Paisley academic helps develop app to support ethnic minority communities

A Paisley academic who helped develop an app to support ethnic minorities during the Covid-19 pandemic has been recognised for his commitment to diversity and inclusion.

UWS Professor, Muhammad Zeeshan Shakir won the STEM Inspiring Diversity and Inclusion award, in recognition of his research and contribution to supporting a diverse and inclusive Scotland, through the development of ‘Stay Safe Scotland’.

Funded by the Council of Ethnic Minority Voluntary Sector Organisations (CEMVO) Scotland and Scottish government, the app sought to overcome major barriers faced by ethnic minority communities in Scotland by providing social distancing guidelines in a variety of different languages and predicting footfall data at nearly 100 supermarkets throughout the country, to help users schedule visits at quieter times, and to avoid queuing and overcrowding.

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Professor Shakir, of the university’s School of Computing Engineering and Physical Sciences, which is based in Paisley, said: “I am truly humbled and delighted to receive this award, in recognition of my research and development of the Stay Safe Scotland app. I am blown away by the support that we have in Scotland for ethnic minority educators – at all levels.

“I also want to pay a special gratitude to all my incredibly talented students and post doctorates for their contributions in this project and beyond. The awards ceremony was wonderful, with many brilliant achievements across the sector celebrated.”

Also recognised for his commitment to diversity and inclusion was Tom Caira, also of the School of Computing Engineering and Physical Sciences, who picked up the Breaking Barriers award, which celebrates an individual who has been an inspirational and effective role model to others through driving reform, campaigning and being an agent of change.

Tom Caira says he is “deeply honoured”
(Image: Halo Media)

Mr Caira said: “I am deeply honoured to be recognised as an inspirational role model in regard to equality, diversity and inclusion. Each award nominee is deserving of recognition and appreciation, and I would like to congratulate everyone involved.”

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The awards ceremony took place at Glasgow’s Radisson Blu hotel and celebrated the commitment, efforts, progress, achievements and triumphs of unsung heroes across minority ethnic communities in Scotland.

Khadija Mohammed, Chair of SAMEE, said: “It was a huge honour to hold the SAMEE Appreciation and Recognition Awards and shine a light on the incredible work of colleagues across the sector.”

“It was a privilege to recognise the work of Professor Shakir and Mr Caira to reduce inequality – the judging panel were unanimous in their decisions to select deserving winners.”

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Daily Record – Paisley