Six young people from across the Western Isles are currently campaigning to become Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYPs).
The Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP) is the democratically elected voice of Scotland’s young people.
It provides a national platform for young people to discuss issues important to them and affect the change they wish to see.
SYP was influential in helping secure votes for 16 and 17-year-olds in Scotland and has run campaigns raising awareness on mental health (Speak Your Mind) and equal marriage (Love Equally).
The SYP’s current campaign, All Aboard, focuses on public transport. MSYPs will be looking at accessibility, bus standards and reducing fares across Scotland, aiming to drive change in these key areas.
Every two years, elections to the SYP are held.
Young people aged 14 to 25 from all across Scotland stand as candidates, representing all 32 local authorities and several national voluntary organisations.
This year, the voting period will take place between Friday 15th March and Friday 28th March.
Young people in the Western Isles will be able to cast their vote to elect an MSYP to represent them – the Western Isles has two MSYPs and there are six candidates standing for election (see the candidates below).
Young people can cast their votes using their Young Scot card via the Young Scot e-voting system: elections.youngscot.org
Follow the candidates’ campaigns on social media where they will be using the SYP Election hashtag: #Stand4SYP
For more information, see the SYP Election site: elections.syp.org.uk/elections/2/constituency/10/
Kelly is from Harris, she says: “I decided to run for the Scottish Youth Parliament as I would like to empower young people and help them use their voices to speak out about the issues they face, especially living in a remote area.
“I believe it is important for young people’s views to be accounted for as they have the most impact on the future of the Western Isles.
“I am enthusiastic and not afraid to stand up and express the views of young people in my constituency and will be 110% committed in doing everything that I feasibly can to ensure that they are listened to and respected.
“The issues that are important to me: equalities, poverty and income equality and transportation.”
Andrew Muncaster is from Benbecula, he says: “I have a huge passion for politics and I am standing as an MSYP to properly represent the views of young people from across all of the Western Isles and be a voice for those who feel excluded from decision making.
“I am easy to talk to, hold the utmost respect for others and will put the interests of my constituents first to ensure they are fairly represented.
“People in rural areas have specific needs, so I will stand up for young people working in fishing and crofting, pupils who have limited opportunities because of where they live and all young people who struggle to get adequate services.
“The issues that are important to me: education, the environment and rural affairs.”
Maria is from South Uist, she says: “I am standing as an MSYP as I would like to represent the young people in my local area and this is a great opportunity to engage my interest in politics.
“I would love to have an impact in decision making and see a change both in my area and nationally.
“Through my experience as a Year of Young People Ambassador, a Human Rights Defender and my involvement locally with FilmG and youth theatre, I have learned that in one country people grow up differently, helping me to listen to other young people and be more considerate of their views.
“The issues that are important to me: equalities, health and wellbeing and transportation.”
Sakshi Ortchison is from Lewis, she says: “I am standing as an MSYP because I feel that there are a lot of issues I would like to help tackle, such as health and wellbeing for young people.
“There are other challenges that need to be addressed such as youth employment.
“I want to help create better options for the future of young people in our communities, engaging with young people and representing their views locally and nationally.
“I am an approachable and open-minded person who will listen to the opinions of others and I am keen to represent young people in all of the Western Isles.
“The issues that are important to me: equalities, rights and democracy.
Alexander Morrison is from Lewis, he says: “For the past two years I have worked hard in my role as an MSYP.
“This term, if elected, I would focus on mental health, an issue that needs to be addressed in the Western Isles.
“Young people need to know that it’s okay not to be okay and must have a safe space to talk with people they trust.
“Together we can make a difference. I am approachable, friendly and open-minded and I would be honoured to represent the Western Isles again.
“By voting for me, you’ll be voting for someone who won’t stop until our views are heard.
“The issues that are important to me: education, youth work and culture and media.”
Cameron Thompson is from Lewis, he says: “I am standing as an MSYP because I believe that young people across the Western Isles deserve a strong and experienced voice to represent their concerns at a national level.
“Young people and our opinions are often overlooked and dismissed, for no reason other than our age.
“As someone who has had success in making my own voice heard in mainstream politics, I would love the opportunity to do the same for other young people across the Western Isles and to make sure that all of our issues, opinions, and concerns are taken seriously and represented by a progressive, passionate, and experienced voice.
“The issues that are important to me: equalities, education and health and wellbeing.”