The National:

THE next parliamentary term is the biggest in Scottish history - it's when we can help our communities recover from the pandemic and move forward together towards a brighter future as an independent European country.

To achieve that we need to elect as many SNP MSPs as possible and despite what the polls tell us, nothing can be taken for granted and it may very well be the regional seats - just like in 2011 - that gets us over the line in securing a majority government.

In 2011, Annabelle Ewing secured a list seat for the SNP in Mid Scotland & Fife and I know we can do it again.

I'm putting myself forward for the Mid Scotland & Fife list because I believe I can make a difference. Not only in helping Scotland towards independence - which 20 polls in a row demonstrate is what the Scottish people want - but in helping us build a better and fairer country.

Independence isn't the end, it's just the beginning, and we will all have our own view of what an independent Scotland should strive to achieve.

To me, I want that independent Scotland to drive towards that goal of eliminating child poverty, to greatly improve our mental health support, and to enable and encourage more people to responsibly access the outdoors so they can reap the mental and physical health benefits of doing so.

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I grew up and live in Glenrothes, I work in Perth, and I studied for five years at the University of Stirling. I know Mid Scotland & Fife, it's my home, and I want to make a difference to the people of Clackmannanshire, Perth & Kinross, Stirling, and Fife, living here.

To lift more children out of poverty we need to ensure the households they are living in have enough money to thrive. That's why I believe the Real Living Wage scheme is so important - it's about ensuring employees are paid a wage which is independently calculated to reflect living costs, going beyond the UK government's minimum wage. The Scottish Government supports the Real Living Wage and I'm proud my hometown of Glenrothes is Scotland's first Real Living Wage Town.

If elected as an MSP I would do everything I could to make Clackmannanshire, Fife, Perth & Kinross, and Stirling, Scotland's first Real Living Wage Regions. It would do so much for people across this parliamentary region and would help lift more families out of poverty.

Mental health is something that has affected me personally, I know what it's like to go through depression, I have friends and family who have suffered from ill mental health, and I want to help the estimated one in three Scots who are affected by mental illness every year.

There are so many actions the Scottish Government has taken to improve Scotland's mental health - such as appointing a dedicated mental health minister, devising a 10-year strategy, and putting record funding into mental health services - but even more needs to be done. Mental health needs to remain a priority for the government over the next five years and we need fresh ideas about how we improve the country's mental wellbeing.

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As an MSP, as well as working closely with our mental health charities and services, I would hold regular public meetings, over Zoom at first, to listen to the views and ideas of constituents in each of the different regions of Mid Scotland & Fife and take those views back to Holyrood.

Last summer showed us that more Scots have taken an interest in our incredible outdoors. It may be temporary due to the pandemic but this is a chance to engage more people with their surroundings and to improve their physical and mental health while we're at it.

We need to make it easier for people to access the outdoors responsibly while ensuring local communities aren't disturbed by crowds of visitors - we were all sad to see a minority of people recklessly blocking roads and leaving behind a trail of destruction at numerous beauty spots around the country.

The Scottish Rural Tourism Infrastructure fund was set up by the Scottish Government pre-Covid to improve facilities and access to our numerous beauty spots but I believe this now needs to be expanded to help more communities cope with the rise in visitor numbers to their area.

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We also need to engage more young people with the outdoors. There are activities schools participate in but it can depend on the individual school and pupils' participation in programmes such as the Duke of Edinburgh Award. But I would love to have the opportunity to work with schools across Mid Scotland & Fife - with involvement from outdoor organisations and charities - to get more young people active and to help them build up their skills and knowledge in hillwalking and seeing more of our incredible country.

I set up a website last year called Mountains Mend Minds all about promoting the mental health benefits of hillwalking and getting outside and I'm also a proud ambassador of the country-wide Mountains for the Mind campaign. 

Scotland is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful countries in the world and I believe the more Scots experiencing our incredible outdoor spaces - whether that's the Fife Coastal Path, the Ochils, or the Munros of Stirlingshire and Highland Perthshire - the higher our country's wellbeing will be.

Ross Cunningham has put his name forward to represent the SNP for the Mid Scotland & Fife regional list. He has also worked previously for SNP MSPs Ash Denham and Emma Harper, as well as Fife MPs Douglas Chapman and Peter Grant.