East Lothian MSYPs

East Lothian Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYPs)

My name is Finlay McIlwraith and I serve young people in East Lothian as a member of the Scottish Youth Parliament(MSYP) along with the Constituency’s other MSYP Katie Fairfull.

My East Lothian Constituency mirrors that of the Scottish Parliament constituency of the same name; it includes Haddington, Dunbar, North Berwick and part of Musselburgh. Olivia Brown and Callum Gibson also serve part of East Lothian as MSYPs for Midlothian North and Musselburgh.

The Scottish Youth Parliament was formed in 1999 is a youth-led, democratic organisation that aims to represent Scotland’s young people. SYP is made up of around 166 democratically-elected representatives aged 14–25 from across Scotland.The Scottish Youth Parliament is based around the UN conventions on the rights of the child and specifically article 12: respect for children’s views.We believe it is crucial that young people are involved in decision making in areas which will affect us.  Representatives are known as Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament. Most  MSYPs are elected as constituency MSYPs for different areas of Scotland. Around 22 MSYPs represent Voluntary Organisations such as The Boys Brigade, Scouts Scotland, LGBT Youth Scotland and Haggeye instead of constituencies.

You can find out who your MSYPs are here – www.syp.org.uk/members/find-your-msyp

SYP Elections take place every 2 years with the next one being held in November 2023. MSYPs may sometimes need to step down to focus on other endeavours. A resignation triggers a by-election which is how I was elected (In January 2023).

MSYPs join committees. There are 10 committees covering a variety of different subject areas, such as  Health and Wellbeing, Transport,Environment,Rural Affairs(TERA), Justice and Education. I am a member of the Jobs,Economy and Fair Work Committee. Every year, newly formed Subject Committees meet with their newly elected Convenor and Deputy Convenor to make initial plans on what they would like to focus on throughout the year. They meet at each of the two SYP Sittings each year. These committees members decide what areas they would like to focus on and can start campaigns. Many engage with their counterpart Committees at the Scottish Parliament,the Scottish Government or other charities, carry out consultation work and work with guest speakers.The responsibility for arranging and leading these committees as well as speaking on their behalf as given to convenors, with assistance from deputy convenors(I am deputy convenor for my committee.) who can also substitute for the convenor in their absence. Every committee convenor is a part of the convenors group, this group decides on things like which policy consultations SYP responds to.

SYP will usually have multiple person meetings per year, this year there have been a series of smaller meetings across Scotland in March, we will have a sitting and July and in the autumn. Members propose motions to be added to the SYP policy log (which can be accessed on our website) which will be debated and voted on at the sitting.This is also where MSYPs will launch campaign priorities and it gives us an opportunity to see other MSYPS to find out about the work they’re doing. 

Once we agree on our campaigns all MSYPs are expected to participate and aid campaigning on these issues.Examples of high profile SYP campaigns include Votes at 16 and free bus travel for young people, both of which have now been introduced.Our current campaign focuses range from the Right to food to the climate crisis.

MSYPs do a lot of work in the local community. As we are representing those in our areas it is crucial to speak with and consult young people in our area to form a picture of what we should be prioritising and saying behalf of young people. MSYPs meet with local decisions to talk about what we think can be done to improve young people’s lives and prospects as well as national campaign priorities. We have meetings with Local MSPs,Councillors and may try to give input to groups such as Community Councils, Areas Partnerships and local groups focusing on young people.

Hi! I’m Olivia Brown, and as Finlay mentioned previously I represent the constituency of Midlothian North and Musselburgh. As well as being an MSYP, I am also a trustee and director of SYP.

One of the Scottish Youth Parliament’s most unique attributes is the fact that it is completely youth-led. This means that young people are completely in charge. Although we have a staff team, our board of directors and trustees is made up of MSYPs aged 16-25, elected into these positions by all the other MSYPs in the membership. They have legal responsibilities and approve all of the decisions made by SYP. The board is made up of the Chair, Vice Chair and 6 other trustees, each responsible for a different area of SYP. The board as a whole looks after the organisations finances, the problems it faces and makes sure it is compliant with charity law (among many other things). It is incredibly important that young people can be trustees, as they can make sure that an organisation is truly representative of us and our needs, especially if that organisation is dedicated to young people in particular

Throughout the last year, I have been responsible for the running of SYP’s campaigns and events. This has meant that I have helped our staff plan out when different campaigns will be launched and what they look like. I also had oversight over the sittings, pop-ups and gatherings that SYP held and worked closely with staff to make sure they were the best they could be. Being a trustee has come with lots of fun opportunities – I’ve spoken on panels and made speeches, spent many hours inside the Scottish Parliament and even met the King!

Every MSYPs must have support workers, they help the MSYP manage their workload, figure out their priorities, help them get to events and ensure their safeguarding. East Lothian MSYPs are supported by Caroline Davis from East Lothian Connected Communities.

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