Coalition for Racial Equality & Rights

Kashain Arshad: Shadowing Scheme

Shadowing Scheme – Day 1 – Kashain Arshad

Excitement. Fear. Anxiety. All of which were emotions I was experiencing the night prior to my first day shadowing. I felt ill prepared even though I had prepared. I knew I had done as much research about my mentor as I possibly well could have but still felt that I had very little to take with me.

I had everything prepared. My suit ironed and my bag packed. I had such a sleepless night going through everything that could possibly have gone wrong. What is my alarm didn’t go off? What if I missed my train or my train was late? Punctuality is very key to me and I dislike tardiness, so imagine my fear of turning up late!

I knew, as well, turning up late was not an option. Originally meant to be showing up at 10:30am, I got a call the day before asking if I could turn up at 9:30am because I was to attend a conference with Jim Eadie.

The morning came and I got ready, still with excitement, fear and anxiety. I got on the train, contemplating what was going to happen in the day. Having arrived in Edinburgh, I was amazed by how beautiful the city was and how much it has meant to me ever since I was a child. Now a significant part of my life would be spent in this fine city. I was mesmerised by the beauty of Holyrood on my entry.

I went to the Visitor’s desk and gave my name and was told to wait for someone from Jim Eadie’s office to come get me. Time went slow and seconds turned into minutes. But it was actually quite quickly that Joy came and introduced herself. Before I could ask her any questions, straight away she asked how my wife was keeping during her pregnancy. At that point, I knew that I was in good hands and I had someone very sociable to learn from.

Of course, I still had no idea how Jim would take to me until we reached his office and he had A View To a Kill by Duran Duran playing in the background whilst doing his brief for today’s conference. A very relaxed, chilled out politician with good musical taste must surely be a good sign!

We had very little time to make introductions as we had to dash to the conference. He gave me a summary of the conference and asked me to highlight the key points and was impressed that I bullet pointed what key points were for him to mention during his panel debate.

The conference took place only few minutes away from Holyrood in a separate venue and was hosted by the SFHA or the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations. Unknown to anyone on the political scheme, I was actually on the board of directors for Wishaw Housing Association from a few years back so had some knowledge of what to expect. I looked at the agenda for the conference and looked at the price - £149 for non members and I was given the opportunity to experience this for free so I took everything down as much as I could. I then had the opportunity to listen to the panel debate between Conservatives, Lib Dems, Labour and of course SNP discussing the options for further housing powers and the opportunities and limitations offered by Smith Commission. This debate was hosted by none other than Brian Taylor – the political correspondent for BBC.

Having taken a break for lunch, Jim was eager to introduce me to Brian, but whilst he was speaking to few other people, I spoke to Brian myself as he is a friend of my sister-in-law’s mum from years back so was good to have a quick catch up. He spoke highly of Jim and said I would learn a lot from him.

At about 1:30pm, we headed back to Holyrood and I sat with Jim and his team and I have never laughed so much in a long time, seeing Jim and his team rocking out to Duran Duran and viewing how relaxed Jim was with everyone. He even introduced me to other MSPs including Roseanna Cunningham and Christina McKelvie, before Clare Adamson from my own constituency came along and recognised me, gave me a big hug and wished me luck on the scheme. Then, we walked with Patrick Harvie for a few minutes before heading back to his office! I was in awe and so grateful for such a great day. He asked me if there was anyone in particular I wanted to see and as a member of SNP, I wanted to meet Nicola Sturgeon and he said that this might be possible tomorrow when I attend his Committee meeting on Infrastructure and Capital Investment. WOW! That would be the cherry on top of my ice cream if I was offered the opportunity to meet the First Minister. He asked me about my political background and we mentioned Humza Yousaf as part of my reasoning for joining with SNP and he said he is adamant that we’ll try and have a get together with Humza as well.

2:30pm came and Jim had to attend Chambers, so I shadowed his team, Joy and Patrick and Joy threw me in at the deep end and printed off an e-mail asking me to type up a draft motion. I looked at their previous draft motions for about 10 minutes and researched the organisation on my e-mail before making an attempt at a draft motion. Took me about 20-30 minutes in its entirety to complete and Joy was very positive about how I had done, giving a little bit of feedback about what should be included or excluded for future reference.

Before I knew it, the day had come to an end. I was allowed to leave at 4:30 to make my direct train back at 5:10 but I was experiencing other emotions. This time not fear or anxiety. The excitement was still there abut there was a hint of sadness. I really had such a great day, that I didn’t want to leave, I wanted to keep learning. If I was thrown into deep end today and having fun while I was at it, I am curious as to what the next session would bring.

For more from Kashain read below:

Shadowing Scheme Day 2

Shadowing Scheme Day 3

Shadowing Scheme Day 4

Shadowing Scheme Day 5

Shadowing Scheme Day 6