I was never really interested in UK politics despite being married to a man who is a member and supporter of the SNP and is passionate about politics. I always thought politics was boring and had nothing to offer of interest as it always seemed to be Westminster-centric.
All that changed, however, when I had to focus on which way to vote in the Scottish Referendum in 2014. I was hooked. When the results of the referendum were revealed I was very disappointed and decided that the only way I could show my support was, like a few tens of thousand others, by becoming a member of the SNP. We attended our monthly branch meetings and constituency association meetings where we met other like-minded people.
We didn’t know how we could use our skills, knowledge and work experience to help but the following shows how we used our skills to help with branch activities, particularly with the General and Holyrood election campaigns, through the encouragement and support of other members of our branch.
Never being involved in an Election Campaign before we “dipped our toes in the water” by volunteering to input the General Election and Holyrood Election local data on to the SNP database. It didn’t take up too much time and it was good to feel you were making a contribution. In conjunction with our Organiser we also ran some data analysis to assist our canvass teams. We had the easy part as it was our canvassers who were out in all weathers speaking to people on their doorsteps. If you can help with data input we would be happy to give initial training.
Our branch was brand new so I volunteered to attempt to create and maintain a branch website to improve communications with our members. This was a challenge and a new learning experience as I knew nothing of web technology. With the support and patience of another branch’s communications expert and the help of online learning packages on YouTube I eventually learned enough to attempt this.
However, it was not only new technology which had to be learned. One of the key issues for our area is Coal Gas Extraction (CGE) via Fracking and Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) and this was one of the first pieces of research that was done in order to put the facts onto the website. I now understand the process and issues involved with CGE – something I would not have gone into in such great detail had there not been a website to maintain.
I was also asked to join other branch members at the official count on Holyrood Election night at Glenrothes where the ballot boxes were being delivered for the Dunfermline and Cowdenbeath constituencies.
It was our job as Counting Agents to record how many crosses we could see for which party when the voting slips were being unfolded and passing that information on to our Campaign Manager. This information gave him a “heads up” on how things were going.
As the night progressed we could see that it was going to be a good night for the SNP and were rewarded with seeing Shirley-Anne Somerville and Annabelle Ewing win their respective seats. To be involved at every stage of an election campaign was an excellent experience, especially since we won!
We also did a little leafletting, joined others in manning the stall in Dunfermline High Street and on Holyrood Election day joined a team to phone some of our known SNP supporters to remind them to vote. The best conversation I had that day was with a lady who was waiting for her son to return from school so they could both vote together. She was so excited.
Other ways to get involved are as branch executives, auditors, Polling Agents, leafletters, canvassers, helping organise social events, helping with catering, raffles etc., etc.
Getting involved can be at your own pace knowing your abilities and limitations. I was wary at first but as I have gained more experience and actually enjoyed what I have done I would encourage others to give it a go. You will meet like-minded folks, make new friends, make use of your skills and possibly, like me, learn new skills.
As you can see there are lots of ways to help and become part of our team. You will be made most welcome. If you want to speak to us you can get in touch with our Exec team on our Contacts page or complete the contact form below.