THERE has never been a more testing and uncertain time to be a young person. The Westminster-driven cost of living crisis means the majority of us struggle to keep a roof over our head and put food on the table.

The rise in transphobia and homophobia makes LGBT+ young people vulnerable, and the climate crisis is rapidly worsening, leaving us all feeling anxious for the future. But our collective outlook doesn’t have to be this grim.

Young people across Scotland share a common desire for change and hold significant authority in shaping the political landscape of Scotland, both here and now, and also as we look towards the future.

We have consistently played a key role in holding politicians to account, holding their feet to the fire within political parties, and more widely across the system. The under-22s free bus travel policy, now a crucial part of so many young people’s lives, and taken up by thousands, originated from the Scottish Young Greens.

Campaigners from climate movements like Teach the Future have directed the government climate education policy that Greens in government set in motion. Organisations like the Scottish Youth Parliament have unparalleled access to the highest decision-makers in the land, and have used this wisely. These are opportunities that every young person in Scotland must have access to.

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We all have an important opportunity to shape the political output to do all we can to make the lives better for young people now, and those who come after us. Now we want to change the narrative. Of course we can help secure a better future by driving forward independence, proving that young people can bring a fresh wave of optimism and enthusiasm to the movement. Those of us who are now in further and higher education will miss out on the benefits of EU membership, from EU research funding to the Erasmus project that gave so many students a fighting start.

Greens in government have a unique opportunity to deliver policies that support and protect young people.

Green MSP Ross Greer recently passed amendments to the Children’s Care and Justice Bill designed to regulate secure transport, protecting some of the most vulnerable children in our society. We are delivering a holistic and ambitious package of education reform, not only bringing qualifications and assessments out of the Victorian era and into the 21st century, but making improvements to school uniform guidance, additional support needs delivery and guidance on relationships, sexual health and parenthood along the way. It was Greens who secured the trial of peak-time rail fare removal, and have allowed young people across the country to take more than a million bus journeys for free.

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I am particularly proud of the Scottish Greens’ record of standing up for our young people, both in terms of the policies we successfully deliver and also because we have a solid history of selecting and electing young people to internal positions, and elected office.

We have a fantastic team of young councillors right across the country from Glasgow and Edinburgh to Orkney, and have elected young greens to parliament in the last two Holyrood elections. But sadly the same can’t be said across the board.

Young people bring a wealth of talent to the table, offering insightful and energetic perspectives, and should be encouraged to stand for elected office. For too long, young people have been ignored, or put down being told we lack experience or don’t know what we’re talking about.

We are always told “young people are the future”.

Yes, we are, but we are also the present and should be treated and respected as though we are.

Cameron Garrett
Co-convenor, Scottish Young Greens