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Welcome to your vote

Electoral Commission’s ‘Welcome to Your Vote’ week

With the Electoral Commission’s ‘Welcome to Your Vote’ week campaign kicking off today (30 January 2023), I would like to talk about politics.

Politics effects everyone, it’s part of the reason I chose to become a MSYP – a Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament.

But what is politics? Well, defining politics is a lot harder than it sounds. The definition of politics is actually contested, but for you and I, politics is the activities associated with decision making and the actions of those in power such as the distribution of resources or status.

Politics are important to me because I wanted to be able to impact the world around me and make changes for young people, and politics is a big part of that.

Politics is why I, along with many of my peers, don’t get paid the same wage to our older counterparts even if we do the same work. Politics is why schools are underfunded, and politics is why the NHS is underfunded. Politics is what makes decisions about the world around us. It often feels like we can’t fix it, like it is all a massive mess. But we can try, we can make sure that we are being heard while this is happening.

SYP (Scottish Youth Parliament) is a charity and is politically impartial, but it has a role in influencing politics and political decision makers. One example of how we have the opportunity to influence political decision makers this year – the Scottish Government commissioned us to investigate and evaluate community based mental health supports by gathering the views of young people, parents and carers. Our report should hopefully be completed in early next year – we have already sent the Scottish Government our key findings and a draft report. These findings will be used by the Scottish Government to decide how and if they want to provide more funding to these supports and if there is anything they can do to encourage them to improve.

We can’t make decision makers do as we say, but we can make sure our voices are heard which does have an impact. I would encourage all young people to think about the issues that matter to them. There are ways you can be heard about these issues and you can influence decision makers. The Orkney Youth Forum, which I currently chair, is one of many ways you can be heard – if you would like to learn more about us here is our website:

I am always happy to hear direct from other young people. If you would like support to get involved in projects or groups you can get in touch with me at