Political passion alive in Jamie’s first columnn

I am very excited to have the first instalment of my monthly article regarding my work as your member of the Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP) for Argyll and Bute published in The Buteman this week.

I was elected as your MSYP on the March 15, 2015 and it’s a huge honour to represent the young people of Argyll & Bute.

For those who don’t know, the Scottish Youth Parliament represents all of Scotland’s young people. Our vision for Scotland is of a nation that actively listens to and values the meaningful participation of its children and young people. Our democratically elected members listen to and recognise the issues that are most important to young people, ensuring their voices are heard by decision makers. We exist to provide a national platform for young people to discuss the issues that are important to them, and campaign to effect the change they wish to see.

I am a former member of the Education and Lifelong Learning committee within SYP. And we, as a committee, spent time researching and drawing up two surveys on the topic of additional support for learners. Both surveys were made available and promoted through social media and the SYP website. Furthermore, we conducted various focus groups within in our local areas. I now sit on the Social Justice Committee.

In July of this year, SYP took it’s first trip to the Western Isles as a full membership to celebrate our 17th birthday and conduct our AGM. The AGM is one of the most important dates in the SYP calendar. At this Sitting, not only did we debate policy and discuss issues important to our constituents, but we also elected our Board of Trustees and Conveners for the next year. This year, we’ve been busy with our campaigning work, launching our campaign Speak Your Mind in January 2016. We took great pride in our research into young people’s awareness and experience of mental health information, support and services. We collected the views of over 1,400 young people. This is one of the biggest pieces of research ever carried out into young people’s mental health in Scotland.

I have been afforded the incredible opportunity to represent Scotland’s young people at the 8th Commonwealth Youth Parliament (CYP) sitting which takes place in Victoria, British Columbia. The CYP is an annual event that is held in a different Commonwealth regions each year. Up to 66 young people from across the Commonwealth have a unique opportunity to participate in educational sessions led by experienced parliamentary officials, take part in parliamentary proceedings including Question Period, and debate and vote on legislation and motions. I will be sure to keep a blog detailing my experience of my time at the CYP.

Finally, I had the pleasure of spending an hour in the company of Brendan O’Hara MP for Argyll & Bute discussing SYP’s Lead the Way Manifesto for 2016-2021. The consultation process began in June 2015 until January 2016 and It received 72,744 responses from young people aged 12-25 across Scotland.