How the Kirkcaldy Yes Hub is helping more than just independence supporters

Looking back to a time before the Kirkcaldy Yes Hub was set up, there were a few things the group of independence supporters couldn’t have seen coming.
The Yes Hub marks the first year in operation.The Yes Hub marks the first year in operation.
The Yes Hub marks the first year in operation.

Firstly, all signs at the time appeared to show that another Scottish Independence referendum could be called any day, so many didn’t think they’d still be waiting 12 months on.

Secondly, back then it looked like the British political sphere couldn’t have become any more chaotic.

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And thirdly, the group never realised the important role they would find themselves in, with regards to helping people down on their luck – no matter what their political persuasion.

As the Yes Hub marks one year in operation at Hunter Street, activists remain ready for the moment an independence referendum could be called.

But in the meantime, while working to make the case for a self-governing nation, those manning the hub have found themselves taking on an unexpected role.

Roy Mackie is one of the volunteers at the hub.

He said: “We opened the hub to promote independence – just to talk to people of all persuasions, even those who don’t agree with it.

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“We’re hoping we can give them some information that may change their views.

“We aim to engage people in a positive way, and we find that’s well received. We’re not there to argue.

“But we’ve had people who come in and just want to talk to us about problems, desperate people asking for help, who maybe can’t get help at the Job Centre or the Town House.

“They come in for a chat, sometimes that’s all we can give them.

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“We get all sorts, people who have been made homeless, who have been through tribunals and deemed to have made themselves deliberately homeless and therefore don’t get any help.

“They come in here because they’re not sure what to do. We try to point them in the direction of Citizens Advice or wherever else, but we just chat with them. We don’t talk about politics with them unless they want to.

“Around half do, and half don’t, but that’s fine.”

“We’ve had EU nationals come in and tell us how difficult it is to register for permission to stay,” adds Lorna Ross. “The whole system is just so difficult to navigate.

“The EU nationals think we’ll have all the answers, but we don’t, but all we can do is redirect them to the International Centre.”

“We get all sorts,” says Roy. “Our door is always open”.

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The group say the independence movement is growing, and recent polls would seem to suggest this is the case.

And it appears to be no surprise why.

“With what’s happening at Westminster just now, people are seeing with their own eyes just what a farce it really is.

“They’re seeing that Westminster is not set-up in any way to be an equal parliament for all four countries in the union.

“They don’t represent us most of the time, whether it’s financial policies or foreign policies with wars that we get dragged into.

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“People can see that there’s a big push to become more aligned with the USA, which will mean more of the same.

“We’ve always been told that we’re too wee, too poor, and too stupid to run our own affairs.

“But people are looking around the world at countries that are smaller than us, have fewer resources and worse GDPs.

“We have everything that a successful nation needs, but progaganda will tell you otherwise.

“But people are starting to recognise this.”

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But Roy is in no doubt about the progress the Yes movement has made in the last year.

He said: “We’ve had a few isolated cases of people popping their head in the door and having a go at us, but very few.

“We’re seeing a difference when we’re out and about. Even the people who don’t support independence are happier to talk to us.

“There’s definitely been a change, people are bit more open to us.”

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“There’s a lot of new people coming in – often people who haven’t been involved in politics before, but are keen to find some way of getting involved.

But while things appeared headed quickly for a new independence referendum when the hub was opened in 2018, did anyone think supporters would still be waiting a year on?

“None of us did. It was a big commitment to take this on.

“We are open six days a week, 10.00am till 4.00pm.

“We thought maybe six months and there’d be another referendum, but here we are.

“We’re all volunteers, nobody’s paid, but we’re determined to keep the premises on and stay open, to make the case until it’s time.

“We’ll be open for the party when we’re celebrating independence.”