work together to make votes at 16 happen –we’re delighted that it appears this call has been listened to.

“However, the detail of this announcement will be very important.  There needs to be a clear commitment to ensure the process is in place for all 16-year-olds to be able to register to vote, ensuring every 16 and 17 year-old is given the chance to have their say on Scotland’s future.

“Allowing 16-year-olds to vote in this referendum will pave the way for the franchise to be extended in all future elections – after all, if we trust young people to vote on Scotland’s constitutional future, then we must surely see the case for allowing them to vote in all elections.”

SYP Elections Commission release report

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

In 2011 the Scottish Youth Parliament held its most successful set of elections yet.  Almost 85,000 young people voted for their local MSYP.

The Scottish Youth Parliament wanted to improve on that figure, strengthen and enhance our election procedures still further to ensure our elections were robust and could engage even more young people.  To that end we established an Independent Commission to examine how our elections should be conducted in future.  The Commission was headed by Strathclyde University elections expert Professor John Curtice and reported back to the Board of Trustees of the Scottish Youth Parliament in August 2012.

The Scottish Youth Parliament has accepted the recommendations of the Independent Commission, and will look to implement their recommedations in time for next years SYP Elections, where they hope to engage 100,000 young people with the elections.

Commission Report

The Independent Elections Commission recommended radical changes to the way in which elections to the Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP) are conducted. Amongst its key recommendations are:

  • all young people should have the opportunity to vote for their local Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYP).
  • the voting age  should be reduced from 14 to 12
  • use of the Single Transferable Vote (STV) proportional electoral system throughout Scotland rather than a mixture of STV and first past the post.
  • SYP constituencies should be based on local authority rather than Scottish Parliament boundaries
  • greater use of internet voting
  • opening up meetings of the Parliament to the wider public

Chaired by Strathclyde University elections expert, Professor John Curtice, the commission was asked by the SYP to conduct a thorough review of how its MSYPs are elected. Although more young people than ever before, 84,490, voted in the Parliament’s most recent election, held in March 2011, this still only represented one in ten of all those eligible to vote. Meanwhile there continue to be substantial differences in the way MSYPs are elected in different parts of Scotland.

The Commission’s proposals are designed to foster higher participation in SYP elections and ensure that throughout Scotland MSYPs are elected via a common, robust, more proportional process.

Professor Curtice said,

‘Since its formation in 1999, the Scottish Youth Parliament has made substantial strides towards becoming a body whose members have a clear electoral mandate and can claim to be representative of Scotland’s young people as a whole.  However, there is a need for further progress, not least in promoting turnout, in ensuring the Parliament’s elections are robust against fraud, and in holding its elections using a common set of rules. Achieving this will require a willingness to think afresh about past practice and to accept change for the benefit of the Parliament and the young people of Scotland as a whole. A vibrant, democratic Youth Parliament that engages the young people of Scotland in the political process is a prize well worth having.’

The SYP Elections Commission Report can be read here.

Scottish Youth Parliament Response

On the 25th of September the SYP Elections Commission Report was published.  The Scottish Youth Parliament released a statement and a response welcoming the report, and agreeing to implement the changes proposed by the commission.

The only area where the changes were not to be initially implemented in full was on the upper age limit for elections.  The SYP Board would like to make greater efforts to engage with older SYP voters in the run-up to the 2013 elections – and then to rexamine whether the franchise needs to be lowered to 21.

Speaking after the report was published, SYP Chair Grant Costello says:

“It’s clear the independent elections commission have produced a very substantial report, which challenges the Scottish Youth Parliament to reform the way we conduct our elections.  It would be easy for SYP to rest on our laurels after getting nearly 85,000 votes in our last elections. Instead we will choose to accept the recommendations of the commission in full.

“The challenge for SYP now is to implement these changes, to create a better elections system, and to aim to get more than 100,000 votes in our next election in 2013.”

The Scottish Youth Parliament’s response to the Elections Commission report can be read here


For more information about the SYP Elections Commission go to


Scotland’s young people call for ‘One Fair Wage’ to help fight against poverty

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

“I pledge to support the One Fair Wage campaign. I believe everyone in Scotland, no matter how old they are, should earn at least a Scottish Living Wage based on how much it costs to live.”

Today, 12th September 2012, the Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP) launched a new national campaign, ‘One Fair Wage’ calling on politicians, businesses, councils and charities to pledge their support for the Scottish Living Wage.

SYP believe everyone in Scotland deserve to earn at least enough to live on.  We believe it’s obscene for people to be working whilst still trapped in poverty.  We believe a Scottish Living Wage can make a real difference to half a million low-paid Scots.

A Scottish Living Wage won’t solve all the problems causing poverty in Scotland.  But without decent wages which allow low paid workers a decent standard of living we’ll never win the battle.

Over the next year the Scottish Youth Parliament will call on politicians, businesses, councils and charities to pledge their support for a Scottish Living Wage.  It’s time for a better and fairer approach to pay in Scotland.  It’s time for One Fair Wage

The campaign has already received support from The Scottish Government, the Scottish Labour Party, UNISON and Save the Children.  The year-long campaign will focus on a grass-roots approach by Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYPs) directly engaging with their local councils and businesses to convince them everyone in Scotland deserves a fair living wage.

