HARD-WORKING, optimistic and not ready to give up – the biggest ever survey of Yes campaigners proves activists remain committed to their independence goal.

Published on what was to be independence day if most voters had backed change in the 2014 referendum, the report is the largest and most in-depth look at the people who drove the Yes movement on Scotland’s streets.

Published by Common Weal and Heriot-Watt University, the study takes in almost 1,000 volunteers throughout the country from all parts of the independence campaign. It reveals a diverse network united by a belief that regaining national autonomy could pave the way for a fresher, more socially just Scotland.

Lead researcher Dr Iain Black of the School of Management and Languages at Heriot-Watt University said: “The results show a highly diverse group of volunteers expressing remarkable similarity in what they did, what they experienced and expressing a uniform intent to stay engaged in the campaign for Scottish independence.

“We tried to assess whether it was, as some claimed, the biggest grassroots campaign in Scotland’s history. We can only answer that by saying those involved certainly thought so.

“The results strongly suggest that when the starting gun is sounded next time, the grassroots independence campaign will contain a formidable range of knowledgeable, passionate campaigners who have experience running local groups and local campaigns and feel they know how to persuade friends, families and strangers alike.”

The youngest volunteers surveyed were just 17 and the oldest 88, making for a mean age of 51.

At almost 60 per cent, more than half of participants were male, but the rate of female involvement increased the newer the activists were to Yes campaigning.

Although just seven per cent identified as homosexual or bisexual, the level is “significantly higher” than the proportion in the general population, based on Office of National Statistics figures which saw less than one per cent identify as LGB.

Researchers said this suggests Yes Scotland was “at least partially successful in running an open inclusive campaign aiming at equality”, as was its stated aim.

Overall, most people were motivated by a “belief in independence for Scotland”, with a similar level saying this was a “route to a more equal, socially just society”.

Disillusionment with Westminster politics was also a “powerful motivator”.

On average, volunteers campaigned for 10 hours per week, while 25 per cent put up to 10 times that.

Around half were in lower managerial, administrative and professional work in teaching, sales, social work and health, while seven in 10 were members of more than one Yes group, such as Women for Independence, the Radical Independence Campaign, Business for Scotland and National Collective.

Almost 70 per cent identified as Scottish not British, but 30 per cent reported a British or other nationality such as English or Spanish.

Volunteers were, in the main, current or previous members of the SNP, Greens and Scottish Socialist Party, but 14 per cent were ex-Labour members, with only three people still signed up after the campaign.

The work was “exciting” for most and the majority felt “proud” on polling day, but now reported a “sense of loss” following the result.

Some 77 per cent went on to work on the 2015 General Election push and a massive 95 per cent vowed to keep working towards independence.

Co-author Sara Marsden, social researcher and Common Weal Edinburgh North & Leith activist, said: “The hope for a more socially just democratic future for Scotland seems to have acted as a strong unifying idea, helping to build a movement for change growing well beyond the party structures which seeded the original campaign.

“Along with the evidence of continued increased political activism this bodes well, with engaged and increasingly organised citizens working for a better Scotland.”

Common Weal director Robin McAlpine said: “Those who became active during the Yes campaign remain committed to campaigning for the cause. What makes another independence referendum so inevitable is not the drift towards nationalist sentiment but the overwhelming desire for a kind of social justice that Scotland doesn’t get from Westminster.”