Raza Sadiq, chairman and founding member of the Active Life Club, a charity promoting inclusion through the life-changing power of sport, has been recognised with an honorary degree from The Open University (OU) in Scotland.
The event took place on Friday 29 September 2023 at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, as part of the OU in Scotland’s degree ceremonies where 700 graduates crossed the stage to receive their degrees.
Born in a small village in Pakistan, Raza moved to Glasgow in 1989. Despite a degree and a ten year career in aeronautical engineering, he struggled to find work and spent several years in low paid and low skill employment. Raza decided to return to education and gained a distinction in his higher national diploma in technology and management.
During this time Raza Sadiq began to build strong relationships across the Pakistani community in Glasgow and got involved in community advocacy work, helping people overcome practical challenges in healthcare, mental health and employability.
Increasingly, he began to see his future in tackling inequality and injustice after completing post-graduation diploma in equality and discrimination, and undertook further study, gaining post-graduate qualifications in careers advice, information and guidance, and business management.
Raza Sadiq now works as a Careers Adviser at Skills Development Scotland.
In 1999, Raza founded the Active Life Club while studying a community development course, “to empower young people through sport” and create opportunities for people to get involved in civic participation.
Beginning with badminton sessions, today the club offers a whole range of sports, including outdoor activities, volunteering and leadership opportunities to hundreds of people every year. It serves diverse and disadvantaged communities across Glasgow, promoting healthier lifestyles and better mental health.
Raza has also provided his expertise and experience on tackling racism to a whole range of other bodies. He has served as an advisor to British Transport Police at Scottish and national levels, helping them to improve policing in ways which support better relationships with different communities.
Raza was also one of the founding members of the Running Out Racism campaign in 2021, which raised awareness of the prevalence of racial discrimination in Scottish cricket and is currently serving on their Equality Diversity Inclusion Advisory Group.
He is chairperson of the Scottish Black Members Committee, which is leading Unison’s Year of Black Workers in Scotland. He provided years of service to the Glasgow Council for the Voluntary Sector and is now a committee member for Scotland’s BBC Children in Need Appeal.
Raza has been recognised many times for his outstanding service to the community: from being a baton bearer for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, to having received multiple awards including Diversity Hero in The Herald & Gen Analytics 1999, Platinum Champion at Queen's Jubilee, Community Hero of the Year in the Scottish Sport Awards 2022 and receiving the 2023 lifetime achievement award from the YouthLink Scotland.
The Open University in Scotland has over 21,000 students from every part of the country, making it the fourth largest university in Scotland and the largest provider of part-time higher education.
Susan Stewart, Director of the Open University in Scotland said:
“Through his achievements Raza Sadiq embodies the core mission and vision of the Open University – to transform lives and communities, opening a world of possibilities for everyone. Both, life-changing learning and sport, have the power to enrich our society and ensure ‘the future is open’.
“The Open University in Scotland is delighted to recognise Raza’s contribution to sport, to young people, to the community and to inclusion.”
Raza Sadiq said:
“This honorary degree is not just about accolades, it's about the resounding message it carries – a message that echoes through the corridors of change and resonates with the very essence of my life's work: empowering young minds through the remarkable medium of sports.
“I am deeply grateful for this profound honour. This award not only connects me to the Open University family but also unites us through shared values and a collective commitment to making the world a better place.
“I hope my journey will serve as an inspiration, a reminder that challenges can be overcome, and that each one of you has the potential to etch your mark on the lives of others.”
Photo of Raza Sadiq by Julie Howden.
3 October 2023