Equality Champions

Equality Champions 2016


Jane Drysdale

I am a Community Education Worker with West Lothian Council. For the past eight years I have supported The Glitter Cannons, a youth group for LGBT young people and their allies, aged between 13 and 25 years. Activities include project based work, such as sponsored charity events, live music events, poetry reading and writing, arts and crafts, guest speakers, fun games and trivia quizzes. The G C group made history in July 2015, as we organised and facilitated the first Pride march ever to be held in West Lothian.  WL Pride is now an annual event and subsequently, the second march took place on 30th July 2016 and was very well attended. As the principles of inclusion and equality for all underpin the ethos of the Glitter Cannons, the group is dedicated to improving the health and well-being of all young people in West Lothian, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion or support needs.

I was inspired to become a Community Education Worker in the hope that I could help make the world a better place – as Nelson Mandela once said “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”. However it is the young people who have changed my world for the better. Every day I find myself in awe of their courage, resilience and determination, and it is a pleasure and a privilege to work with the young people of West Lothian.

Naina Minhas

Living in Scotland I have been fortunate to contribute to the local communities through my work and opportunities as a volunteer.

I started to volunteer with the International Women’s Centre and the Multicultural Centre in Edinburgh in as a narrator for the welfare rights video produced and at the same time Joined Welfare Rights Office as a volunteer. I also volunteered with Shakti Women’s Aid and Saheliya to support their initial years of development.  As a chair of the Indian Dance Collective I worked to promote South Asian culture in Edinburgh.

I have volunteered with the Edinburgh Mela, Red Cross, Moon Walk Charity, Scottish Charity walk, MacMillan, St. Columba’s Hospice, Nepal Fundraising Event, fundraising for the Syrian refugees and for the St. Columba’s Hospice.

As part of work, I have been anti-racist youth worker where I developed and delivered anti-racist programme all over Edinburgh in youth clubs and schools.  I worked as a translator in Edinburgh and as a researcher for ELREC; identifying the needs of ethnic minority women in West Lothian and went on to set up the first ever EM women’s group in Livingston.   I also trained as a first EM tutor for the course; Health Issues in the community and took over 40 women in Edinburgh through the course.

I have since worked with a wonderful team to bring NKS to a level where it is now.  Also identified the lack of female Bangladeshi community workers and trained six Bangladeshi women to become community workers. Trained 10 women to be group leaders and most are actively involved in running groups.

Khalid Mir

Mr Mir has been a committed member of the community, working hard to raise awareness and combat issues faced by the South Asian Communities in Edinburgh and Lothians.

He helps drive the organisation’s strategic programming, growth and mission fulfilment. Mr Mir actively assists in development through regular meetings, project based support and sharing resources.

Mr Mir is very actively involved in many community’s organisations, giving his time to raise awareness and promote the rights of those most in need. He is a very well known, respected and popular individual within in the South Asian Community.

Mr Mir has built a great rapport with Milan staff, offering continuous support and invaluable advice in all areas of work.

Mr Mir is one of the founders of the Portobello and Annandale Mosque, which is a great achievement.

Indumati Pandya

Mrs Pandya has a very cheerful and welcoming personality and always smiling.

She is committed to giving back to the community through charity work.

She has served as a member of the chairperson for NKS and is serving on various boards of organisations focused on the South Asian Community.

Member of the board of directors for NKS

Member of the board of directors for Milan for over 10 years.

Member of the Board of Directors for MECOOP.

Mrs Pandya is a very active, respectable and well know member of the  local Hindu Temple.

We are very proud to have Mrs Pandya as Milan Board Member, being a source of inspiration for staff, clients and volunteers.

She has been involved in activities such as cooking classes at the day care centre and organising local trips.

Mrs Pandya has and is continuously providing the organisation with support and guidance


Manjari Singh

She has been based in Edinburgh since 2000 and working actively within the community since 2001 especially in terms of promoting Indian culture within Edinburgh. Always keen to engage with new people coming to Edinburgh and help them integrate with  the existing community and ready to provide all the help.

