Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament have been busy throughout 2023 – we’ve held National Sittings in Orkney and Aberdeen, hosted pop-up events across the country, travelled to the United Nations in Geneva and more over the course of the year.
As the year draws to a close – and as SYP is set to welcome our new Membership in early 2024 – we’ve rounded up some of our highlights from this year.
To kick off our year, SYP’s Transport and Rural Affairs Committee met with their counterparts in The Scottish Parliament’s Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee to talk about young people’s views on ferry travel in Scotland. The Committee’s report then recommended free ferry travel for young people living in island communities, something which SYP had called for.
In February, Beau Johnston MSYP and Daisy Stewart Henderson MSYP travelled to Geneva alongside #TeamScotlandUN to represent young people at the United Nations as part of their assessment of Scotland and the UK’s human rights record. Meanwhile, Martin Whitfield MSP led a debate on UNCRC incorporation in The Scottish Parliament, including mentioning the ‘human rights defenders’ giving evidence and speaking to the Committee in Geneva.
Our ‘Young People’s Right to Food’ report was published in March – the main recommendation from the report called on The Scottish Government to extend and accelerate the roll out of free school meals to all pupils across the country. Following the launch of the report, SYP co-hosted an event with the STUC Women’s Committee and the EIS to mark International School Meals Day.
Following their election at our Annual General Meeting in the last month, the SYP Board started their training to help them carry out their roles as board members. All of the SYP Board are given specific areas of responsibility as part of their portfolios, this is the areas of work they help lead on alongside our staff team and other MSYPs.
May brought about the launch of our new resources to support meaningful participation with children and young people. This work was the culmination of a year long project funded by The Scottish Government. You can access the resources and find out more about how to engage with young people on The Right Way hub.
In June, we attended the Annual Cabinet Meeting with Children and Young People alongside the Children’s Parliament. MSYPs spoke to the First Minister and the Cabinet on a range of issues such as our National Campaign Priorities, UNCRC incorporation, youth work funding and more.
MSYPs were off to Orkney in July for SYP’s 79th National Sitting held at Kirkwall Grammar School. Our visit to the island was delayed by the pandemic, this meant it was 10 years since we had last been in Orkney. As well as debating policy, passing motions, holding committee meetings and more, Members also got to experience a traditional Orkney ceilidh and squeeze in some sightseeing too!
To coincide with International Youth Day in August, SYP launched a second, updated version of our ‘Youth Work and Me’ report. The report includes findings from a survey of our members about their experience of youth work. MSYPs said youth work is important because it gives young people
new experiences and skills, develops friendships and allows for opportunities to make change.
MSYPs Emma Prach and Marcus Flucker published their ‘Single-Use, Many Voices’ report on the issue of disposable, single-use vapes. As part of their work around the issue, the Members also met with the Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity and the Chief Executive of Zero Waste Scotland.
We announced a new partnership with Sistema Scotland, who joined SYP as an Associate National Voluntary Organisation, in October. Young people from Sistema’s Big Noise Torry project attended our 70th National Sitting in Aberdeen. Sistema are SYP’s tenth National Voluntary Organisation partner.
In November, we published SYP’s ‘Education Times’ magazine, which pulls together all of our education related work from this membership. Features in the magazine include evidence given to the UN Committee, taking part in the National Discussion as well as our close work with Professor Louise Hayward on The Independent Review of Qualifications and Assessments.
Last but certainly by no means least, in early December MSPs passed the UNCRC Incorporation Bill. This had been a long time coming since the Bill was originally passed in March 2021, before being blocked due to a legal challenge. MSYPs joined MCPs as well as other children and young people and partners in The Scottish Parliament chamber to watch the debate and MSPs approve the Bill.
Thank you to our MSYPs and partners for your resilience and support throughout 2023 to protect young people’s rights.
We look forward to representing young people’s views again in 2024, alongside our new Membership as we mark 25 years of the Scottish Youth Parliament.