Grant Costello MSYP, SYP Chair, says:

“Scotland’s young people today launch a campaign to tackle one of the root causes of poverty – low wages.  Far too many workers are being paid wages which are far too low to live on.  It’s unacceptable for poor workers to be reliant on foodbanks and charity.  It’s unacceptable for young workers to be paid as little as £3.68 an hour.  It’s unacceptable for the children of working families to be living in poverty. A Scottish Living Wage can make a huge difference to their lives.


“This is not a campaign about political process.  It’s about organisations making a moral and economic choice to pay their workers a Scottish Living Wage.  That’s the message MSYPs will be taking out across Scotland today – that’s what One Fair Wage is all about.”


Angela Constance MSP, Scottish Government Minister for Youth Employment says:

“Living wage is an important part of a package of Scottish Government policies to support sustainable employment and tackle poverty.  We have demonstrated our full support for the principles of the living wage in Scotland and are leading by example by implementing the living wage through Scottish public sector pay, with the majority of local authorities also implementing the policy.


“We support discussion on this important issue and we are using our consultation on the Procurement Reform Bill to seek stakeholders’ views on promoting the living wage.  This consultation closes on 2 November 2012 and we look forward to receiving responses from all sectors, young people and from Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament.”


Kez Dugdale MSP, Labour’s Shadow Youth Employment Minister says:

“I congratulate the Scottish Youth Parliament once again for the tremendous leadership they’ve demonstrated in picking a priority campaign which will not only helps young Scots, but also speaks to the values of a nation that they want to build and be proud of.


“Two thirds of the children living in poverty come from working households. Work simply has to pay if we want to live in a more equal and fair society, and I look forward to working very closely with SYP to turn that dream into a reality.”


Dave Watson, UNISON Scottish Organiser says:

“UNISON welcomes the launch of the Scottish Youth Parliament’s One Fair Wage campaign. A living wage allows workers to provide for themselves and their families. It’s also good for the economy, as low paid workers spend more with local businesses. Everyone gains by moving away from the low wage economy.”


Douglas Hamilton, Head of Save the Children in Scotland, says:

“Children should not be bearing the brunt of the recession. Poverty is tearing families apart, with parents buckling under the pressure of mounting bills and children seeing their parents argue more about money. It’s inexcusable that this is happening in Scotland in 2012.

“It’s great to see the support of the Scottish Youth Parliament for fair wages. Given nearly half of children living in poverty in Scotland have at least one parent in work, it is truly appalling those parents can’t earn enough to give themselves and their kids a decent life. The Scottish Government must do more by supporting parents into work, making work pay by promoting the Scottish Living Wage, providing extra childcare and protecting the poorest and most disadvantaged from further cuts.”

A Letter of Thanks from The Scottish Youth Parliament

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

26th July 2012

Dear Ms. Sturgeon,

A Letter of Thanks from the Scottish Youth Parliament

I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of all MSYPs and the young people of Scotland to say thank you to you and to the Scottish Government as a whole for taking the historic step to legislate for same-sex marriage in Scotland.

Through our campaign, Love Equally, tens of thousands of young people have voiced their support for equal marriage. Young people across the length and breadth of Scotland have told us that they believe in the very simple message of our campaign – two people who love each other should be able to get married.

We thank the Scottish Government for listening to the views of its young people, not only sending an extremely strong and positive message rooted in equality but also showing young people that by engaging in the democratic process they can bring about real change.

The Scottish Youth Parliament understands that this announcement comes at the beginning of an important legislative process and we very much look forward to doing all that we can to assist this process, ensuring that the views of young people continue to be heard. There is still much to do and we urge the UK and Scottish Governments to work together to make any necessary changes to the Equality Act as soon as possible, so that equal marriage can be made a reality in Scotland without delay.

Yours sincerely,

Grant Costello MSYP
Chair, Scottish Youth Parliament

SYP ‘Very Disappointed at Delay on Equal Marriage’

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

The Scottish Youth Parliament today, Tuesday 17th July 2012 expressed their disappointment on behalf of Scotland’s young people at the Scottish Government’s decision to further delay their announcement on Equal Marriage.

The Scottish Government consultation on same-sex marriage closed on the 9th of December 2011, the Scottish Government had previously indicated there would be an announcement in March, June and the tenth of July before today’s further delay.

Grant Costello MSYP, Scottish Youth Parliament Chair says:
“It’s very disappointing the Scottish Government has once again delayed the decision to publish the consultation results, and reveal their own plans for Equal Marriage. It’s time to halt the hold-ups, end the delays, and put a stop to the speculation. Scotland’s young people have made their view clear, they deserve an answer from Scotland’s Government.

“Let’s be clear, now is the time for Equal Marriage. A majority of MSPs are in favour. A majority of Scots, and an overwhelming majority of Scotland’s youth, support Equal Marriage. It’s time for the Scottish Government to stop the dither and delay, to listen to the clear message being sent by Scotland’s young people, and to make Equal Marriage a reality for Scotland.”