Young People

 KSI_award.JPGAs one of the youngest MPs in Westminster, it seems fitting that my website should have a page dedicated to young people. When I speak to young people in schools in East Dunbartonshire, a real sense of enthusiasm and interest in politics comes across. However, when it comes to getting involved in politics – be it through political parties, charities or other means – it seems interest often starts to wane.

Is this because young people really don’t care about the future of politics in this country? Of course not! Often the problem can be knowing where to start, how to get involved, or how to figure out your own opinion on the big issues such as Iraq and the environment.

This page is intended as a starting point for the young people of East Dunbartonshire; an introduction to the possibilities that are out there for making real change happen. It is also a call to action – if you see a problem, look for a solution; if you have an opinion, make sure it’s heard. In other words, don’t hang around – get involved!

Kirkintilloch Skatepark

Kirkintilloch Skatepark offers an excellent example of how young people can come together to make a difference to their community and achieve their goals at the same time. A group of young people in Kirkintilloch decided in 2003 they wanted to go about setting a skatepark built in the town, so they set up the Kirkintilloch Skatepark Initiative (KSI). They lobbied politicians – including me – and they raised £500,000 through grants and fundraising events in order to pay for the work needed to build the park.

Find out how KSI raised the money to build a skatepark.

The park was finally completed and opened in 2009, and it is now a much-loved and well-used facility for the young people of the area.

Fore more information, please see the news stories below.

