Irfan Rabbani, is a former Glasgow City Councillor and is Chair of The Hidden Gardens. He also doubles as a football coach with Glasgow ANSAR.
Irfan discusses why he is passionate about the right to self- determine his future and the future of the people of Scotland.
He speaks candidly about his background and family life where his father is the patriarch of the family.
Mr Rabbani Senior is immensely respected and a pioneer from amongst the earliest Pakistani immigrant community in Glasgow. He has commanded loyalty and respect based on the wide relationships he has formed and for working selflessly for the betterment of the wider community. He is the role model Irfan aspires to. Irfan has a strong bond with his father who has always challenged him to realise his potential whether it was in business with him or later in politics.
You may understand my surprise when Irfan proudly mentions that he has three grown up children and is a proud grandfather to another three, as he himself is a very young looking fifty year old. He speaks with great joy of his three children. His eldest graduated with an accountancy degree and is now a successful businessman, married with a daughter. Irfan’s daughter is a homemaker and busy mum of two boys, whilst his youngest son is a Law graduate. He is at a stage in his life where he is content and enjoying his family and working actively to help achieve independence for Scotland.
Mr Rabbani Senior and his family came to Glasgow in 1962 from Pakistan when Irfan was five months old. He has lived, been schooled in, and worked all his life in Pollokshields, in the southside of Glasgow. It is therefore not surprising to know why he is such a passionate advocate for a progressive Pollokshields and the wonderfully diverse community is something which is very dear to his heart.
He has happy memories of Pollokshields Primary School and then studying at Bellahouston Academy. Post education due to his father’s ill health, Irfan followed him into the family business, even though he felt his own strengths lay elsewhere.
Belatedly he took an opportunity to pursue his passion of working with people in the late 1980’s with the Social Work Department in Glasgow. Working with people with mental health issues required great sensitivity and understanding. Later Irfan facilitated in the process of helping people integrate back into the community as long stay institutions such as Lennox Castle Hospital closed.
He believed strongly in assisting people take ownership of their own lives, make their own decisions, contrasting with the isolation and stigma they had previously endured in such institutions.
He has worked tirelessly with service providers to engage disaffected young people through mediums such as sport to draw youngsters to education and training, helping them find jobs and increasing their confidence and self- worth.
His passion in communities was ignited when he saw the destructive, demoralising aftermath suffered by communities when traditional industries such as steel, car making, mining were decimated by the actions of the Conservative Government, now known infamously as the Thatcher years throughout Scotland.
“We are still trying to recover from that crippling legacy a generation later….”
Irfan ran summer camps during the school holidays for children aged five to eight, and eight to fifteen years old. Parents were actively involved in their child’s wellbeing through interaction at the end of a day writing up their child’s holiday diary. This allowed conversations to take place with their children and raised awareness of what was being offered at the camps and ensured active parental participation.
In 2007, he became a somewhat initially reluctant politician. He has a great affinity with young people, who encouraged him to stand and were his staunchest allies along with his father and son, in pushing him forward to electoral victory as a councillor in Pollokshields.
His campaign became a catalyst for young people to take ownership and showed the positive power that they bring to affect change. They saw in him someone who would listen, understand and encourage change and help with the process for young people to gain a voice.
He never needed until now to vocalise that quiet inner voice that wanted the best for his community, for Glasgow, for Scotland, but has shown this through his actions and work in the community.
“I have become more and more disillusioned by how the people of Scotland’s wishes are ignored at Westminster, where they are consistently dismissive of our views and opinions. This has to change.”
Irfan sees the positives of devolution for Scotland and feels strongly that these positives can only be enhanced further by independence. As a lad he kicked a football around the streets of Glasgow, and its where all his family still live. Scotland is his home. The passion is sincere and clear when he says
“Let Scotland move forward to independence, let us make our own choices, drive our own successes, realise our own potential at home and on the world stage. Let the people of Scotland make the decisions by which we have to live with, whether that is on how we will manage the future of the National Health Service, how we treat the most vulnerable in society, and let us write our own definition of social justice. If we make our own choices we can decide whether to have nuclear arms or whether we wish to participate in illegal wars. Let us determine what is best for ourselves and for each other in Scotland and how we relate to the wider world on our own terms. We can only do that if we have full autonomy and the right to self-govern which all independent nations possess.”
For him independence is a natural and needed progression from devolution.