First Minister praises volunteers and emergency services in Christmas Message


by a Newsnet reporter

Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond has wished the nation a merry Christmas in a special video message.

Speaking in the video Mr Salmond spoke of Scotland’s “shared sense of the common weal” and of a collective responsibility that he said was important at this time of year.

This empathy, said Mr Salmond, was a “national asset”.  The First Minister thanked those people who will be spending their time helping others less fortunate than themselves and said:

“I know that many of you will be spending time over the festive period to help people in need and I thank all of you who are helping to bring Christmas cheer where it is most needed.

“I also want to pay a particular tribute to the many people, especially in our emergency services and our armed forces, for whom Christmas is not a holiday at all.  Your commitment and dedication is appreciated all year round, but is especially valued at Christmas, and that goes across the range of public services, people who work when the rest of us are on holiday.

“So whether you are working or partying, whether at home or overseas, on behalf of the Scottish Government I wish each and every one of you a very merry Christmas!”

Meanwhile several MSPs have been witnessing first-hand the efforts of volunteers who provide help for vulnerable groups over the festive period.

These volunteers support Scotland’s homeless people and those in need throughout the winter.

Speaking after working with the Bethany Trust in Aberdeen earlier this week, SNP MSP for North East Scotland Mark McDonald, said:

“The experience visiting the winter shelter in Aberdeen was deeply humbling.  I heard the stories of some of the individuals using the shelter and how they became homeless and how important the services provided by the Bethany Trust are to them at this time of year.

“I spoke at length with the volunteers, including a group of volunteers from a local recruitment firm who were giving up their time, and making a donation, to assist the work of the Bethany Christian Trust.

“At this time of year it is important that we take time to remember the many people who face real hardship, and I commend the work of organisations such as the Bethany Trust, for what they are doing to help homeless people in Aberdeen.”

SNP MSP for Glasgow Cathcart James Dornan spent a night patrolling GIasgow city centre with the Street Pastors.

He said: “Seeing first-hand the work these volunteers do and how positively they are received by people of all ages, was an eye-opener.

“Their support of those in most need, particularly the homeless, was fantastic, from giving out blankets, gloves and socks to ensuring they were welcome at Glasgow’s City Mission.
“At this time of year we should give a thought to those unfortunate people who for a variety of reasons find themselves on the streets but we should also raise a glass to those volunteers and organisations that do so much to make life is as bearable as they can make it under the circumstances.”

On December 27, Humza Yousaf, SNP MSP for Glasgow, will be participating in a street team run by charity Al-Khair.

Mr Yousaf said: “Members of the Muslim community are specifically getting involved in the street team normally run by the Simon Community in Glasgow to support their work in the festive period as a way of recognising Scotland as their home.

“The street team work with people experiencing homelessness, helping people with addiction, mental health, social inclusion, employability and literacy and numeracy problems.
“The Muslim community spends a lot of time and effort tackling social problems – and this is one way it is done over Christmas time, I am privileged to join those volunteering over the festive period and always touched by the amount of work people do to help others at this time of year.”