MSYPs, Support Workers… well, what a 48 hours that has been!
I would almost say that I am lost for words, but that is clearly not the case, in fact it rarely ever is.
In my closing remarks, I want to, briefly reflect on all we have achieved this weekend, but, crucially, talk about the future, and what I hope we can now achieve together as we look ahead.
With Lead the Way launched, we have the refreshed mandate we need to represent the views of all of Scotland’s young people. What an opportunity that is now for each of us to use that to hammer home what young people think about all of the big issues of the day to all of the political parties and candidates in the forthcoming elections!
We have been in touch with an MSP who has agreed to lodge a parliamentary motion at Holyrood about Lead the Way: another way you can help get the message out there is ask your local MSP to show their support for SYP by signing the motion- we will send the details of the motion around when it is published.
Also- when the Holyrood election campaign gets underway, and you hear that inevitable knock on the door, why don’t you keep your manifesto to hand and make sure that candidates in every constituency in the country hear first-hand, from you, the issues that matter the most to young people?
I can tell you that the SYP staff team will be issuing copies of the manifesto to the political parties, to all MPs and Council Leaders and will use it as the springboard of an engagement programme. And you can help with that too, by contacting YOUR local MSP after the elections and asking to meet them to share the results of Lead the Way. What better way to introduce yourself to them and put yourself on their radar?!
I think a key theme of this weekend has been the amazing things that MSYPs are achieving at an individual level, in their Committees, and in the Communities they serve.
I thought that was showcased so well and so powerfully at the SYP Awards last night. Please, let us all, once again, show our appreciation for all of the nominees and the winners of SYP Awards!
Looking forward, now, I wanted to share you with you some of the activity that we have planned for the weeks and months ahead.
Inclusion is a core value for SYP and a key part of all that we do. Reaching out to remote, rural and island communities is something that I, the Board and the staff team take very seriously.
Over the next couple of months or so, I will be travelling to Orkney to meet the local MSYPs and their support work team, and hear about what they have been getting up in their area. I am also hoping to take part in a youth engagement session in a local school, and will be meeting the Council Leader, to talk to him about SYP’s work locally and nationally, and how we can work together in the future.
There is one more important thing I want to announce, right here, and right now, that underlines, definitively, just how committed we are to reaching out to every part of Scotland.
I’m going to announce the location of the next National Sitting of the Scottish Youth Parliament, SYP 60.
The next Sitting will be held in….
• Stornoway, in The Western Isles!
I can’t tell you just how much I am looking forward to it- already!
The dates for the Sitting itself are from 30th June until 3rd July.
Now, the observant amongst you will notice that is four days but, calm down… that does NOT mean that the Sitting will take place over four days, just that you need to be available for those days, to make what will for some of us be quite a long journey there. The actual business of the Sitting will take place on the Friday and Saturday of that weekend.
Another thing I want to do over the next few weeks is, working with the Convenor’s Group and the staff team, review the way that policy is made in SYP. Building on the success of the consultation on the opportunities policy, we will issue those proposals as another consultation to allow every MSYP to share their views on these important matters.
I think this demonstrates that the voices of MSYPs are heard within SYP about the way we work and that the decisions account for those voices.
All of us play a vital role in making the difference to young peoples’ lives, day in and day out – there is work being done by MSYPs in communities across Scotland that truly champions young peoples’ voices. Often, the work that goes on can be unseen. It may go unseen, but it is having an impact.
And that is why I think SYP sittings are such an incredible opportunity to showcase and shine a spotlight on the kinds of successes we have heard about today, and also why I, personally, enjoy them so much. Coming to Sittings is the thing that makes all of the hard work we do, day in, day out, worthwhile.
Before I close this session, I wanted to thank you all for your contributions, your engagement, and your support.
Thank you to the SYP staff, and especially to Rosy Burgess, without whom these Sittings are not possible. Let’s show our appreciation for them, and Rosy in particular, now.
Then, to our colleagues at the Borders, and especially Ceri.
Then all of the support workers, from local authorities and from our national voluntary organisation partners.
Finally, to each and every MSYP. You are a massive inspiration, and I can’t thank you enough for all that you do.
Please remember to fill in your evaluations before you leave.
Please also remember that if there is anything that you want to raise with me, the Board, or the staff, we are just an email or a phone call away- and we really appreciate your feedback!
So as you travel home, I’d urge you to think about what we have achieved not only this weekend but over the last few months. We should never forget the potential which we have to make a difference across our Communities. Together we will continue to make that difference and to truly deliver for Scotland’s Young People.
Thank you, and safe journey home!