SCPO project hailed as ‘inspirational’

MSPs on all sides of the Scottish Parliament have welcomed an “invaluable” initiative which helps them better engage with churches across the country.

They said the Meet Your MSP project helped shine a light on the “positive” and “inspirational” work being carried out by congregations to help and support some of the most vulnerable people in society.

Meet Your MSP was launched in June after the Holyrood election by the Scottish Churches Parliamentary Office (SCPO) which has launched a new logo to mark the work it does with churches across the nation.

The modern logo has been released along with a new look website to showcase the work of the parliamentary office.

Relationship building

Chloe Clemmons, SCPO parliamentary officer, said: “We believe that it is important for people in churches get to know their local political representatives and view them as real people that they can have a conversation with.

“MSPs have the power to impact our lives in very significant ways and getting to know them early in their term in office is a great way to start a relationship that will hopefully be beneficial to both churches and MSPs for years to come.”

Ben Macpherson Ben Macpherson MSP at the unveiling of a plaque unveiling at Old Fishermen’s Cemetery in Newhaven

Ben Macpherson, MSP for Edinburgh Northern and Leith, has taken part in the project over the past few months with visits to the Salvation Army’s Eagle Lodge Care Home in Leith, North Leith Parish Church and a plaque unveiling at Old Fishermen’s Cemetery in Newhaven.

“It has been great to visit so many local churches and associated projects over the last few months,” he said.

“Thank you to everyone involved for the warm welcomes I’ve received.

“I have been inspired by the amount of good work being done by faith groups to make a meaningful difference and to support some of the most vulnerable in our communities.”

Positive difference

Mr Macpherson said his constituency is a very diverse area with many cultures, ethnicities, religions and nationalities making up the vibrant community.

“It is important to me that I support every part of our community and the ‘Meet Your MSP’ project has been a great way to learn more about the various congregations in the area and the positive difference they make,” he added.

Through the Meet Your MSP project Brian Whittle MSP was put in contact with the East Ayrshire Churches Homeless Action (EACHa) in Kilmarnock.

The ecumenical group runs a number of projects across East Ayrshire offering support and advice to people experiencing homelessness or who are at risk of becoming homeless.

Brian Whittle Brian Whittle MSP with EACHa project workers and service users

Mr Whittle, MSP for South Scotland, spoke with volunteers and service users.

“As a new MSP, one of my first and most important tasks was to get out into the area I represent and see what’s happening on the ground,” he said.

“The Meet Your MSP project proved to be an invaluable resource; highlighting many worthwhile initiatives being run in association with local churches.

“There are so many great groups of people out there doing fantastic work and the Meet Your MSP project made it much easier for me to find and connect with them.

“I’m delighted to be able to highlight the positive impacts these groups are having in lots of communities through the local press and motions in the Scottish Parliament.

“I will be continuing to support them all during the rest of my time in parliament.”

Christian perspective

A Meet Your MSP event will take place at the Scottish Parliament next February for representatives from congregations and groups that have taken part in the project to celebrate what has been achieved so far.

SCPO was set up in 1999 following the creation of the Scottish Parliament. It is a non-denominational and non-partisan organisation which exists to help build good working relationships between the UK parliaments and churches in Scotland.

There are 11 denominations represented by the SCPO in Scotland including the Church of Scotland, Scottish Episcopal Church, Baptist Union of Scotland, Salvation Army, Unitarians, United Reformed Church, United Free, Quakers and Methodist Church.

The office provides a Christian perspective on political matters, helps churches engage with the parliamentary process, and provides information between churches and politicians.