By LOUISE THOMASON
THE TWO candidates newly elected to the Scottish Youth Parliament are Nicole Mouat from Scalloway and Nethan Watson from Lerwick.
MSYPs Nicole, 15, currently attending Scalloway Junior High School and Nethan, 13, from the Anderson High School, will replace Ryan Smith and Natasha Lindsey as Shetland’s representatives at the Scottish Youth Parliament, working to represent the views of young people in Shetland at a local and national level.
Having both been involved in Scottish Youth Voice meetings, where young people discuss and debate issues that are important to them, the two wanted to be more involved in representing young people.
The elections, which took place last Wednesday, saw 525 young people cast their votes online. The results were announced at Isleburgh on Friday by Tavish Scott.
SIC youth empowerment and participation worker Martin Summers said the process was quite nerve-wracking for the candidates. “I think they were quite nervous waiting to hear the results but now that they know they’re quite excited.”
Set up in 1999 as a forum for young people to air their views and communicate them to political leaders, the youth parliament consists of nearly 200 elected young people between 14 and 25. Members meet at least four times a year to discuss issues affecting young people and to make sure they are involved in decisions. These can be on issues of national and local importance.
MSYPs act as a link between the Scottish Youth Parliament and young people in their area. Meetings of the youth group Youth Voice, which take place at a general and executive level, allow young people to put their opinions and ideas to the MSYPs which are then expressed at the SYP.
Already the MSYPs have been involved in an executive youth voice meeting which was held on Sunday where there were guest speakers from Viking Energy and Shetland Arts.
Those attending got to hear information about the windfarm debate and Mareel, both important issues which young people feel strongly about, but however do not often get the opportunity to have a say in.
Nicole said she felt it was really important for young people to have a voice. “Young people should have a bigger say in decisions and not be spoken for by adults,” she said.
The pair have also spent time with the NHS webpage consultancy board, where their input helped to make the webpage easier to use and more accessible, especially from the point of view of young people.
Another of their jobs as MSYPs is being involved in the Youth Bank. This is a grants-based initiative whereby applicants for small projects can apply for funding. Nicole and Nethan were involved in looking at the applications and assessing which ones should receive grants.
The MSYPs plan to hold surgeries with MSP Tavish Scott, where they can air views and opinions, and hope to be able to arrange a road show of youth clubs to ensure that young people’s ideas are expressed. This was part of Nethan’s manifesto.
He said: “I’d like to be able to go around to youth clubs and hear from young people there, find out what young people think.”
Speaking of their task ahead, Nicole said the next two years would be challenging but really worthwhile. She said: “I’m a bit nervous but it will be fun too.”
Nethan said young people should be encouraged to have a say in bigger issues. He said: “More people should be involved in this and have fun too, like we’re about to.”
The next event will be the general meeting which will take place on 23rd January, and the youth parliament will sit sometime in the New Year with dates yet to be confirmed. This will be on the mainland.
In the meantime young people can contact their MSYPs through their personal email addresses, which will be set up, and can get more information from the website, www.syp.org.uk and from the Young Scot website, www.youngscot.org