Yorkshire’s premier awards scheme for Asian young achievers closes for entries on Friday 15 July.
The Yorkshire Asian Young Achievers Awards – known as “the YAYAs” – are in their third year and shortlisted candidates will be invited to a fabulous celebration dinner in November to receive their awards.
The YAYAs are open to any young person, aged 16 to 30, of South Asian heritage who was born in, or lives and works in, Yorkshire.
Aimed at rising stars who have overcome deprivation and disadvantage, or have broken down traditional barriers to progress, the YAYAs attracted scores of entries from throughout the county last year and highlighted many outstanding achievers.
Dr Mohammed Ali OBE, Chief Executive of the QED Foundation charity, which organises the awards, said: “We’ve had some fabulous entries already but we’d love to see more so we’re urging would-be entrants to hurry because the July 15 deadline is approaching rapidly.
“The YAYAs are fast becoming recognised as the premier awards scheme to showcase the achievements of young South Asians and winning one of our prestigious titles is a real feather-in-the-cap which can help provide a stepping stone to a bright future.”
The overall Young Achiever of the Year last year, NHS worker Huma Malik, who was recognised for volunteering during the pandemic, despite her own long-term health problems, has seen her career blossom.
Since winning last year’s awards, Huma, 27, has become a trustee of the charity, the Mental Health Foundation, and is also making positive progress within her professional career working as an engagement officer for NHS Leeds CCG to support patient voice in service change.
The awards are in 11 categories – for 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 – and an overall Young Achiever of the Year is chosen from among the individual award winners.
Other winners last year included actor Aqib Khan, who played Sajid in ‘West is West’ and is in the BBC One Comedy, Ladhood; Jasmin Akter, who won the Sport category, and medical student Badr Basharat.
Blogger Sonia Hunjan was recognised for starting ‘The Blind Reader’ after being diagnosed with the serious degenerative eye condition, retinitis pigmentosa; children’s nurse Yasmin Khanagha’s award acknowledged her work in healthcare; STEM mentor Ruhee Dawood was also a winner along with Saif Din, who opened a community boxing and fitness gym to encourage boys off the streets and provide a safe place for them to train, and broadcaster, Sivapriya Thirugnanarajah, who was recognised for volunteering as a technical assistant and a radio jockey for the British Indian online community radio. Entrepreneur Sabreen Ahsan launched a digital marketing agency and works with BAME creative entrepreneurs, and Jagjit Singh Chaggar who has never let Ankylosing Spondylitis, a disease affecting his back and leg movement, hold him back, also won an award.
The YAYAs organisers – the Bradford-based QED Foundation – are a registered charity which exists to improve the social and economic position of disadvantaged communities in partnership with public, private and civil society organisations. They are supported by their headline partners, York St John University.
Dr Ali said: “Of Yorkshire’s more than 600,000 BME residents, the vast majority are of South Asian origin. Sadly, they continue to struggle to overcome disadvantages in making their way in the world, be that in education, employment or social mobility generally.
“They need role models – people who have broken through the barriers and overcome the challenges – and we know there are many dynamic, industrious young people achieving great things across the whole county. So these awards are designed to celebrate their achievements and efforts and help others by highlighting their successes and showing them just what can be achieved.”
The YAYAs will be presented at a gala dinner at the Cedar Court Hotel, Bradford, on November 11, hosted by BBC TV and Radio presenter and stand-up comedian, Noreen Khan.
York St John University is the primary sponsor of the YAYAs. Rob Hickey, Chief Operating Officer, said: “The first two years of the YAYAs were hugely successful in highlighting examples of personal endeavour, selfless determination and breaking barriers; qualities we value and aspire to. York St John University is proud to recognise the achievements of Yorkshire’s young Asians by supporting the awards once again.”
Professor Karen Bryan, Vice Chancellor of York St John University, said: “We celebrate diversity and take pride in our dedication to providing equal opportunity to students from all backgrounds. That is why we are so proud to support the YAYAs and celebrate these incredible stories of achievement and inspiration.”
Sponsors and supporters of the awards include: Morrisons, The National Science & Media Museum, Barnado’s, the Home Office, the University of Bradford, Bradford Council, LanguageCert, the University of York, Regal, LOCALiQ, My Lahore, Exa Networks, Leeds City Council, Cedar Court Hotels, and Banner.