Convener’s Blog – 30 October 2020

Convener Kate Wimpress

We are coming to the final stages of Scotland’s first Citizens’ Assembly. Earlier this month members met to agree their vision for the future of the country. This was an important and momentous milestone in their work. It has been a huge privilege, and an absolute joy, to be on this journey with Assembly members.

Of course it has not always been easy -  learning together, finding common ground, and agreeing a shared vision is very hard work. Consensus, whilst difficult to achieve, is a powerful thing and I admire and respect the efforts members have made to get to this point.

Moving on-line, whilst a challenge, has been more successful than I envisioned, with many lessons learned along the way. Everyone involved, not least members themselves, was understandably nervous about how things would play out in the digital sphere. The progress made on-line is a testament to the resilience and commitment by all to the Assembly. The Assembly is operating in challenging and uncertain times but our work will undoubtedly form part of the route to the future.  

In weekend 6 we finalised the Assembly vision. You can see the detail of this in the weekend report which, with all the materials for the weekend, is published on our website. This vision is rich, broad, and dynamic covering key areas where members agree we need to focus energies and resources. 

The areas agreed by consensus include  how government operates, citizens involvement in decision-making, improving outcomes in areas such as health and social care, employment, education and training, raising incomes, and tackling poverty. Economic innovation and reforming the tax system are central to the vision.

The Assembly vision is a comprehensive call for action, and is bolstered by other issues explored earlier in Assembly discussion, reflected in a set of further statements supported by the majority of Assembly members. These include building a sustainable country, considerations around housing and transport, and reflections on the constitutional arrangements for the country

In weekend 7 we will build on this work and prepare recommendations, responding to our remit questions 2 and 3, on how we overcome challenges, and what further information is required to enable citizens to make informed decisions about the future.

Scotland’s Citizens’ Assembly has involved learning at every point, which will be shared in the final reports, to inform future initiatives in Scotland and beyond. In the meantime, we continue to publish our research findings, allowing us to reflect and improve as we move on, with valuable insight from our member’s reference group shaping our work.

This latest research, from member surveys after weekend 6, shows over 90% of respondents ‘very satisfied’, or ‘satisfied’, with the approach taken to organising the weekend. The level of engagement of members with the process is high too, 91% ‘strongly agreed’, or ‘tended to agree’, weekend 6 had made them want to continue as an Assembly member. You can read more in the research report for weekend 6Also, one of our members, Benedict,  published his latest diary entry, generously sharing his overview of the weekend after participating.

As ever, we continue to promote aspects of the Assembly through social media, please follow us for updates on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We will refresh the website with new materials as they are developed.

I am very much looking forward to this weekend. The recommendations will make an important part of the legacy of the Assembly, setting a direction for the future of our country. Important work for the citizens of Scotland as they assemble once again.