WE recently asked for Yes groups to tell us of their experiences during the pandemic, and it was heartening to see how many groups had managed to keep going and how they were making progress after the lifting of most lockdown measures.

Edinburgh Women for Independence (EdinWFI) sent us a full account of their activities and we think it’s something that will inspire other Yes groups at this time.

They told us: “A lot is being said about the state of the indy movement after the isolating lockdowns brought about by the Covid pandemic. For us in EdinWFI, our last face-to-face meeting was February 2020, so we decided to take stock over the summer. After the losses, heartbreak and sadness of Covid, we got a wee bit of new normal up and running,

“Starting with a Zoom get-together in May, we tested the water – would any member turn up? Yes, we did – 11 of us, and that included one ‘newbie’, no less.

READ MORE: New forum set to improve communication within the Yes movement

“That wasn’t a formal meeting. It was a bit emotional, but the exhilaration was there, not just knowing there was an appetite to meet but the desire to get back to ‘doing’. So we Zoomed in June and July, with formal meetings, trying to re-establish a routine.

“What was really energising was our ‘ootnaboot’ers. Despite not being out with the stall, banners, leaflets and chats for 20 whole months, there was a small turn-out on August 3 at the east end of Princes Street. The sun shone; that helped, and it was good to be back, stopping, chatting, listening. In the main, we got a good reception, a few cheery nods, but best of all, it was obvious there was a welcoming from the majority that stopped.

“That really did fire up everyone. The decision taken meant it was repeated not once, but thrice: table, banner, the lot, but with something new, a questionnaire.”

Given The National’s involvement in the Day of Action called for by Believe in Scotland, the next account is very pleasing.

“We kicked off in August in Wester Hailes, Portobello, early September and the Day of Action on the Meadows, September 18. What a success story that questionnaire turned out to be. We’re all volunteers in EdinWFI, not professional pollsters, so no apologies for not identifying components such as age, postcode areas, income bracket. Nor can we tell you how many folks didn’t want to take part. But that didn’t stop them from frequently using the stall to pick up indy literature.

“Never intended as ‘market research’, it was a talk-through, enabling us to ask, listen, and leading to the all-important ‘indy’ question. The same questions were asked in the three areas, with 157 people responding.

“The majority view was: Brexit isn’t working, the Universal Credit uplift should stay, nuclear weapons should not be kept in Scotland and climate change is a priority. And the all important indy question? The results from Wester Hailes and Portobello were broadly similar, with 64% and 59% for independence respectively and 24% and 25% respectively saying No. The Meadows had an 81% for independence and 3.5% saying No.

“Even taking the Nos, maybes and don’t knows into consideration, there was a straight majority for independence. Now that has to be a boost if you’re ever feeling a bit down with autumn, winter, and dark nights looming. In turn, our work isn’t finished – not when there’s more voters to talk to as we try to change minds.”

READ MORE: What will be our winning story for independence? This is mine

The ‘ootnaboot’ers haven’t stopped and weather-dependent, EdinWFI hopes to be back in the Meadows, along with Yes Marchmont and Morningside, on October 30 from 11am to 1pm, complete with a new questionnaire.

EdinWFI added: “We have to take a minute and thank the Edinburgh Yes Hub for their summer activities and the opportunity for EdinWFI to participate. EdinWFI had a turn-out, banner and all, on September 11 up at the Yes Hub, making a lot of noise as the Tour of Britain cycle race went past on Lasswade Road. We’ve been told there was even some sightings on TV!

“Thanks Mike and the Yes Hub crew, and not just for that. They took the gamble to run with the pre-booked Queen’s Hall on September 21, when the Yes Hub held Scotland’s Debate, with our member Selma Rahman on the panel.

“Sometimes it feels lonely and you can get a bit dispirited, wondering how we’ll get there. But we have to have faith, believe and hold, hold fast. We must believe. Independence … it’s coming yet for a’ that.”