Nicola Sturgeon and Scotland's political leaders release Christmas messages
Scotland's party leaders have tried to raise awareness of those who suffer through the festive season in their Christmas messages.
The First Minister has urged those who feel unhappy at this time to be open about their feelings, while Labour’s Richard Leonard highlighted the struggle of families who rely on foodbanks.
Nicola Sturgeon also paid tribute to those who work during the holiday period, including members of the armed forces, the emergency services and health workers.
“I want to thank all of you for your hard work - it is highly valued at all times, but especially appreciated just now,” she said.
“And of course for some people, Christmas can be a time of anxiety or unhappiness.
“Because of that, the Scottish Government is encouraging everyone to take care of each other this Christmas.
“Remember, first of all, to take care of yourself. If you’re unhappy, be open about that. It is okay not to be okay at Christmas.
“Take care of your community. If you’re able to, give a helping hand to people who need it, or join in a local activity.
“And finally, take care of the people you love. Look after them, and enjoy being able to spend some time with them.”
Mr Leonard said: “For many people, Christmas is a time to get together with family and friends. But not everybody can.
“So it’s also a time to remember that we need to do so much more as a society to help those in need.
“When one in four children in Scotland are living in poverty, when foodbanks are handing out more parcels than ever before, and when thousands of families are facing Christmas without a home to call their own, something needs to change.”
He continued: “This Christmas, let us all commit to do more to bring about the better society we know that we can be.”
Scottish Conservative interim leader Jackson Carlaw also urged people to do what they can to help the vulnerable at this time.
“However we each keep Christmas this year, it is worth looking out for those who are on their own and to donate what we can to support those who will appreciate the difference it can make,” he said.
He also paid “a special tribute” to the NHS staff who are working over Christmas.
The MSP said: “As a country, we may have felt divided for much of 2018 - it is the collective effort of our NHS staff, working together, who have shown us the country at its best.”
Adding to messages of support for Scotland’s public servants, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “I want to take this opportunity to thank those working in our public services - frontline doctors and nurses who staff hospitals with cheer on Christmas Day, the police and fire service workers who never take a day off, the posties who have put in lengthy December shifts to get cards and presents to the right homes, and to everyone else who is keeping Scottish society afloat this Christmas time.”