Mel Maclaren

I’m 28 years old from Edinburgh. I work as a primary school teacher. I work part-time because I have a little boy who is three.

I was delighted to be given the opportunity as an assembly member because I work in education. I have to teach about current political topics and what’s going on in Scotland, where we see ourselves in the future, and the historic events that have shaped Scotland today. I was given the opportunity to bring my ideas and my enthusiasm to the table in the Citizens’ Assembly and I want positive change for my own child and for the children that I teach each year.

The most memorable moments were in Glasgow at the second and third weekend, when we were getting into the meaty stuff and were deciding what was important for Scotland. We all had conflicting views because we all come from a range of different backgrounds. It was really important that everybody’s ideas were put forward because we all had so many great ideas. It was important we narrowed these down to the key recommendations for the future of Scotland.

I’ve learned a lot. Now when I’m in conversation I feel much more knowledgeable about our place in the world, in Europe and Great Britain. I’ve learned a huge amount from talking to people from different areas of Scotland and how they live. And I suppose about poverty as well. I’m not naive about poverty because I know in particular parts of Edinburgh there’s lots of it. But speaking to people from certain areas, deprived areas, they were talking about how some people in their neighbourhood live and I was just a bit like ‘I can’t believe things like that happen not that far away from where I live.’ It has broadened my horizons and opened my eyes to what Scotland is actually like and what Scotland’s all about.

I want there to be enough opportunities created in employment or further education for children and young adults, especially because we’re going to be in the middle of a very, very big recession soon on the back of the pandemic. For me it’s very important that we have lots of opportunities for employment not even just for young people but in general. I think the Scottish Government need to ensure they’re creating jobs within the next five years for people that are going to be made redundant or unemployed.

I would also say sustainability is extremely important, so ensuring that everything is made more environmentally friendly whether that’s tax on companies that aren’t being environmentally friendly or otherwise.

I talk about the Assembly frequently because a lot of my friends are interested and a lot of them are teachers, so they think it’s quite fascinating and they just want to know more about it and now they ask me lots of questions.

I think it’s important that politicians act on our recommendations because, well, for one we’ve just spent a lot of taxpayers money meeting up regularly for over a year, and for the first time ever we have this mini Scotland who have come up with recommendations that they feel are important to them. I think they have to act on it. What I would like to see is politicians discussing our recommendations in parliament and then talk about how they are going to act on it.

Woman smiling