She has supported and mentored volunteers for many Indian community initiatives within Edinburgh.

She organises kids’ activities within the community during school holidays and provides supports to working parents.

She supports people recently arrived in Edinburgh by providing helping hands e.g giving information on school, letting agents so that kids and family and settle well in the new city.

She has shown a very positive attitude towards any programmes in bringing people together be in the form of festivals, fund raising for social cause or any community events.

She has demonstrated her organising skills over the years for community events and currently a Committee member of Scottish Indian Arts Forum.

Supports other communities like TAS and ELREC with her knowledge, providing helping hands and organising volunteers

An active member in Edinburgh Hindu Mandir where she encourages the diversity within Indians to celebrate all different festival and others gaining diverse cultural knowledge from India.

Promoting small business by supporting them through social media to avail the benefits.

Organised an Indian 40 amateur ladies show at Traquair House, Innerleithen , Peebles for Indian themed Traquair fair  in 2nd Sep 2003  for Folk Dance of India, which boosted the confidence in Indian housewives.

Supported and worked in Nari Kallayan Sangho Indian community Youth project.
Helped finding more than 100 Indians for the Diabetes screening project in 2008
PODOSA (Prevention of Diabetes and Obesity in South Asians) Study Assistant
Partnership project with NKS & Edinburgh University to promote PODOSA study in the South Asian Community and recruit eligible participants to the 1st stage of the study.

Worked with Enable Scotland which support learning disabled people across Scotland.
Volunteered for charity’s like When you wish upon a star, Barnardos Scotland , Hand up events to organise Ethical Christmas fair , Scottish SPCA , Edinburgh Public Diwali event in Princess Street garden .

Before arriving at Edinburgh in 2000

General Secretary of prestigious college of Patna, Patna women’s college in 95- 98 batch. Supported Rotary club Patna branch in various projects.

Helped educate the poor children of Patna slums area. Actively participated in Inter College women’s Association for years http://icwapatna.org/


Ghazala Farooq


Mrs Farooq has been actively involved in Community work since she arrived in the UK, dedicating herself to the issues of the South Asian communities.

She worked many years with the Education Department with the vision of providing everyone with an equal opportunity.

Assessing the needs of the community she was one of the first people to work with the |Health Department to initiate an interpreting service so benefit those most at need and to ensure they rights are being recognised.

Mrs Farooq is a well-known and respected individual gained through years of work and the commitment shown for various areas of work. She was passionately involved in her role as Immigration Officer to ensure that people were given equal and fair opportunities to exercise their rights by raising awareness and supporting people through the complicated legal systems.

Mrs Farooq is very empathic towards the needs of women from the South Asian communities and has created awareness of this sensitive area of work by ensuring there is appropriate support in place at times of need.

Having dedicated her life to community work, it was a delight when Mrs Farooq joined Milan as trustee member to work towards securing provisions for the elderly BME communities. Having a wealth of information in issues affecting the wider BME communities she has provided Milan board and staff with support and guidance to ensure services delivered are next to none.

Mrs Farooq has been a committed trustee of Milan serving as Chair and Vice-Chair and meeting with statutory organisations to ensure the voices and needs of the BME elderly are highlighted so appropriate services are in place.


Zarina Ahmad

CEMVO Scotland identified the lack of Ethnic minorities involved in environmental projects specifically on Climate Change. After discussions with Scottish Government and consultation CEMVO was brought in to work in partnership with Keep Scotland Beautiful KSB to do some targeted work with the EM sector.  At this time, early 2013, only 3 projects had been funded through the Climate Challenge Fund, since then CEMVO have engaged with over 150 community organisations, 75 development grants awarded and 48 projects have been fully funded

How much has been secured for the sector?

