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25 October 2015


Well, what a weekend this has been!

Your second National Sitting as a Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament of the 2015-2017 Session has come to a close, and I hope that you have had a wonderful weekend.

This weekend, like every weekend spent with MSYPs has been an absolute privilege, an absolute pleasure and an absolute blast. I have loved every minute spent in your company. For me, highlights of my time as an MSYP are always the ones which are spent with you.

I wanted to highlight some of the incredible things which we have done over this weekend. Beginning with the incredible debates on members motions led by Andrew Kirk, Skye Brettell, Terri Smith, Kain McLeod, Ruraidh Stewart, Kirsty McCahill, Ewan McCall, Lewis Akers, Lewis Douglas, Heather Cameron, Euan Waddell and Cian Gullen.

We have selected a National Campaign that will fundamentally help shape the future of Scotland through policy changes or actions – and it will be because of you. Together, we will take forward our campaign on mental health, and I know, like our previous campaigns, we will succeed!

Our success comes from you, our Members – so please let us know what you’re getting up to as MSYPs – tweet us, email us, pop in to the Office and visit. Our Staff Team are on hand to help and support in anyway they can, from support to contact your Local Media to arranging meetings with your MSPs – our team are happy to help.  We want you to get behind the projects we’re running; but most importantly we want to know and promote the amazing work that you are doing locally!

I wanted to remind you all that there is still time to get your Lead the Way survey responses to us – please make sure you get responses to your Support Workers, so that every survey can be counted. If we are to meet our target of 70,000 responses, we need the help of single person in this room- so please do everything you can to get as many completed consultations back to us as soon as you can.

Coming back to look at what has happened this weekend and in particular on that fantastic campaign we have selected – I do want to congratulate all of the presenters of all of the Campaign Options, Rachael McCully, Alex Robertson, Molly Kirby, Mark Swan and James Thomson, because all of the speeches which were delivered for all of the campaign options were truly incredible and I feel it’s important to recognise that. So a huge well done!

Of course, earlier today we heard from our friend the fantastic Children and Young Peoples Commissioner for Scotland, Tam Baillie on our relationship as an organisation and of course the work that his Office is doing to champion the Rights Agenda.

Reflecting though on this weekends sitting in general, it’s important to recognise as with any event, these sittings do not happen without the hard work and dedication of a number of people and organisations.

I want to pay tribute and thank, Emma Ball and our kind hosts for this weekend, East Renfrewshire Council, for hosting us and organising what was a fantastic evening and incredible entertainment last night. MSYPs can I please ask you to show your appreciation for our hosts, East Renfrewshire Council.

Without this group of special individuals, our work couldn’t take place and we would never be able to achieve the things that we achieve. Our Support Workers are pillars of the work that we do, their support, dedication and belief in the work of the Scottish Youth Parliament drives us forward. I’d like to ask you all, again, to show your thanks for the work of our Support Workers.

There is a special member of Staff within our Scottish Youth Parliament Staff Team, without her, the sittings simply would not happen. Rosy Burgess, is our SYP Events and Campaigns Officer – Rosy thank you for your incredible work over the last few months to make this weekend happen. MSYPs please show your appreciation for Rosy Burgess.

SYP Sittings require a team effort to happen, from co-ordinating with partners, to working hard together to make it happen. Our Scottish Youth Parliament Staff Team are one of a kind, their commitment to ensuring that SYP provides the opportunity and space for its members to create change is second to none. Can I pay tribute to their work and thank all of them for their work. MSYPs please show your appreciation for our fantastic SYP Staff.

My final thanks, is to all of you. Your Passion. Your Enthusiasm. Your Commitment and Respect. Your work this weekend, has meant that the voices and views of young people in your communities across Scotland, have been heard and have fundamentally progressed the participation agenda, and serves as wonderful promotion of the fulfilment of the rights of young people in Scotland.

I want the focus of my final remarks to be on the future, and what’s around the corner for us an organisation.

We have been working hard to develop a new Strategic Plan for this organisation, embedded within it are the principles that underline, protect and deliver the rights of young people, as stated in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. This three-year approach, will allow a stronger, more secure and productive future for this Youth Parliament. At the absolute centre of this plan is a determination to enhance our engagement with all of Scotland’s young people and to build on and expand the participation and involvement of MSYPs in decision making at a community, local and national level.

Over the next few months, we will be working hard to embed this, and ensure that SYP is seen as the go to organisation, and the leading force in the promotion and defence of, the rights of young people in Scotland.

You, the Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament define who we are and what we do as an organisation and what we can achieve. Just as there is no limits to what you can aspire to and achieve, so too are there no limits for us as a collective organisation.

This weekend, you have selected mental health to be your National Campaign for next year. Over the next few months, the Conveners will be working hard with our staff team to develop a comprehensive MSYP led campaign strategy so that we can hit the ground running and with a bang when we launch the campaign that you have chosen, in January 2016.

With a New Year, comes new ambitions and new aspirations. Over the next few weeks, we will know the outcome of the Lead The Way Manifesto Consultation! This is a defining moment in the history of SYP. Our Membership will have the opportunity to launch a manifesto that will last for the next FIVE YEARS! Your work in the final weeks to ensure as many young people as possible participate will provide Lead The Way with the strongest and largest democratic mandate in SYP history and the largest youth consultation of it’s type in Scotland.

I referred to one of our sayings that are often associated with us in my opening remarks yesterday. SYP is a little about politics, and a lot about YOU!

Being part of our organisation and representing the views of your constituents is as much about your development as a person, an individual, as anything else. It’s about the experiences you have, the friends you make, and the change you bring about. Make the most of it. Take every opportunity that comes to you! Make your own opportunities! Together, when we think together, stand together and believe together – we can achieve together!

Over the last few years we have, together, achieved a huge amount. But, of course, now is not the time to be complacent. There are major opportunities on the horizon: such as the Scottish Parliament elections next year.

That is a huge opportunity for us to ensure that the voices of young people are heard, and our views are accounted for by Scottish politicians in the years ahead.

So- here is my challenge to you. Let’s, all of us, work together to make sure that all of the political parties, and all of the candidates in the May election, know where we stand. Every one of you can play your part in that- by talking to every MSYP candidate about the issues in Lead the Way and make sure that the voices of young people are heard!

And now, for something quite exciting. I am delighted to announce that the 59th National Sitting of the Scottish Youth Parliament will be held in 13th and 14th March 2016 in the Scottish Borders.  We will be in touch with everyone over the next few weeks with more details, and Members’ Motions suggestions will open in December.  The March 2016 Sitting also includes the SYP Awards, and nominations will be opening in November, so start thinking about who you would like to nominate to receive an award at this celebration of your first year as MSYPs!

I want to end, by thanking you all for the passion and enthusiasm that you have demonstrated this weekend. I look forward to hearing about all the amazing work which you are doing over the next few weeks.

I would encourage you to please keep in contact with your Regional Board Members to keep us informed of the incredible things which you are doing across the country to make a difference to the lives of Scotland’s young people.

Thank you all for a truly special weekend- you have been fantastic. I hope that you feel as energised as I do by all that we have achieved over the last couple of days, and that, like me, can’t wait to get started on the work that is about to begin. Every single one of you is making a real and tangible difference to the lives of Scotland’s young people, through all of your hard work. As you travel home, I hope you remember that, I hope that you take pride in it, and I hope you continue to work as hard as you can to deliver a brighter future for every young person in this country.


See you soon!