AS I write, the drizzly west wind flutters my Yes flag across a dreich, headache-inducing sky. A flutter of hope.

That is exactly what independence campaigners in Dumfries and Galloway (D&G) are, and yes, we need hope!

Around one in four of our children are living in poverty in our low-wage, low-attainment, high cost of living region. Our hospital is desperate for senior staff and there is a dire shortage of carers. Families are desperate for homes they are outbid for, both rental and purchase.

The First Base Agency food bank sends out an ever-increasing number of life-saving parcels. Over a quarter of our population are retirees, largely from elsewhere. Prospects seem non-existent. No-one has the energy to think about the future when surviving the week is so hard.

Yes campaigners here know all this could be so much better. It is our job to tell as many people as possible that there is hope.

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With independence, we can build affordable homes, entice the staff we need now, while investing in educating our own for the future. We can offer better prospects, wider opportunities, innovative businesses and satisfying, better-paid employment.

We can regenerate infrastructure and develop new facilities and attractions for locals and visitors alike. As the gateway to both Northern Ireland and England, we have our eye on the impact of borders; we could be thriving as Scotland’s gateway to Europe.

It has been hard too for indy campaigners to rekindle enthusiasm. People get sick, old, tired, and we have all lost stalwarts.

However, the Indyvan, Dumfries and Galloway Pensioners for Indy, Fechan Bridges for Indy, and Yes Stewartry are among those who have been holding the line, as others get the band back together.

If not us, then who?

We know that if we are here, when the time comes others will join us.

In the interim, we do vox pops, sticker polls, street stalls – all effective in our towns – and flag/banner visibility for rural areas. The Indyvan operates as a mobile campaign, reaching all sorts of places – vital in D&G.

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The online resource helps offer sources to campaigners when cross-border issues are raised – a favourite topic for fearmongers.

We also enjoy local and national events, marches etc to help keep up morale among our own folk, while we keep on going and await the “starter’s gun”.

We are acutely aware that we face one of the most difficult conversions in Scotland. In 2014, only 34% voted Yes here. In 2016, 55% voted to remain in the EU. Brexit has worsened our quality of life markedly, and of course rammed up the cost of living.

With the right messages, and consideration given to our potential new status as the outer border of the EU, D&G could be won.

If we can win over Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland’s win will already be a landslide.