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The Annual Cabinet Meetings with Children and Young People

Every year since 2017 Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYPs) and Members of the Children’s Parliament (MCPs) have joined the Annual Cabinet Meeting with Children and Young People (#CabinetTakeover). The meeting gives children and young people the opportunity to bring some of the issues most important to them and their peers directly to the First Minister, Deputy First Minister, and Cabinet Secretaries. The annual meeting is, as far as we know, the only one of its kind anywhere in the world!

The Scottish Youth Parliament do exceptional work in helping our children and young people to confidently express their views and have a real influence on the issues that matter most to them.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, prior to the Cabinet Takeover Meeting in March 2022
This video was made by Wiktoria Orlicka MSYP prior to the 2022 Cabinet Takeover meeting to explain what the meeting is and the impact it has in realising young people’s article 12 UNCRC right to be heard.

In past meetings, children and young people have spoken on topics ranging from the climate emergency, to listening to young people from seldom-heard groups, to mental health. But one consistent thread throughout has been the importance of recognising children and young people’s rights, including their article 12 rights to be heard on issues that affect them. MSYPs have called for the Scottish Government to incorporate the UNCRC into Scots Law at previous Cabinet meetings.

Over the course of several years, speeches made on this topic helped a wider lobby secure a commitment from the Scottish Government in 2018 to incorporate the UNCRC into Scots Law. MSYPs then used subsequent meetings as an opportunity to share young people’s views on the kind of incorporation young people wished to see – full and direct – which was realised in the UNCRC (Incorporation)(Scotland) Bill in 2021.

Members of the Cabinet have noted the impact these inputs had on them and the value they held in their thinking on this issue. In a letter from Deputy First Minister, John Swinney MSP, sent after the Bill passed stage three, he noted that The Bill is a direct result of children and young people, and those that work to support them, campaigning for their rights over the past decade and beyond in Scotland.” This sentiment, along with specific reference to the Annual Cabinet Meeting, was echoed in the final debate.

Including children and young people in the process leads to better, more inclusive, and more sustainable solutions and decisions for them and for society. Above that though, children and young people have the right to be heard, and the Cabinet meeting is an example of this right in action.

Speeches and actions

Since the 2021 meeting, SYP has published the speeches MSYPs gave at Cabinet Meetings as blogs with reflections on the experience from the MSYPs involved. You can read them all below:

2022

MSYPTopic and Speech
Josh Kennedy MSYPYoung people need to know when their rights will be protected

2021

MSYPTopic & Speech
Josh Kennedy MSYPIncorporating the UNCRC into Scots Law
Brooke Barr MSYPAddressing the Long-Term Impact of COVID-19 on Young People
Mollie McGoran MSYPPutting Rights at the Heart of the COVID-19 Recovery
Erin Campbell MSYPMake engaging with Seldom Heard Groups a Priority
Liam Fowley MSYPEngaging Young People in Decision-Making
Ilse CuthbertsonYoung People’s Experiences throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic

You can view the agreed actions from the 2021 meeting by clicking here.

2020

You can view the agreed actions and the Scottish Government’s Progress Reports from the 2020 meeting by clicking here.

The report includes actions on reducing plastic pollution, protecting youth work budget, housing first, and more.

2019

You can view the agreed actions and the Scottish Government’s Progress Reports from the 2019 meeting by clicking here.

The report includes actions on incorporating the UNCRC into Scots Law, anti-bullying, and reviewing young people’s concessionary public transport fares.

2018

You can view the agreed actions and the Scottish Government’s Progress Reports from the 2018 meeting by clicking here.

The report includes actions on protecting young people’s rights throughout Brexit, meaningfully engaging young people in the policymaking process and more.