Behind the scenes at City Chambers and Parliament

View of George Street under dark blue sky at dusk
Blue sky thinking in George Street? Photo Ross D Strachan, Creative Commons CC NC by ND 2.0

It was fascinating to see how Edinburgh could look in the future if all sides work together to make a modern city with less congestion and more green space.

David Naylor, the latest participant of the Opening Doors shadow scheme, shares his insight into the work of Edinburgh city councillors and members of the Scottish Parliament. Over to David to tell us more…     Continue reading “Behind the scenes at City Chambers and Parliament”

Opening Doors to civic engagement in Edinburgh

Who is Leith Open Space? What is a shadow scheme? Can you get arrested for that?  Is it a mentoring programme? Similar to an internship? Do you get paid? Some of the diverse and rather amusing questions I was asked during my time shadowing on Opening Doors to Democracy, facilitated by Leith Open Space.  Continue reading “Opening Doors to civic engagement in Edinburgh”

Discovering the inner workings of Edinburgh political life

“As a small business owner  I had always wondered how decisions were made by the Council…”

Tracy Griffen signed up with Opening Doors to find out more about local politics. Here she  explains what she learned by shadowing Councillor Nick Gardner at his work in the City Chambers and out and about in the community of Leith Walk.  Our thanks to Tracy for taking part in the shadow scheme and for providing us with such excellent feedback.  Now, over to Tracy… Continue reading “Discovering the inner workings of Edinburgh political life”

Inside out: a view from the shadows

David and Sarah by the stairs in the Scottish Parliament
David Ng Hop with Sarah Boyack MSP at the Scottish Parliament

“It’s never ending”, says David Ng Hop, describing the work of an MSP.  David had asked to take part in the Opening Doors shadow scheme because he wanted to see every aspect of what it means to be a member of the Scottish Parliament.  Here is his report… Continue reading “Inside out: a view from the shadows”

Politics out of the shadow

 

Ola and Malcolm standing in the Scottish Parliament lobby.
Ola Kasprzak with Malcolm Chisholm

Politicians, preoccupied with political rivalry, can forget the most important thing –  the needs of people they represent

Read Ola Kasprzak’s fascinating and forthright report of her experience  of shadowing two politicians in the Scottish Parliament and City of Edinburgh Council – she says they changed her negative opinion of politicians but her conclusions should be read by anyone standing for election this year. Or any other year. Continue reading “Politics out of the shadow”

This is what politics is about

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Sarah Boyack MSP and Francis Kahembwe photographed between meetings on another busy day at Holyrood.

“How interesting  to see kids of 9-11yrs with so much interest in politics. I was exposed to something new which I could communicate to my parliamentary friends in Uganda.”

During his last few days as a ‘shadow’ in the Scottish Parliament, Francis Kahembwe somehow found time to keep a diary. Here is his fascinating observation of Scottish politics at work – and his hope for the future. Continue reading “This is what politics is about”

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.?

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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”

A helping hand

My aim is to encourage Sikh women to be more involved in politics. I wanted to be able to show how we can help to influence decisions that have an impact on our lives.

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“As a Scottish Sikh I can see both sides of the coin.”


It’s a cold winter day but a warm and spicy smell greets you as soon as you open the door. Wednesday is curry day at Dr Bell’s Family Centre in Leith and that is why Asha Devi Singh suggested meeting here for lunch.

Over a delicious plate of chick pea and potato curry with poppadom and coriander relish on the side, Asha explains why she decided to take part in the Opening Doors Shadow Scheme. “My aim is to encourage Sikh women to be more involved in politics,? she says, “I wanted to be able to show how we can help to influence decisions that have an impact on our lives.? Continue reading “A helping hand”

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”

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”