Scotland's leaders pay tribute to Christmas volunteers

Scotland's political leaders have paid tribute to those who help others as they issued their annual Christmas messages.
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: PAScottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: PA
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: PA
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Nicola Sturgeon praised community volunteers, while Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson highlighted the work of both the armed forces and the Samaritans - pointing out that many still need a “comforting ear” over the festive break.

And new Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard thanked all those working over Christmas, including workers in the hospitality industry, nurses, firefighters and all emergency workers.

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Ms Sturgeon, the SNP leader, also used her message to pay tribute to those working in the NHS, the emergency services and in the armed forces, saying that for them, “Christmas isn’t a holiday at all”.

The First Minister delivered her message at the Woodlands community cafe in Glasgow, and said that while Christmas is a time of celebration, it is also a “time for thinking about and helping others”.

She said: “This cafe, and the volunteers here - are among thousands of organisations and individuals throughout Scotland who do so much for our local communities - not just at Christmas, but all throughout the year. They exemplify the solidarity and compassion which is so important to our society.”

She urged Scots to follow their example and “do our bit to help others and to spread some Christmas cheer”.

Ms Davidson said the festive season could be difficult for those who have lost a loved on over the year, as she stated: “Organisations like the Samaritans who will still be manning phones this Christmas to speak to people who need a comforting ear.

“Their Freephone number 116123 will be open throughout the festive season and we all thank them for their work.”

She added: “For many of us, Christmas is one of the few moments of the year when we get a chance to disengage from work and take a step back for a few days.

“After a year in which we’ve often seen more heat than light in our public debate, I hope the holiday season will provide us with a moment to remember what we have in common.”

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Mr Leonard urged Scots to think of others less fortunate than themselves, including “the elderly in our care homes and hospitals, children who are separated from their parents, those who have suffered bereavement”.

And he added: “We should think of those refugees who have come to Scotland for sanctuary and to build a new life, and all those who are fighting to survive in too many countries riven with war or internal unrest.”

He also pledged that in the coming year his party would fight “even harder” to “eradicate poverty and to end the inequalities which blight so many lives”.

Meanwhile, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said his party had “turned the corner” in 2017 and had “started winning elections again”.

He stated: “I believe that winning is not just good for the Liberal Democrats but is also good for the country.

“It means that we have moderate, outward looking, optimistic voices making the case for change and challenging authority and government.”