Recently I attended an engagement session with my local ENABLE Scotland group in Arbroath. ENABLE Scotland is a charity which supports people who have learning disabilities and their families. This engagement session was used to introduce the local group to the Scottish Youth Parliament and gather their opinions for our manifesto consultation. I wanted to attend this engagement session because I want my constituents to feel like they can rely on me as an MSYP. I want to make sure their voices are heard, when SYP relays their views back to decision-makers.
This session was an opportunity for SYP to consult with young people on our “To Scotland’s Young People” survey. Young people shared their ideas on two key questions: “What changes do you want to see in Scotland by 2026?” and “What needs to happen for these changes to be made?”
Responses to the first question included: bullying in schools, the need for life skills classes, more days at college, greater support when applying for jobs such as careers advice, writing CVs and interview skills, better mental health support, improved public transport (especially in rural areas) and more local youth groups.
In answer to the second question, young people called for: easier access to mental health support at your GPs, more information in schools about learning disabilities to help tackle and prevent bullying, and more training/ job opportunities provided for young people with learning disabilities. Another key issue was tackling the transition that young people face when leaving school, as the group felt there needs to greater support with this.
These responses have helped shape the design of our manifesto and have been considered by SYP’s Conveners Group in the next steps of the manifesto plan. Going forward, SYP’s manifesto, “From Scotland’s Young People” will launch in March 2020.
I thought the session was great! It was especially good to hear all the young people’s opinions and all the discussions that went on. I believe it is important for MSYPs to get involved with any engagement sessions in their local area because it helps young people gain an understanding on the role of an MSYP and helps them feel more confident in raising their issues to their local MSYP. I encourage all MSYPs to organise or co-facilitate an engagement session in their local area or with their National Voluntary Organisation!
We pride ourselves on the diversity of our membership and the outreach work we do as MSYPs. We hope to continue our strong links with organisations like ENABLE Scotland to ensure that all young people can have their voices heard.