Equality Champions 2015


Mohammed Aslam

As founding member and ex-Chairperson, the well-being of ELREC has always been close to my heart. I recall past members who were involved at the time I was active at ELREC but who are no longer with us, in particular Lord Yousaf Inait and Ben Yuen. They are sorely missed.

I would like to congratulate the current Staff and Board for their hard work and dedication in carrying out their duties in supporting Edinburgh and the Lothians vulnerable communities.

When I was involved with ELREC its focus was primarily Race Relations, supporting the Migrant communities settled in the Lothians. We worked a lot with Edinburgh Council and the Lothian and Borders Police. Since then ELREC has expanded its remit to include the other Equality groups that have also been unjustly treated by those in positions of power and authority. The fight for Equality is a fight for Justice and must continue, more so now than in the past, especially as the political climate has changed since Brexit and the coming to power of more Right-Wing political groups.

As a representative of the ‘Pakistan Association, Edinburgh and the East of Scotland’, a long standing member of ELREC, I would like to wish ELREC all the very best for its future. ELREC has sailed through many turbulent waters overs the years and yet has managed to stay afloat. This is testament to the much needed and sterling work it has done over the years, supporting vulnerable individuals seeking redress and supporting organisations understand and implement Equality Law. Well done all and keep up the good work.

Sarah Boyack MSP

Sarah Boyack is a Scottish Labour politician, former MSP for Edinburgh Central. She was brought up in Edinburgh but studied for an MA Honours Degree in Politics and Modern History at Glasgow University.

She was elected in the Scottish Parliament in 1999, and became Minister for the Environment, Planning and Transport until 2000. She then became Minster for Transport until 2001. In 2007 she was Minister for the Environment.

In November 2004 Ms. Boyack received the RSPB Goldcrest Award for her contribution to the development of environmental policy in Scotland and in December 2005 was named the Scottish Renewables Best Politician. In 2016 Scottish Parliament election, she lost the Edinburgh Central seat to the leader of the Scottish Conservatives Party.

In her last five years in the Scottish Parliament she was Convenor of the Cross Party Group (CPG) on International Development, and Co Convenor of the CPG on Energy Efficiency and Renewables and the CPG on Cycling.

Ruth Davidson MSP

Ruth was raised in Fife and educated at Buckhaven High School and Edinburgh University.

Prior to entering politics Ruth worked in journalism for ten years – first in newspapers, before moving to radio and television. The majority of her time was spent at the BBC working in news and current affairs as a presenter, reporter and producer. Ruth entered the Scottish Parliament on the Glasgow regional list in 2011. Following the resignation of Annabel Goldie, Ruth was elected leader of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party in November of that year.

In May 2016 she was re-elected as the constituency MSP for Edinburgh Central and now leads the official Opposition party at Holyrood. In October, Ruth was invited to Buckingham Palace where she was made a member of Her Majesty’s Privy Council.

Kezia Dugdale MSP

Kezia Dugdale was born in 1981 in Aberdeen.  She studied Law at the University of Aberdeen before completing a Masters degree in Public Policy at the University of Edinburgh. She was first elected as a MSP for the Lothian Region in 2011, and then re-elected in 2016. In 2015 she became the Leader of the Scottish Labour Party. Kezia is a Scottish Labour Co-operative MSP in the Scottish Parliament and currently co-chairs the group on Children and Young People.

Kezia set up and led the Debtbusters campaign aimed at tackling payday loan companies street by street. As a result the Scottish Government to start producing ‘wealth warnings’ on the dangers of these predatory legal loan sharks, banned them from many local authority computers and forced the Scottish Government to change the law around debt and introducing the Fast Track Debt Assistance Scheme.

Kezia also set up and led the Scottish Labour campaign Every Step, the campaign for affordable and flexible childcare, which assisted in developing Scottish Labour’s policy on providing a better childcare system in Scotland.

Cllr Lesley Hinds

Cllr Lesley Hinds congratulates ELREC on its second awards dinner. Lesley first became a Councillor in 1984 and currently represents Edinburgh’s Inverleith ward. She has held numerous positions in the Council, including Leader and Lord Provost and she is now Convener of the Transport and Environment Committee.

Lesley has represented the Council in numerous public and private sector organisations, such as Edinburgh’s Telford College, Pilton Partnership, Dance Base, Edinburgh Fairtrade City, One City Trust and the City of Literature.

A previous Chair of Edinburgh’s Mela, she has campaigned on equalities issues over a number of years and continues to be an ardent supporter of ELREC. Her commitment was acknowledged by an award at our first awards dinner in January.

Dinesh Joshi MBE

I am deeply honoured and humbled to have this opportunity to provide this message of support for the excellent work that Edinburgh and Lothians Regional Equality Council has been doing over the years for all the communities and especially the marginalised communities and their families in the Lothians. Having been a member of the Race Equality Forum of the City of Edinburgh Council, The Chief Constable’s Diversity Steering Group, Vice Chairperson of SEMPERscotland and Secretary of the Edinburgh Indian Association I was actively involved with the community and as a recognition of my services to the community I was honoured and awarded an MBE by Her Majesty The Queen.

