Benedict's Weekend 5 Diary


The global decline in human activities as a result of COVID – 19 lockdowns, ranging from politics, industries, travels, hospitality, meetings to the general ways of doing things has had unexpected benefit for our society and the world in general. Here at the Citizens’ Assembly, resolutely dedicated women and men once again, came together making history as the very first Online Assembly meeting around the globe.  It was a unique moment in a unique time! But how did it all play out in this challenging time?

Before the meeting, the Secretariat, the Research and the Design groups all worked tirelessly, planning and holding virtual meetings. Workshops, trainings and general supports were arranged for members and staff of the Assembly to get everyone in the right mood after the devastating long lockdown and a very prolonged absence of six months from the Assembly.

To be honest, I was nervous, probably like everyone. But I was resolute, like every other member! The consensus was that the huge work and sacrifices we have all put together at the Assembly should not go to waste. The Assembly’s work is a mission that must be accomplished and delivered. And of course, there is never a wrong time to do the right thing. This is absolutely the time to come together, once again to strategically reposition Scotland in a changing or rather a changed world – the change has come much quicker than expected and further delay could have some devastating consequences.

At the virtual meeting, everything that could possibly go right, went very well! But not without some minor technical hiccups. Members were confident. The preparations before this meeting(the videos, expert materials, technical supports) were all brilliantly provided by the secretariat and they all paid off and made it easy for members to engage. The right spirit and increased productivity of previous face to face was recreated at this virtual meeting.

We should remember that one of the essential purposes of the Weekend 5 Assembly meeting was for us members to reconnect with each other and to reflect on the impact of COVID on how it has affected our work at the Assembly. Also, we have started work on the Assembly’s final vision of the kind of country we want for Scotland.

The ‘Horizon Scanning’ on the impact of COVID all paid off as they all helped to jog members’ memories, and intentions of the Assembly realised.
In our magical, virtual Breakout Rooms, we were able to further discuss the reviews of the outputs from the Assembly to date and agreed on areas of consensus on a vision for our beloved country – Scotland. 

The highlight of the 5th Assembly meeting is that COVID has emphatically shown the importance of community and citizen led actions and our government should note the importance of trust, honesty and good communication with citizens.

I am also of the opinion that this is a moment for Scotland - the Citizens’ Assembly members, to pause and think carefully about what we want to become as a nation and how we can deliver the change this will require. 

On this note, as we all continue to make these selfless contributions, women and men of honour, let’s continue to ponder on what is best for our beloved country – Scotland, as we all eagerly look forward to meeting again on the 3-4 October. See you all!  

Alba an Aigh!