Jo’s news stories on Kirkintilloch Skatepark

18/12/09 Kirky Skatepark gets recognition in Parliament

10/07/09 Jo ‘delighted’ Skatepark is underway

12/12/08 Jo praises skaters over BBC filming

29/11/07 Jo welcomes KSI to Parliament for funding boost

29/03/06 Local campaigner gets KSI recognition at London ceremony

27/09/05 Jo gives Skatepark plans lottery boost

Young people getting involved

03/11/10 Jo congratulates local student on award to aid youth culture

01/11/10 Jo visits Bearsden Boys’ Brigade

15/10/10 Jo urges local young people to get involved in politics

16/09/10 Milngavie pupils get a visit from Jo

02/08/10 Milngavie girls’ fundraising success

15/07/10 Jo welcomes Bearsden boys to Westminster

21/06/10 Turnbull High pupils meet Jo in Parliament

04/03/10 Jo urges young voters to get registered

17/09/09 Local MP and school pupils on Auschwitz visit

11/09/09 Jo raises the flag for Girlguides’ centenary

18/08/09 Jo debates with Youth Councillors

11/05/09 Jo applauds Auchinairn asthma campaign

05/05/09 Facebook meeting a success

30/04/09 Local young entrepreneurs win awards

24/04/09 Swinson using Facebook to meet constituents

26/03/09 Future journalists are born at Lenzie Academy

10/03/09 Swinson supports Youth Leading the Way

10/03/09 Jo meets St. Joseph’s pupils

05/03/09 St. Ninian’s pupils meet Jo Swinson

13/02/09 Boclair Academy comes to Westminster

20/11/08 Green pupils a credit to Millersneuk Primary

07/11/08 Jo praises Bishopbriggs Academy’s Arctic explorer

22/10/08 Bishopbriggs ‘Haggeye’ welcomed to Westminster

09/09/08 Jo Swinson welcomes Douglas Academy pupils to Westminster

28/08/08 Bearsden pupils quiz Jo

17/07/08 Jo supports disabled young campaigners

12/05/08 Jo urges local primary schools to enter national technology competition

25/04/08 Atholl pupils getting into the Fairtrade habit

23/04/08 Young East Dunbartonshire BME Politicians Inspired by Westminster Visit

11/04/08 Jo Swinson set for Liberal Youth launch

27/03/08 Auchinairn pupils welcome Jo

14/02/08 Jo takes up Bishopbriggs pupil’s classroom invitation

25/01/08 Lenzie pupils given political insights by Jo

22/01/08 Jo rejoins Milngavie Capt at Westminster

11/01/08 Lenzie pupils quiz Jo for Higher projects

19/12/07 East Dunbartonshire Youth Senate quiz Jo on youth amenities

19/12/07 Jo praises green action at Bearsden school

01/11/07 Torrance Primary pupils quiz Jo

03/10/07 Jo gives Bearsden Academy top marks

01/10/07 Milngavie Primary pupils welcome Jo Swinson

25/09/07 Clober pupils getting into the recycling habit

11/09/07 Douglas Academy welcomes back Jo

03/09/07 Jo praises democratic ethos at St Joseph’s

11/07/07 Young Question Time audience grill Jo

22/06/07 Jo meets pupils at Turnbull High

30/03/07 Easter recess allows Jo local school visits

16/03/07 Jo encourages first-time voters at Bishopbriggs Academy

12/02/07 Boclair pupils get a taste of politics

27/09/06 Jo Swinson praises pupil elections at Killermont Primary

14/09/06 Kirkintilloch High pupils get a taste of politics from Jo

09/08/06 ‘Help Yourselves’ – Jo tells East Dunbartonshire young people

18/07/06 Young Lenzie entrepreneurs commended by Jo

19/05/06 Jo welcomes youth election results

30/03/06 Jo pilots new democracy project with Westerton Primary pupils

21/02/06 Jo addresses Thomas Muir and Lenzie pupils

16/12/05 Turnbull High welcomes Jo Swinson

12/12/05 Jo Swinson calls on Parliament to encourage young voters

05/12/05 Back to school for Jo Swinson

03/10/05 Jo’s prize visit for Thomas Muir pupils

28/09/05 Jo quizzed by S3 pupils

Votes at 16

12/05/09 Value young people and let them vote

30/01/07 3,000 East Dunbartonshire young people to miss out on Scottish elections

25/01/07 Jo seeks Parliamentary backing for votes at 16

23/01/07 18-year-old challenger to McConnell should pave the way for younger voters

06/11/06 Lowering the voting age will reconnect young people with politics

Educational Resources

The Internet has some great educational resources on offer. The following websites cover some crucial aspects of politics in Britain and are designed to be accessible to young and old alike. Politics need not be complicated!

  • – A site run by the Electoral Commision to encourage young people to get involved in democracy. Has some great resources as well as information about voters and voting.
  • – Website of the electoral reform society, an organisation dedicated campaigning for the widespread implementation of Single Transferable Voting. Explains the characteristics of different voting systems and outlines the case for Proportional Representation.
  • – Fantastic site which lets users view their MP’s voting record, alerts them when they speak in Parliament and keeps a concise record of the business of both houses. Also features a handy glossary for getting to grips with Parliamentary terminology
  • – Website of the Prime Minister’s Office. Includes some good educational information on the Prime Minister and Cabinets’ roles as well as guides to legislation and government.
  • – Website run by the Parliamentary Education Unit explaining what goes on inside Westminster


Votes at 16

The time is right to lower the voting age to 16. The lives of 16 and 17-year olds are as rich and varied as at any other age, and involve considerable responsibilities and complex decisions that are unrecognised in their current democratic rights. I have recently called on the Government to use the Electoral Administration Bill to legislate to lower the voting age to 16 for all public elections in the UK.

Many youth-led organisations, such as Votes at 16, have been campaigning for a reduction in the voting age.

The Votes at 16 Campaign is targeted at the Government, but also seeks to influence Parliament, the devolved institutions, the Electoral Commission, local councils and councillors, the media, academics and the general public. The campaign believes that the most effective case for change is to be made by young people themselves and young people led organisations will be at the heart of the campaign. To find out more go to

Young People Now – Positive Images Campaign

Young People Now holds annual positive image awards, which are open to youth groups, young people, local authorities and media outlets, and aim to “celebrate positive portrayals of young people in the media, and proactivity among youth groups and councils in promoting affirmative images of young people.” To find out more, visit their website via the link below.

Edinburgh teenager Josie Vallely has been causing a stir as a young, energetic and outspoken campaigner on environmental issues. Josie has received praise from Bob Geldof for her charity work and was recently crowned CosmoGIRL 2005 after caring for African refugees in her own home. Check out Josie’s site for adivice on doing your bit to look after the environment:

‘Help Yourselves’ is a Here to Help awards scheme being run by Save the Children and British Gas, which aims to get young people involved in dynamic and lasting community projects. Awards of up to £3,000 are on offer, with 91 new projects around the country already having received funding. For more information, including how to apply for their awards scheme, follow the link to their website below.

Junction 49

Junction 49 is a social networking web site like Facebook, specifically designed for young people aged 16-25 who want to make a difference by volunteering. Young people are able to create their own volunteering opportunities by setting up projects around issues that really matter to them. If they don’t want to set up a project of their own they can join and offer to help on existing projects created by their peers.

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