Colleagues pay tribute to equality and human rights champion

The chairperson of Central Scotland Regional Equality (CSREC) Michael Giannandrea has died at the age 77 following a brief illness.

By Herald Reporter
Thursday, 4th April 2019, 10:40 am
Updated Thursday, 4th April 2019, 10:43 am

Passing away on March 30, Michael leaves behind two sons and a daughter and a legacy of standing up for the rights of others when they needed him most.

Michael had been involved in community relations for over forty years.

Coming from a family whose grandparents and great uncles and aunts came to Stirling from Italy in the late 19th and early 20th century to seek a better life, he was very conscious of what it is like to be other and knowing the difficulties his grandparents and their siblings faced, he was determined to do what he could to make it easier for anyone who came to Scotland to improve their lives to fulfil their dreams.

As an officer in Stirling County (later Central Regional) Council School Library Service, he was instrumental in setting up the Region’s first Multicultural Library, with help from colleagues in Glasgow and Birmingham City Libraries and advice from the local ethnic minority communities.

Because of this work, he was asked to chair a group of Scottish Librarians who were committed to developing library services to those in the community who were disadvantaged and who needed extra support.

This led to him acting as chairperson for the Community Services Group of the British Library Association – a role which took him to London, Birmingham and other

major English cities with large ethnic minority populations.

At this time, he was also involved with others in the Central Region in setting up what was the forerunner of CSREC in the early 1970’s and he was involved with CSREC because he was committed to playing his part in developing a community which, though diverse, can live, work and play together and give so much to one another.

He was determined to use the skills and experience he had acquired over the years to the advantage of those in our communities who are most in need of help and he fully subscribed to the tenets of the Equality Act 2010.

Michael was also an active member of Stirling Multicultural Partnership, supported by Stirling Council. This is a group of volunteers, from the diverse ethnic communities in the Stirling area, which meets on a regular basis to plan a series of events which hopefully draws the minority and indigenous communities closer together through knowledge and understanding of the rich cultures in the Stirling area.

Arun Gopinath, CSREC manager, said: “Michael was associated with CSREC and equality work over the past 40 years. He took charge as the chairperson of CSREC five and a half years back in very trying circumstances and he persevered with determination to bring the organisation to where it is today.

“It was Michael’s wish that CSREC should be an organisation that should be a useful and go to organisation for anyone facing inequality and discrimination in Forth Valley. Michael was always keen to speak about equality related issues that were emerging and work proactively to address them.

“It will be very difficult for CSREC to replace Michael but we will do our best to continue his work and we will make every effort in memory and honour him. Michael will be missed by his family, a large number of his admirers and all of us at CSREC.”

Michael’s funeral will be held on Monday, April 8 at 11.30am at Falkirk Cemetery in Dorrator Road, Camelon.