Scottish Youth Parliament “knocking shop” for youngsters – says former chairman

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By Paul Thornton

THE former chairman of the Scottish Youth Parliament has branded the organisation a “talking and knocking shop” for youngsters obsessed with boozing, sex and drugs.

With a Scottish Government grant of £250,000 every year the SYP has a substantial budget to help feed the views of 14 to 26 year olds across the country into executive policy.

But the former head of the group, Kieran Collins, 26, has said that weekend get-togethers for the 150 or so members were riddled with underage drinking, sexual activity and even drugs.

The former law student claims that he witnessed kids drinking bottles of vodka before vomiting in the loo, scurrying across hotel rooftops, and going missing for hours on end only to turn-up smashed and half-naked.

He blasted: “What is it in the last 10 years that they have actually achieved apart from a talking shop and a knocking shop for young people?

“It is a bad representation of young people rather than a credit to them.

“My first reactions were quite positive because I never really knew what was going on. But as time went on I began to think ‘what the hell is this?’.

“Why are we wasting millions of pounds of tax payers’ money when we are just sitting around having a laugh?”

During his time in the organisation Collins went to seven “sittings” with the SYP and said each was as debauched as the next.

He was first elected in June 2007 as an MSYP before being made chair a year later.

Collins said: “My first sitting was in Dundee on June 16 and 17, 2007. For most of the new members it was pretty quiet but at that sitting MSYPs were drunk and playing spin the bottle.

“I only found out later when I was chair and one of the people who had felt uncomfortable came to me and complained about it.

“I never got the chance to do anything about it.

“I think the next sitting was Orkney in July. That was crazy. We were all sitting in a youth hostel, people were just blatantly drinking. One had a full bottle of vodka and under age people were drinking.”

Following similar nights in Edinburgh and Paisley Kieran said the group had a sitting for the group’s AGM in Stirling.

The MSYPs stayed at Stirling University’s halls of residence over the two day sitting in June 2008. But Kieran said that he was left shocked when a MSYP disappeared.

He said: “One member got so smashed that they went missing. Youth workers were looking for this person.

“He was found in a room in the university halls that we had not paid for. He was found in that room unconscious and completely naked apart from his boxers.

“He didn’t know how he got in that room and he didn’t know where his clothes were. All because he was so smashed.”

Collins and a fellow SYP member, Daniel Robertson, were then suspended from the board over a rowdy night at a hotel in Hamilton in September 2008.

He said that complaints were made after one group of youngsters decided to host a party in their hotel room.

And he said his roommate at the event had been smoking hash while surrounded by bottles of Budweiser and Carling.

Collins said: “There was plenty of bevy in my room and there was green being smoked by my roommate. He was high and steaming. The hash had already been smoked and there were about 30 bottles in the room.”

He said that same member had shown up at a meeting of the SYP board at the organisation’s headquarters in Edinburgh with a bloody nose – after taking cocaine.

Following his suspension from the SYP board, Collins remained an MSYP and was allowed to attend the next sitting in Aberdeen in November 2008.

Despite reports of the boozy goings on at Hamilton, Collins insists that his final sitting was not a subdued affair.

He said: “Drunks had got out of their window and they were running about the roof and someone had obviously seen one of them and called the police.”

Collins was last week fined £270 at Edinburgh Sheriff Court after he admitted handling stolen goods.

He had been reported by the SYP after a lap top issued to him for use as chair was not handed back in.

Now he said he has been left devastated by his involvement in the group which has left him with a criminal record and little prospect of a career in politics.

He said: “What can I do now? How many jobs can you get with a conviction of dishonesty?

“I have not worked since I was suspended. I’m sitting in this house trying to hide away, trying to figure out a way to set the story straight.

“Whenever I try to get up and go something comes back from this organisation, this organisation has ruined my life.”

A spokesman for the SYP said: “The Scottish Youth Parliament considers the welfare and safety of young people to be paramount; the organisation operates a stringent ‘no alcohol’ policy at all of its events alongside policies covering other aspects of behaviour, all clearly outlined within the code of conduct to which members must adhere.

“Whilst at SYP Sittings, the duty of care for young people resides with their home Local Authority and all delegations must be accompanied by at least one support worker, though a nominated contact person from SYP is available to provide additional support to these workers.

“Any breaches of the Code of Conduct which are reported to the SYP are treated extremely seriously and, subject to investigation, can lead to expulsion from the organisation.”

Fellow former MSYP Samantha Harvey, 19, said: “That’s all true, from what I can remember I saw a good few bottles of vodka at the Orkney sitting. And there were people with two litre bottles of coke, which had obviously been mixed with vodka. I was like ‘oh my God’.

“At Stirling they were looking for that boy from 1am one morning until 3pm the next afternoon.”

Grampian Police confirmed they had to deal with the incident at the Aberdeen sitting.

A spokesman for the force said: “We were called in the early hours of November 16, 2008 to the Station Hotel in Guild Street, Aberdeen. It was to do with people climbing out a window of the top floor to the roof. We did speak to the person who was doing it and nobody was charged.”

4 COMMENTS

  1. Shamefully, I have to agree with all the above. What the hell is the Scottish Youth Parliament all about, a bloody embarrassment for young people and the country alike.
    In today’s society, money is tight. To think it is being wasted on fancy venues for young people to have parties is shameful. I suggest and end to the “organisation”.

    As for led by young people, run by young people – what a joke. It is run by a team of staff who patronize the young people, as if they were teachers.

    Embarrassed member

  2. Sounds like good practice for the real thing. I’m not sure what people expect young to do when locked away in a hotel for the weekend – to study great political speeches?

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