POVERTY: See it Change it campaign launch
Nairn McDonald MSYP
Article 6 of the United Nation’s Convention of the Rights of the Child states that children and young people have the right to be alive, survive and to develop through life.
Article 24 states that children and young people have the right to be healthy, and to live in a safe, healthy environment.
Article 26 states that children and young people are entitled to support from the Government if they live in deprivation.
Article 27 states that you have the right to a safe place to live, food and clothing and to take part in things you in enjoy.
My name is Nairn McDonald. I am the Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament for Cunninghame South. I also sit on the Board of the Scottish Youth Parliament to represent our Conveners Group, the group of young people that plan and oversee our campaigns. I also pitched this campaign to our membership at our October Sitting.
The articles of the UNCRC which I read out at the beginning are the rights of children and young people. Rights, as we know, are something that all young people are entitled to, they should be cherished and protected.
By thinking of child and youth poverty in this way, it becomes much more apparent that one in five children in Scotland living below an adequate standard is something we cannot be willing to accept. We must do more! Children and young people have inalienable rights that must be protected.
This rights based perspective is the context in which the Scottish Youth Parliament’s POVERTY: See it Change it campaign will raise awareness of, and challenge the stigma associated with, child and youth poverty.
I must admit, I was nervous when I was preparing to address the Membership of the Scottish Youth Parliament with proposals for a campaign to help combat child and youth poverty. Poverty is a difficult subject for many people often due to personal experiences, or the negative stigma, which unfortunately is often associated with the word.
For me, I grew up surrounded by poverty, and I have seen the devastating impact it can have on a young person’s future and their quality of life. Poverty can often undermine the health, wellbeing, and the educational opportunities of children and young people.
When pitching the proposals for SYP’s new campaign, I wanted to share my personal experiences having grown up surrounded by poverty. I wanted my fellow MSYPs to understand the passion I have for this campaign, and to understand why there is a drastic need for change, given the devastating impact poverty can have.
Poverty is an enigma. It hides itself behind forced smiles and cracking facades. Poverty can affect anyone, at any time, and that is what we must make people recognise.
There is an image of poverty that is portrayed and largely stereotyped by television and other media sources. These stereotypes attempt to define poverty as an issue that only exists in certain areas and only affects certain people. These stereotypes are often fed my irresponsible reporting and misinformation. We must challenge this!
The truth is that poverty can affect anyone, at any time. There are many people who society may not recognise as being affected by poverty, but these people are struggling to keep a roof over their head and food on their table. We need to challenge this stigma and misinformation.
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. Many of the organisations represented here today have been working tirelessly for many years on this issue, and we must acknowledge their work and progress they have made.
As 2020 is now only five years away, I believe it is time that we recognise the reality of child and youth poverty in Scotland, and make it our priority to work together to change it. I hope that our contribution through this campaign can change the way young people in Scotland view poverty and those who are living in poverty.
At the Scottish Youth Parliament, we have had a number of recent campaign successes including Love Equally, Votes at 16 and Care.Fair.Share. Our strength comes from every single Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament going out and engaging with young people in their area and effectively using social media. With every MSYP passionately campaigning, we can reach thousands of young people through this campaign. This is a massive opportunity. We must grasp it, and we will!
The “POVERTY: See it Change it” campaign will have three main themes.
Firstly, “See it.” We want Scotland’s young people to have a more complete understanding of the reality of child and youth poverty and the right of children and young people to live free from poverty.
Secondly, “Change it.” Our MSYPs will go out and have peer to peer discussions through our bespoke thought provoking youth engagement sessions which will encourage young people to think about the negative stigmas associated with poverty in comparison to the reality, and challenge those stigmas.
And finally “Keep it.”, our MSYPs will engage with local and national decision makers to urge them to keep their commitment to end child and youth poverty by 2020.
We also hope to celebrate and promote the role many fantastic organisations and projects, many of whom are here today, play in tackling poverty across Scotland. I would like to thank all of our partners, who have not only supported the campaign but who have also shared their wealth of knowledge and experience with us. We wouldn’t be able to do this without your support, and we look forward to working with you during the course of the campaign.
As Louise mentioned, our Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament voted overwhelmingly to campaign on this issue because that is what their constituents were telling them to do. This is a major priority for the young people of Scotland, they want to see change!
As the democratically elected voice of Scotland’s young people, we must be drivers of that change.
We can’t do it alone! We need as many people as possible to get involved and get behind the campaign. I would really urge you to engage with us online, work with our MSYPs locally, urge your elected representatives to do more.
Remember, if you don’t already, follow us on twitter and instagram using @OfficialSYP and follow the progress of the campaign using #seeitchangeit.
When thinking about today, and the importance of it for us as an organisation, words from the late Robin Williams sprung to mind. He said, “No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.”
Let the campaign begin!