Having occupied  various positions in the organisation and finally being its Chairman gave me great pride and joy at the changes we managed to bring about to make our society a better place to live in where all irrespective of colour, cast, creed, disablement or sexual orientation can live in harmony. The work still goes on. The good work in empowering individuals from all walks of life to achieve great goals and be recognised deserves nothing less than an award of excellence and your continued work in training them in these areas will not go unnoticed. You have in my opinion overcome the change you want to see and I would like to congratulate all those who have been involved in organising this event and bring the work of Edinburgh and Lothians Regional Equality Council to the fore.

Rohini Sharma Joshi

Rohini Sharma Joshi is the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Manager of Trust Housing Association and manages the award winning EDI Programme.

Happy to Translate initiative spearheaded by Rohini as an innovative solution for helping people who speak little or no English to communicate more effectively with service providers.

She has been the Chair of Edinburgh & Lothian Racial Equality Council, a member of the Diversity Advisory Committee for the Crown Office, and is the current Chair of Nari Kallyan Shangho (an organisation for the welfare of south Asian women) and W1 Minority Ethnic Women in Scotland. She is also  member of Equality Advisory Group set up by the Scottish Court Service and a member of the Scottish Commission on Older Women. She has been a member of the Advisory Group for the development of the Scottish Government’s Ageing Population Strategy and the Scottish Housing Charter Sounding Board. Currently she is a member of the Scottish Older People Assembly. She was selected by the British Council for the InterAction Leadership programme, Jordon, Egypt and Scotland 2008-09 as one of 25 representatives from Scotland.

In March 2012, she was awarded the “Robina Goodlad Woman Achievers in Housing Award”.  She was also awarded (Feb 2013) “Outstanding Contribution to Scottish Society” award at the first Scottish Asian Woman Association Awards ceremony.

Alex Salmond MP

Alexander Elliot Anderson Salmond was born in Linlithgow in 1954. He attended Linlithgow Academy and studied at St Andrew’s University, where he graduated with a joint honours MA in Economics and History.

He entered frontline politics in 1987 as MP for Banff & Buchan in Aberdeenshire, and in 1990 he was elected as National Convenor of the SNP and served as leader of the opposition in the Scottish Parliament. In 2000, he stood down as leader of the SNP but continued to serve his constituents as an MP for Banff and Buchan and as an MSP until 2001.

Alex Salmond made political history by becoming the first nationalist to be elected First Minister of Scotland in the period from 2007 to 2014.

He currently serves as the SNP’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson in Westminster, and continues to promote Scotland on the world stage and shaping new relationships between Scotland and the global community. He is also a board member of the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation.


Mohammed Shaffi MBE

Tanzanian-born Mohammed Shaffi is a well-known personality and respectable figure within the community. He is the eldest of 8 children and in 1961 at the age of 21, he set his heart on Scotland and embarked on this new chapter in his life. Over the years Mr Shaffi continued to establish himself in Scotland, setting up multiple businesses in both Glasgow and Edinburgh. During this time he continued to support his family in Kenya, creating a life here for his family to join him.

Once his own 5 children had grown, he saw a need in the Ethnic Minority community. As a result in 1983 the Pakistan Society Advice and Information Services (PSAIS) was founded with his support. He was a Director of the Edinburgh Mela.  His work was not only recognised and appreciated by the local community; in 2002 he was awarded a honour of MBE by the Queen as well as a Good Citizen Award in 1997.

After being one of the longest serving chairpersons of the Society he decided to retire and spend time with his grandchildren. He is Honorary President of the Pakistan Society, providing guidance and support when necessary.

Dr. Wali Tasar Uddin MBE

Dr Wali Tasar Uddin is the current President of the European Bangladesh Federation of Commerce & Industry based in Brussels, Belgium.

Dr Uddin is the Chairman and Chief Co-ordinator of the Sylhet Women’s Medical College & Hospital (SWMCH), owned by Holy Sylhet Holding Ltd, Sylhet, Bangladesh, since July 2006. SWMCH provides the highest standard of medical education and health care.

He was the first Bangladeshi Justice of the Peace in 1984 and was appointed as the first Honorary Consul of Bangladesh in Scotland in 1993.

In 1995 he received an MBE for his services to race relations and in 2005 was named as one of the Asian Power 100. Junior Chamber voted him Young Scot of the year in 1992. Currently he serves as a Senior Adviser, BRAC UK Vision Bangladesh.

For his distinguished work in the area of business, Queen Margaret University College awarded him an Honorary Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA). ). In 2007 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters (D.Litt) degree by the Heriot-Watt University in recognition of his outstanding contribution to community in Scotland and Bangladesh. Edinburgh Napier University awarded him Doctor of the University, D.Uni.