Reece represents Clydesdale at Youth Parliament

The Scottish Youth Parliament, set up to represent the views of young people from all over Scotland, has its 59th sitting this weekend in Galashiels.
Reece Harding MSYPReece Harding MSYP
Reece Harding MSYP

And among the Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament speaking up for others is Reece Harding.

“We are going to Galashiels for the conference where we deal with issues that are ongoing, things that affect young people’s lives,” explained Reece.

The 15-year-old is still a pupil at Carluke High School, but he has a busy schedule listening to the views of other young people and being involved with youth work.

The weekend conference will launch its new policy manifesto for the next five years, Lead the Way; and it will also hear a report on Speak your Mind, chosen in October as its national campaign for 2016, raising awareness of mental health issues.

Holyrood MSPs will also be taking part in a hustings session, ahead of the Scottish Parliament elections.

And motions drawn up by the young people will be put to the Youth Parliament. These range from a call to a Charter for a Tobacco Free Generation, to issues around asylum seekers, to gender marketing of job vacancies, all complete with background papers.

And Reece is involved with one, put forward by the Transport, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee, calling for all communities to have affordable and reliable public transport.

“Bus travel is a vital lifeline for those who depend on it – which includes more than half of young people and students,” says the motion.

And it concludes: “To put it simply: a community which cannot move is a community which cannot grow.”

Reece has been involved with the Scottish Youth Parliament for over a year, and his term of office finishes next year, when he can decide whether to stand again.

“It is absolutely fantastic,” he said. “Some of the work we do is amazing.”

Reece, and Megan Russell from Lanark Grammar School, represent the Clydesdale area on the Parliament.

Reece, whose constituency office is at Universal Connections, in Carluke, got involved through his interest in youth work. He was approached by a youth worker and then joined the Youth Council, which meets every month to discuss issues affecting young people in the Carluke area.

And he then learned about the Scottish Youth Parliament and decided to stand for election.

“I started campaigning, and went round the different schools in Clydesdale, and on March 14 last year I got a phone call to say I had been elected,” said Reece.

“It is such an experience.

“It is amazing to have this opportunity to represent young people’s voices.”