Newton Mearns resident joins first-ever Citizens’ Assembly of Scotland

Jackie  taking part in the first ever Citizens' Assembly of Scotland'. (Photo: Chris Watt)
Jackie taking part in the first ever Citizens' Assembly of Scotland'. (Photo: Chris Watt)

A Newton Mearns resident has had the unique chance to debate major issues facing the Scotland.

Jackie Curran (70) was chosen to join the first-ever Citizens’ Assembly of Scotland, which was set up last year as a different way of doing politics.

So far, climate change, building stronger communities, political trust and the economy have been amongst the challenges discussed.

The 100 members have also been joined by academic advisers, a politicians panel and expert panellists to discuss priorities for Scotland after the General Election and the challenges and opportunities in delivering a priority members identified in previous Assembly weekends - to “build a sustainable country where we balance environmental, economic and social impact for the good of the country and its citizens.”

A knock on her door led to Jackie signing up.

She said: “A lady came to my door and asked if she could ask me some questions as part of market research. She explained about the Citizens’ Assembly and I was interested.

“At first I thought it was going to be very political and focussed on the SNP but that wasn’t the case at all. What really tempted me to give it a go and sign up is that I have children and grandchildren, and I wanted a say in the country that they would grow up in.

“I honestly thought it would be a bit of fun, but it really is hard work as well!

The Assembly will meet six times between October 2019 and April 2020 to deliberate on:

∙ What kind of country are we seeking to build?

∙ How best can we overcome the challenges Scotland and the world face in the 21st century, including those arising from Brexit?

∙ What further work should be carried out to give us the information we need to make informed choices about the future of the country?

The recommendations will be set out in a report that will be laid in the Scottish Parliament.

Jackie explains what being part of the Assembly entails: “We are put into groups - and we are a mixed bunch, different ages, sex, backgrounds – and we discuss topics. Our answers aren’t led in anyway, but we do have someone to make sure that we keep on the right track.

“At the last weekend, we had a panel of politicians along to speak to us which was very interesting.

“I’ve really enjoyed my time as part of the Assembly so far and look forward to what the next meetings bring. I would encourage other people to give it a go!”

Citizens’ Assembly Convener Kate Wimpress is delighted with the progress made so far and believes it is on track to deliver on its remit.

She said: “The Citizens Assembly is aimed at doing politics differently. It’s about real people finding ways of working together on difficult issues concerning Scotland’s future by engaging in informed and respectful deliberation and finding ways to move forward together.

“The dedication shown by these citizens and their commitment to learn about complex issues, to listen respectfully to and work collaboratively with their fellow Assembly members is extraordinary and I am incredibly proud to be part of this journey with them.”

Kate added: “Citizens’ Assemblies have been run successfully in other countries, but this is a first for Scotland. We are seeing members growing in confidence, question experts fully and use this knowledge alongside their life experience in focussed deliberation.

Our Assembly members are clearly mapping out how citizens can be involved directly in decision-making about things that matter to them most.”

For further information visit the Citizens’ Assembly website