SCOTLAND’S NEWLY ELECTED YOUTH PARLIAMENT CALLS ON DECISION MAKERS TO TACKLE CHILD POVERTY

23 June 2015

Scottish Youth Parliament Press Office

Newly elected young people from all over Scotland called on decision makers to combat poverty as they gathered in Renfrewshire for the Scottish Youth Parliament’s 57th National Sitting and AGM.

Nearly 160 Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYPs), who were elected in March 2015, attended the two day event, where they pledged to focus every effort on campaigning to combat poverty in Scotland by championing SYP’s national campaign, POVERTY: See It Change It.

The POVERTY: See It Change It campaign aims to: raise awareness among young people and wider society about child and youth poverty; combat popular negative stigmas and speak about the reality of poverty in Scotland; and, challenge elected leaders and key stakeholders to work together to end child poverty by 2020.

More than one in five of Scotland’s children are considered to be living in poverty. This is much higher than in many other European countries.[1]

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. With only 5 years to go until 2020, the Scottish Youth Parliament hopes its campaign will send the message that now is the time to seriously act.

Since the campaign launched in January 2015, the previous membership of SYP has been hard at work raising the profile of the campaign, and gathering the views of children and young people across Scotland on poverty. This work has led to the creation of a word cloud graphic, which shows what children and young people across Scotland think about poverty and where they want to see change.

In autumn 2015, the Scottish Youth Parliament will publish research which explores how children and young people view poverty and what impact they believe it has. Almost 1,000 young people aged 11-25 were surveyed by SYP. Interim findings from the research show that young people are aware of the detrimental impact poverty has, and believe that tackling poverty should be a priority for the Scottish Government.

Ahead of the Scottish Parliamentary elections in 2016, Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament will be encouraging elected officials and parliamentary candidates to pledge their individual commitment to making tackling poverty in Scotland their priority.

Speaking about the progress of the campaign so far, Jordan Linden MSYP, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament, said:

“It is unacceptable that one in five of our children and young people in Scotland live in poverty. Many young people in Scotland are simply robbed of their childhood. They are robbed of the opportunity to use their passion and talents to create a better and more prosperous future for themselves.

“Now that the General Election has passed and the political parties in Scotland continue to prepare for the Scottish Parliamentary elections in 2016, the Scottish Youth Parliament will urge all elected representatives and parliamentary candidates to publicly pledge their commitment to combatting poverty in Scotland.

“Our campaign efforts so far have shown that Scotland’s young people want to see change. Young people have told us there is a need for improvement and support across a range of issues throughout Scotland, such as education, access to work experience and opportunities, fairness and equality, and paying a living wage. There can be no doubt that combatting poverty is something young people from every constituency across Scotland want to see be made a priority by every elected representative.

“This issue transcends party politics and goes to the very heart of who we are, and who we want to be as a nation. By working together, we can strive to ensure elected leaders uphold the commitment to tackle child poverty in Scotland and the UK by the year 2020. With five years to go, now is the time to seriously act.”

[1] Barnardo’s UK. What Causes Child Poverty? http://www.barnardos.org.uk/what_we_do/our_work/ child_poverty/child_poverty_what_is_poverty/what_causes_child_poverty.htm