'An invaluable experience'

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Scottish Youth Parliament

20 December 2017


Susie, an S6 work experience pupil, has been volunteering with the staff team at the Scottish Youth Parliament in Edinburgh once a week since September. Here, she talks about the kind of work she's been doing, the people she's met, and what she thinks of the experience.


My name is Susie, I’m in S6, and for the academic year 2017/18 I am lucky enough to be volunteering with the Scottish Youth Parliament once a week.

Every pupil in my year is required to do voluntary service at some point during their weekly timetable – for some people, it can be tricky for them to immediately find something they love - but for a lucky few, we found something that is useful, interesting, and besides everything else: fun.

The main reason I applied to volunteer with SYP is simple: as part of a degree I would like to study politics. Previously, when I thought of SYP, I imagined a few people across the country who communicate occasionally on minor issues of importance. It turns out this is a complete lie: SYP have been momentum behind some of the biggest issues Scotland’s young people will or have faced - most notably: votes at 16.  But what I also didn’t realise before I started was the sheer amount of other things SYP tackles: from engaging young people of all backgrounds, to visiting schools, and most impressively, completely successfully organising and coordinating one of the world’s longest established youth parliaments.

I have been volunteering at SYP once a week now for about three months, and I have learned so much, from how to create a spreadsheet properly (thanks, Jenny) to the basics of running a parliamentary sitting in the real life Scottish Parliament(!). My knowledge of all things SYP and Scottish young people has expanded massively.

When I first arrived at SYP's offices in early September I was slightly intimidated. I had never been in a proper office environment, and I was about to meet a lot of new, professional people. Jenny – the only member of staff I had already met – was a great support and introduced me individually to all the other members of staff. I was surprised and very confused as to how a team of ten people managed to get through such a volume and range of work!

Having settled at my desk, I got to meet one-on-one with each member of the team and find out exactly what they do in their role. This was great as I hadn’t previously thought about just how many different roles there could be, and the different tasks each of those roles would perform. Throughout my weeks here, I have now had a chance to help each person with different tasks. It’s been really interesting to see how every person will have super official tasks, such as talking to government officials about their policies, as well as more practical ones such as organising or designing name badges – but all of these tasks have the same importance as they all aid Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament and therefore the young people of Scotland in some way.

It was incredibly lucky that SYP64, the Scottish Youth Parliament’s 64th national sitting – where all the MSYPs come together and vote on the issues that are most important to our young people, have meetings in their subject committees, and get to experience politics first-hand – was in Edinburgh, and, better yet, was in the Scottish Parliament! This meant that I got to take the day off school and help out at this huge event.

Sitting in the SYP offices each week, it’s sometimes easy to forget the young people that are behind the whole organisation, but, sitting in Parliament’s debating chamber watching people speak out about important issues and cast votes that directly make a difference, it really sunk in for me just how much amazing work every person in the organisation is doing.

In my time here, I have learned so much about not only politics of Scotland’s young people but of the world. I have had an invaluable experience and I look forward to seeing where it takes me further into the academic year.