WHEN campaigning for Yes in the 2014 referendum, I was approached by a couple of Aberdeen University students outside Marks & Spencer. They wanted three reasons why they should vote Yes. It made sense, we all should know three reasons for independence.

For me, it was fishing. I worked in the industry for more than 25 years in Torry. Westminster sold our fishing communities down the river time and time again, more recently with Brexit. The promise of a sea of opportunity pushed by the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation never materialised. Coming out of Europe didn’t help the industry, it made matters worse. You may remember in the Press and Journal, the group Fishing for Yes launched in Peterhead asking us to vote Yes in 2014. It has been a rollercoaster since for our fishers. I am looking forward to the Scottish fishing fleet flying the Yes flag again.

Our farming communities in the North East are great assets to our economy, producing and exporting some of the best food and drinks.

The National Farmers’ Union has been busy ringing the alarm bell in the media, explaining that leaving the European Union endangers our food security. I know farmers who have their Yes signs ready to put up next year. I’m sure many more will now choose independence.

Back in 2014, with our two students waiting to hear my three reasons for voting Yes, I chose to tell them about the growing need for food banks first. Being raised in a farm and having worked in the seafood industry most of my life, I didn’t know if food production would have been of as much interest to them as it was to me. I also wanted to tell them about when I took a French television crew to a food bank in Tillydrone, close to their university, a few weeks before.

After a tour of Aberdeen, the energy-rich city and one of the wealthiest in Britain, flanked with two French journalists, I visited the food bank. To my astonishment, there was nothing to show them, nothing to film. The shelves were bare – no tins, no jars, no bread and no milk. They had run out of food, again. People relying on this, some coming straight from their work, others coming from far away, had to return home empty-handed. An older couple coming from Aberdeenshire had just gone back on the bus with nothing. The small network of food banks in 2014 was struggling at the time in rural Aberdeenshire.

“We’re a wealthy city, a wealthy region, and we ought to know that people are not benefiting from it all,” I told the students. I paused before asking them if they were ready to hear about my second reason for independence. They looked at each other and said they were satisfied with just the one reason.

Shaking their hands, I urged them to volunteer for the food bank in Tillydrone. They smiled, said they will, and that they would vote Yes.

Since 2014, our need for food banks has increased drastically.

Demands for emergency food are reported to be up 50% from January this year, marking a 137% increase since October. You too can make a difference, your local food bank is looking for donations and for volunteers. Most of the volunteers who helped a great deal during the pandemic are now back to work.

Scotland voted No to independence in 2014 despite the Yes vote of the couple of students I met back then. The biggest contribution we can make next year is to vote Yes

This article was published as part of a special-edition paper distributed in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire by the Aberdeen Independence Movement. Click HERE to read more of these articles.