VOICES for Scotland held its first online discussion on Thursday night. With dozens of people taking part, it augured well for the future of the series of talks and discussions which the organisation is holding for the foreseeable future.

They told The National yesterday: “Last night was our first virtual Get Together since Voices for Scotland has come back from the Covid-19 imposed break.

“While our previous plan, of intimate, open and face-to-face conversations across the country has been involuntarily stopped for the foreseeable future due to Covid, it felt exciting and special, connecting and reconnecting with people to talk about Scotland’s future, without a party-political focus. Many people mentioned how helpful it was to be non-party political.

“The first Get Together was focused on Independence: Where Are We Now?

“One of the main things that stood out during the discussion was how well spread out across Scotland the participants were, reaching from the central belt all the way up to Orkney. It’s probably no surprise, as one of the big advantages that online discussions bring is that physical distances do not

restrict attendance.

“This was also reflected in the discussion as some attendees noted how discussion around independence varies significantly based on which part of Scotland they are held in. Issues relevant to more rural areas are often overlooked by groups based in bigger cities, providing them with sometimes irrelevant campaigning material.

“The issues of centralised and decentralised organising and campaigning were also discussed as well as using national assemblies as a way of engaging with more people, especially those who might feel unheard by mainstream politics much of the time. Lockdown has opened the door for more virtual work to engage people, across the nation.

“Linda, from Edinburgh, said that when engaging with people who are undecided on independence or politics in general, they do not remember what facts they were presented with but how you made them feel – a thought inspired by Maya Angelou emphasising the need for meaningful and authentic conversations. We hope that everyone who joined the Get Together felt heard and safe to express their opinions and experience.

“Many of the things that were mentioned could be explored further in a more detailed discussion, giving us plenty of material for the next few Get Togethers.

“If you have any topics you would like to discuss or are have recently become curious about independence and want explore more and ask questions in a non-party political, civic conversation, please join us at next week’s Get Together on Thursday, July 30, at 6pm.”