£5.9 million has been awarded

How many jobs has it created? Approximately 150 jobs – 50 projects x 3 employed staff

How many volunteers? Difficult to quantify as a number of projects classify individuals taking part in activities and attending workshops as volunteers. However not taking this into consideration the number of volunteers is easily twice the number of paid staff, so approx. 300 plus

What climate change impact has these projects had?

There has been a great movement and conscious awareness of Climate Change and its impacts both here in Scotland and across the globe.

Initiatives such as upcycling, reusing, energy efficiency advice and measures, as well as encouraging car sharing and alternative low carbon modes of travel have all contributed to a reduction in CO2 emissions helping Scottish Government reach its ambitious targets for 2020.

Also individuals have been upskilled and trained giving them the confidence to participate in policy decision making and key stakeholder events in the environmental sector ie Fairer Greener Consultations,  Climate Summit Paris 2015  consultation, Climate Conversations, Scottish Government’s Climate Action Plan, and the Food Policy.

The Environmental projects and activities are the strongest aspects of all the EM community groups we work with.

The Funding has allowed the majority of these groups to grow in terms of staff employment, activities delivered, increase in service users, engagement with wider stakeholders and environmental agencies, and accessing other funding.

As a result of the good partnership model with KSB and CEMVO’s outreach engagement  it has attracted other funders and agencies from the environmental sector to work more closely with CEMVO and the EM sector through identifying their own gaps in engagement.

We have developed a partnership with Forestry Commission, and been a delivery partner for Sniffer, Energy Saving Trust , CIFAL, Nourish and Nidos


Jessica Yang

Ms Jessica (Zonghong) Yang is originally from Beijing, China. She moved to the U K in 2000. Having first gained a degree in music, she then graduated with a Masters degree in tourism management at Napier University. She runs a tourism business in Edinburgh mainly for business exchange and arts performance groups between China and the UK.

For 10 years she has volunteered with the Chinese community to promote Chinese culture and performing arts in Scotland. She also teaches dance classes. She founded the Edinburgh Chinese Arts Association (ECAA) in 2012.  Since then the group has performed at the Edinburgh Fringe, Jazz Festival Parade, Edinburgh Mela, community events in Scotland, Chinese New year Gala etc to improve Edinburgh as a multi-ethnic/cultural city. She recently produced a successful performance of Chinese dance, music and performance for ECAA to raise funds for the charity Breast Cancer Care Scotland.


Mahendra Kumar Agarwal

Mahendra was born in Lahore in 1937. After the upheaval of the The Partition his family settled in Delhi where he attended Delhi College

Mahendra migrated to the UK in 1962 where he settled in Edinburgh. He managed the India Tea Centre in Edinburgh until 1970

Mahendra married Neena in 1971 and they had two children, who are now settled in London

His experience at the Tea Centre led him to purse an entrepreneurial career in food in the early 1970’s and 1980’s. Over these two decades he developed the emerging Indian Restaurant scene in Edinburgh where he owned and managed several restaurants. This reach was extended to Brussels where he also owned a restaurant in the 1970’s

Mahendra was also a pioneer in the chilled ready to eat curry market. He ran a food production factory in the 1980’s. He went on to own a variety businesses throughout the following decades. In such diverse sectors as retail, food distribution and a Post Office

Mahendra has always maintained his business and cultural ties with India. He has been involved in the Edinburgh Indian Association since he arrived in the 1960’s, acted as Indian team liaison during the Commonwealth Games and laterally he has been involved in the Edinburgh Hindu Mandir and Cultural Centre.

After a long career, Mahendra is now retired and continues to live in Edinburgh with his wife Neena. He participates in community life whenever he can.

Humayun Kabir

He studied psychology in Dhaka University. After he came in Edinburgh he has been involved himself with various kind of community works in Edinburgh. He is working as a media journalist since 2008. He worked with many television channels. Presently he is working with Channel I. He and channel i promoting the community continuously.


