Convener's Blog - 5 September 2020

Kate Wimpress
Kate Wimpress

It feels so much longer than a year since Scotland’s first Citizens’ Assembly met in Edinburgh, back in September 2019. The world has certainly changed for us all, in many ways, since then. I think it is important for the Assembly to reflect on these changes and challenges, and through the use of technology finish it’s important work. 

Weekend 5 of the Assembly will be online. This reflects the new world we live in with COVID. Everyone in Scotland has had to adapt and so, in turn, has the Assembly. I hope that we can offer a clear example of how we can adapt together to move forward.

I know that members are excited to get back to the task in hand, and meet one another again. Most have engaged already; taking part in technical inductions, talking with me, and the Secretariat, on Zoom about their recent experience, and narrating the videos that will play a part in our forthcoming sessions. A number of members have led the Assembly reference group ensuring that the voice of members is central when considering how best to take deliberations online. 

We have worked together to bring authentic, informed, and personal inputs to weekend 5, and I am very grateful to those members who gave so generously of their time and thoughts as we navigated through uncertain days. 

In weekend 5, we will be reflecting back on Our Journey so Far and setting out The Journey to Come.  We will have COVID 19 on our minds, how could we not? But our remit and purpose remain unchanged. 

Prior to the pausing of our meetings, substantial progress had been made by members in the development of a shared vision for the future of Scotland, considering key challenges faced in the building of a sustainable country, on Scotland’s finances and taxation, and in discussing how decisions are taken for and by Scotland. Completing that work, refreshed of course to take account of the impact of COVID, will now be our focus.

The Scottish Government has supported the Assembly’s move online, and referenced the work in the Programme for Government published earlier this week. 

I wrote, recently, to the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament, Ken Mackintosh MSP, who responded that he was encouraged to hear “Assembly members were happy and able to continue their important work, despite the current challenges we all face.” 

As members prepare to deliberate across the coming months, moving towards their final recommendations, it is heartening to know their work continues to be valued and welcomed by decision makers. 

We will be livestreaming on the website www.citizensassembly.scot from 10am on Saturday 5 September. As ever, we will continue to post links on social media as so please do follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and see previous video content on our YouTube channel

Finally here’s our short film for relaunch – Our Journey So Far. I think it captures the Assembly’s spirit really well. 

Kind regards