The Scotland Loves Local campaign has launched across the country to encourage Scots to go back to their roots, think local first and support their local high streets safely and in line with public health guidelines.

The Coronavirus pandemic has hit high streets and local businesses hard - now is the time to support them to get back on their feet. Whether you need a book, a pint of milk, a night out and a meal, a bedside table or some garden furniture.

by Phil Prentice, Chief Officer, Scotland’s Towns Partnership

HeraldScotland:

Think local first. It’s a simple but powerful plea - one which really could have a tremendous influence on Scotland’s economic fightback from coronavirus.

Town centres have a critical role to play in the country’s safe recovery from the pandemic. Businesses in them stand ready to be on the frontline of a triumphant comeback, but they need your help to secure success.

By taking care about public health and thinking local first, we can rebuild our economy from its grassroots, ensuring our home communities are fantastic and vibrant hubs for retail and leisure.

That’s why we at Scotland’s Towns Partnerships, in association with the Scottish Government, have launched the Scotland Loves Local campaign, to champion the tremendous businesses - whether a pub, cafe, tailor, butcher or a grocery shop - which really are the lifeblood of our economy.

I am sure that one of the things which Covid-19 has taught us is the importance of localism and our towns are an important part of that. Indeed, we owe much of the innovation, invention and culture that Scotland is renowned for to our towns.

The outbreak has, of course, caused significant challenges for our town centres, high streets and local businesses. They have lost out to the large internet retail giants because they had to close to keep us safe. In fact, even despite these challenges, many of them have gone to enormous lengths to support the most vulnerable people and have been at the heart of some fantastic community responses.

These actions have served to highlight that our high streets aren’t just a series of buildings where things are bought and sold. The people who run local businesses are our family, friends and neighbours.

Challenges facing our towns and high streets are nothing new. We’ve been talking about what our towns and high streets look like in the future for many years, but the unprecedented challenge of Covid-19 is the reckoning that must spur us into action.

Looking to our future, with new thinking and innovation, the opportunities are endless – whether in redesigning our high streets to be carbon neutral, embracing a digital first approach or returning our towns to community hubs and social spaces.

But, here and now, getting our high streets back on their feet in the safest possible way is pivotal. In so many ways, our high streets have always been there for us. Now is the time for us to be there for them.

Scotland Loves Local is about encouraging all of us to think local while following all social distancing, face covering and other public health guidelines, whether you’re looking for a book, pint of milk, night out and a meal, a bedside table or some garden furniture.

This isn’t just about keeping shop units occupied, it’s bigger than that. It’s about supporting the very fabric of our society and community.

With support from the Scottish Government through the Towns and Business Improvement Districts Resilience and Recovery Fund, communities across the country are already pulling together to weather this storm.

My plea to you is to stick with us: Live local, shop local, love local. The difference you can make is great.