Inspirational awards scheme for Yorkshire’s young Asians launches for second year - and Sheffielders have won it before

An inspirational awards scheme celebrating the achievements of young Asians in Yorkshire launches for its second year today after a hugely successful first event.

Wednesday, 16th June 2021, 6:45 pm
The Yorkshire Asian Young Achievers Awards
Dr Mohammed Ali
Picture: Lorne Campbell / Guzelian
The Yorkshire Asian Young Achievers Awards Dr Mohammed Ali Picture: Lorne Campbell / Guzelian

The Yorkshire Asian Young Achievers Awards – known as The YAYAs – are open to any young person of South Asian heritage (Pakistani, Indian, Bangladeshi etc) who was born in, or lives and works in, Yorkshire.

Aimed at socially-mobile young achievers who have overcome deprivation and disadvantage or have broken through traditional barriers to progress, the awards attracted scores of entries in its very first year, despite the difficulties created by the pandemic, and had two Sheffield winners.

The YAYAS are organised by the Bradford-based QED Foundation, a registered charity which exists to improve the social and economic position of disadvantaged communities in partnership with public, private and civil society organisations, along with their headline partners, York St John University.

The Yorkshire Asian Young Achievers Awards. Aasim Khan.

After restrictions led to a virtual event last year, a prestigious gala awards night is due to take place at the Cedar Court Hotel, with catering by My Lahore, on November 4 to celebrate the nominees and winners.

Dr Mohammed Ali OBE, Chief Executive of QED, said: “Yorkshire has more than 600,000 BME residents, the vast majority of whom are of South Asian origin. And they continue to struggle to overcome disadvantages in making their way in the world, whether that is in education, employment or social mobility generally.

“We know there are many dynamic, hard-working young people achieving great things across the whole county and these awards are intended to celebrate their achievements and efforts.

“The standard of entries last year was truly remarkable. We had humbling and life-affirming stories of people overcoming the odds to carve their way in life and we feel enormously proud of all those who entered. They were all truly inspirational.”

The Yorkshire Asian Young Achievers Awards. Romana Shah.

The awards look to recognise success and effort in overcoming challenges and barriers, be they social, economic, personal, or simply the result of traditional or historical attitudes or circumstances, he said.

“In each area, we’re looking for beacons of success and achievement who can inspire others and be the role models that the young people who follow them can aspire to become and even overshadow.”

The overall winner in the first YAYAs was Mohammed Ali Hussein, who overcame a very difficult childhood and chaotic home life to become a mentor, supporter and champion for young people in care.

The keynote speaker at this year’s event will be Professor Akbar Ahmed, a former Pakistani High Commissioner to the UK, and an author, poet, playwright, and filmmaker. He is Professor of International Relations and currently holds the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at the American University of Washington DC.

The Yorkshire Asian Young Achievers Awards.

The award categories are Achievement in School or College; Health/Mental Health and Healthcare; The Arts and Creative Industries; the Private Sector; Media; Education; the Public Sector; the Not-for-Profit Sector; Achievement as a Young Entrepreneur; Sport; and Achievement in Overcoming Life Obstacles.

Details of how to enter the YAYAs can be found at: theyayas.org.uk or via: qed-uk.org. The closing date for nominations is Monday, July 19, 2021.

Here are details of previous Sheffield winners.

ACHIEVEMENT IN THE NOT-FOR-PROFIT SECTOR

Aasim Khan, 28, is of Pakistani heritage was raised in a deprived area of Sheffield. He has since dedicated his life to helping others and raised over £300,000 for refugee camps. Aasim also founded Darnall Football Academy to provide young people with a safe place to socialise. Currently, 500 young people are registered to the academy and competing in leagues. In his spare time, Aasim also writes poetry about Islamophobia.

ACHIEVEMENT IN THE MEDIA

Romana Shah is from a traditional Pakistani family in Sheffield but is now based in London. Raised by her single mother, Romana, aged 27, worked hard to gain a First-Class degree in English Literature, and followed this on with a Masters in PR. She now works at Field House Associates, working with several fast growth technology companies, a venture capital firm and corporate innovation arms. She is the only Muslim/Asian employee there.

Romana said after receiving her award: "I am so over the moon to be receiving this award.

"I’d been told that there is a glass ceiling, there’s no place for me in the world, I won’t get that far. This has proven those people wrong and if I can do it so can you."