Time to involve the minority

“I have found out that there is still a gap that needs to be filled. At the local level, there is an immense need to involve the minority community.?


Doris Koyabe reflects on what she has learned from Opening Doors.

Why did I join the shadowing scheme?

There were three simple reasons. First of all, politics affects everything we do from the water we drink to the things we buy. Why should we leave matters relating to our well being in the hands of politicians? I have always been interested in knowing how politicians and policy makers come to a consensus since they affect each one of us on a daily basis. Given that policies and the politics of a country go together, I thought this was the best way to experience exactly how decisions are made. Continue reading “Time to involve the minority”

The essence of democracy

The Opening Doors visit to the Scottish Parliament was a first for Subash Punn. Here he describes why it made a lasting impression.

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Subash Punn on the Scottish Parliament: “Never judge this building by the cover”.

My first and as yet only visit to the Scottish Parliament was full of profound surprises, the three-hour experience as monumental as the building itself. Continue reading “The essence of democracy”

Opening Doors to Scottish Parliament

Members of the Opening Doors shadow scheme met Malcolm Chisholm, Minister for Communities, for a glimpse behind the scenes at the Scottish Parliament on Friday (15 December).


Pictured in the Garden Lobby, from the left: Subash Punn, Fay Young, Asha Pall, Malcolm Chisholm, Dougie Kerr and Celina Mbwiria (Nick Gardner is behind the camera).

Both sides learned something new. For Malcolm it was a chance to join the ‘shadows’ on an official guided tour round the building for the first time – as a Minister and the MSP for Edinburgh North and Leith he usually has a different view of the debating chamber and committee rooms. For the visiting party (which included Leith Open Space Group members Nick Gardner and Fay Young as well as Asha Pall, Celina Mbwiria, Subash Punn and Councillor Dougie Kerr) it was a chance to see those parts not usually covered by guided tours – the MSP’s offices and the restaurant.

But it was fitting that Malcolm’s tour began with a sculpture he had unveilled the night before to honour the contribution of Scottish women to democracy and human rights. Travelling the Distance, created by artist Shauna McMullan, records the thoughts of women in handwritten sentences which have been sculpted in porcelain. (It is worth remembering that five out of the six Opening Doors pioneers are women.)
Our thanks to Malcolm for giving us all such an informative and enjoyable visit – and a delicious lunch!

A day in the life of a ‘shadow’: our first journal of the week

“For me …politics had always existed in some virtual world far away where politicians meted out decisions that affected people’s lives either positively or negatively.? Celina Mbwiria records her reactions to a first full council meeting.

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Thursday 26th October 2006
A lovely autumn morning. I woke with a purpose and a spring in my step. My colleague and I were to visit the City Chambers in Edinburgh, to observe for the very first time, the workings of a ‘full council meeting’. Continue reading “A day in the life of a ‘shadow’: our first journal of the week”

Out of the shadows

“Any positive contact people have with ethnic groups will help…”

Subash Punn, a community worker currently shadowing Mark Lazarowicz MP, was featured in a positive report in the Evening News about the Opening Doors shadow scheme. “Ethnic Minorities stepping out of the shadows in political link up? 19 October.

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Mark Lazarowicz MP with his two ‘shadows’ Subash Punn and Kasia Raszewska
at the launch of Opening Doors on 5 October

Continue reading “Out of the shadows”

Opening Doors

Welcome to a pioneering project which begins here in Leith but – with luck – will spread much further.

Leith Open Space Group is launching this new community website with news of the Opening Doors shadow scheme. Our aim is to encourage greater ethnic minority representation in both local and national government. But at the same time the scheme will also enable our politicians to gain new insight into the communities they represent.

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Welcoming pioneers at New Kirkgate Centre on 5 October

Continue reading “Opening Doors”