INDEPENDENCE supporter Lynne Dougan joined the Yes Stones Facebook page in 2019 when there was only a few hundred members.

The idea came from Pitlochry sculptor Alison Rollo who started the craze, and in 2018 spoke to The National all about it.

But now the page has over 9000 members sharing tips for painting different materials, photographs to document their efforts and encourage others, as well as connect Yes supporters across the globe.

The group information states members paint “stones, pebbles, slate” to “plant” across Scotland “and indeed the world”.

But members have now found themselves in the position of raising thousands of pounds for food banks across Scotland in the name of mitigating Westminster policies.

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“There was never any intention to do funding and all we were doing was trying to organically spread the [Yes] word”, Dougan shared, “we would ask people if they came to our displays at marches and took a stone ‘if you want to keep it, that's fine, but take three more and plant them somewhere else’ so it kind of grows".

Dougan said people started recognising the slates and stones as works of art and were offering up donations to the stalls.

“I think the first time we had donations was in 2020, we took them on to the Saor Alba Pipes and Drums, because they had collection buckets. So, they just gave us one of their collection buckets, put the money in that and we passed it to them and there was around £400 paid.

“It just kind of went from there”.

The National:

The group has donated to mostly food banks, but also a mental health charity, independence groups, and the Faslane Peace Camp.

The number raised currently stands at £4631.

“We're now getting quite a lot. We always like to do it where we are it with a march so in Edinburgh, we’ve got Edinburgh charities that would benefit from it even if it was like 150 quid for a couple of charities. We’re able to distribute that to different places."

Food banks in South Ayrishire, Alloa, Penicuik, Caithness, Moray, Inverness, Perth, Stirling, Dundee, Golspie, and Rutherglen have all benefitted from the group's work.

At this year’s Glasow independence march in May, the group raised around £1300, which was distributed to four different food banks and £100 going to Independence Live who stream the marches and several other Yes events throughout the year “to help them keep doing what they do as well”.

The National:

Dougan also shared that when she sends money to the charities, she often leaves a note.

She said: “I always put a wee kind note to say the reason we're donating is because we know you're doing a good job helping people who are struggling as a result of Westminster. They might not agree, but nobody ever send the money back.”

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Not all the members of the group are in or from Scotland, as Dougan said, many find stones on holiday or come here and find stones to take home and do what the group was set up to do – spread the Yes word.

The National:

Dougan encourages anyone and everyone to get a pack of pens, contribute a few stones, and even join one of the groups “boulders and blethers” events.

“We meet up at Marches, but we have other events, we call them boulders and blethers. It depends on where because some people, for whatever reason, they can't get to marches or certain events, we often can get somebody else to bring their stones and then display at the marches so they can feel they are actually involved in it the whole kind of cause.

The National:

“So, I actually feel whatever the situation is that they can still make a valid contribution and they really enjoy that. The group itself is really friendly and really encouraging and some people say I have no artistic talent but like, you don't need artistic talent.

“If you can paint a stone blue and add two white lines, then you're fine. That’s it!”

Dougan also added that the group then as the “whole other extreme of really amazing, amazingly talented artistic people” who then inspire other members to go bigger and better to spread Yes.