(Postomous) Mrs Kamrun Nahar Malik

Mrs Kamrun Nahar Malik (70) passed away on Monday 9:40pm at Royal Infirmary Edinburgh after long time illness. She is wife of renowned community leader Late Abdul Malik lived in Edinburgh since 1978.  She was first Bangladeshi women who was involved with NKS and supported many Bangladeshi families.  She was the founding chair of NKS

Aileen Orr

Aileen Orr was born and raised in Lockerbie before going on to study at the London School of Economics. After working for the Bank of America she joined and headed a new political team as regional director of the Countryside Alliance. She is now an advisor to Michael Russell MSP. She does what she does in the name of Wojtek.

The story of Wojtek the bear has fascinated and entertained millions, however, few see his darker story, the one which mirrors so many around the world.  A Syrian Brown, picked up in Iran, who travelled through Iraq, Palestine, Egypt, Italy and effectively became a refugee in Scotland. The story has two distinct areas Aileen works in, those are people who have come to Scotland to live either by choice or displacement.  Aileen’s work with schools especially, and through Wojtek ‘s story, helps children to understand why children from other countries, or who have families from abroad,  are living in their communities.  The talks that Aileen gives to adults mirror that too.

The second aspect of what Aileen does is raise awareness to Animals in War.  The contribution they made, and the effect they have on those around them.  In addition, Many children in bombed out communities, who have seen so much horror, are forced to leave their pets which is distressing.  On speaking to phycologists who work with refugee children, they have found giving a child a cuddly toy often helps them sleep, and de stress.  On the back of that, Aileen has created A Million Teddies for Wojtek which collects bears for children worldwide, but especially in the countries Wojtek was associated with including Syria.

After commissioning the Wojtek Memorial in Princes Street Gardens Aileen created The Wojtek Memorial Trust that is currently being wound up and she has now created Wojtek Scotland Ltd which will oversee more Wojtek projects including a Hollywood film. The idea to is to keep the story of the bear as pure as it was to enlighten and encourage greater integration within all communities in Scotland.


Humza Yousaf MSP – absent

Humza Yousaf is a Scottish National Party politician. He is the current Minister of the Scottish Government for Transport and the Islands. Before this position, he was the Minister for External Affairs and International Development in 2012, which was then renamed Minister for Europe and International Development. He studied at Glasgow University, where he graduated in 2007 with an MA in Politics.

He was elected in the Scottish Parliament in 2011: at the age of 25 he was the youngest MSP to be elected to the Scottish Parliament.

Mr Yousaf has been very active in community work and charitable activities since he was a teenager. He was the volunteer media spokesperson for the charity Islamic Relief,[3] worked for community radio for 12 years and on a project which provided food packages to the homeless and asylum seekers in Glasgow.


Cllr. Bryan Pottinger

Bryan Pottinger is Councillor in Midlothian for the Labour Party. He is the Equality Champion of Midlothian Council. He is member of Midlothian Peoples Equality Group (MPEG).

Mr Bryan Pottinger has established the Equal Opportunities committee in Midlothian Council in 1995 and he is currently the Chair.

He is an elected member the Equality Champion of Midlothian Council since 2014. He is advisor and supporter of MPEG.

Mr. Pottinger is trained in equality and anti-discrimination law via unite trade union.

He became a councillor in 1995. Currently he represents Midlothian south ward of Midlothian Council.

Tom Halpin

Tom Halpin took up his appointment as Chief Executive at Sacro on 17 August 2009. Prior to this, he was Deputy Chief Constable of Lothian & Borders Police having joined from Strathclyde Police in 2005 where he was Divisional Commander for North Glasgow and previously Head of CID Operations.

Tom Halpin is currently a member of the Scottish Government’s Reducing Re-offending Programme Board and chairs the Criminal Justice Voluntary Sector Forum. He is also a member of the Scottish Consortium on Crime and Criminal Justice, and a Council Member of the Scottish Association for Studying Offending, both influential ‘think-tanks’ on such matters drawn from established professionals including academics, policy makers, sentencers and leading practitioners.