NHS worker Huma Malik, who volunteered during the pandemic despite her own serious long-term health problems, is this year’s Yorkshire Asian Young Achiever of the Year.
She was also one of four category winners from Bradford.
The 27-year-old, who lives in Bradford and is employed by NHS Leeds CCG as an Engagement Officer, was one of 11 winners at the awards, dubbed “The YAYAs,” which were announced before an audience of more than 300 guests at the Cedar Court Hotel, Bradford, and broadcast live on the internet [on Thursday, November 4].
Huma, who is of Pakistani background, won the Achievement in the Public Sector category, sponsored by Leeds City Council, and was overall winner of the Yorkshire Asian Young Achiever of the Year 2021 title, sponsored by York St John University.
Huma’s role as an engagement officer involves reaching out to communities to help improve health outcomes. She is also a long-standing volunteer for NHS Bradford’s People’s Board.
Despite Huma’s long term health conditions – she regularly attends hospital appointments for blood transfusions and treatments – she runs the social enterprise Music Talkz, providing music workshops for young people and tackling mental health issues through creativity.
Huma supported young carers as a volunteer and, during the pandemic, volunteered virtually with Leaders Unlocked, promoting youth voice in Health and Mental Health for young people. She is a trained WRAP facilitator and worked with Barnardo’s in Bradford.
Her health problems and the pandemic meant she was unable to attend the awards in person, but she received her award from Rob Hickey, chief operating officer of main sponsors York St John University, shortly before the event.
In a brief video played to the audience she said: “I’m sorry I can’t be there in person due to the pandemic and my extra vulnerabilities, but I’d like to thank York St John University for sponsoring this award and to thank QED for giving young people a platform. Thank you very much for this honour.”
Three of the other category winners were from Bradford: Actor Aqib Khan played Sajid in ‘West is West’ and is currently in the BBC One Comedy, Ladhood. Aqib, who is of Pakistani background, won the Arts & Creative category. Jasmin Akter, who was born in a refugee camp in Bangladesh, won the Sport category and Badr Basharat, of Pakistani background, won the Education category.
There were also two Keighley winners among the 11 category winners: Sabreen Arslan, 29, won the Young Entrepreneur award; and Jagjit Singh Jaggar, 26, win the Achievement in the Private Sector category.
The awards, launched in 2020, were presented at a live event for the first time this year after the inaugural awards dinner had to cancelled due to the first Covid-19 lockdown and was staged as an online event last November.
They were hosted by BBC TV and Radio presenter and stand-up comedian Noreen Khan, and the keynote speaker was Professor Akbar Ahmed, chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington DC and former Pakistani High Commissioner to the UK.
Dr Mohammed Ali OBE, founder and chief executive of QED Foundation, which conceived and organises the YAYAs, said there had been another amazing raft of entries from across the county this year, stretching from Keighley to Rotherham to York.
He told the audience: “Changes to equality legislation mean it is more difficult to openly discriminate against people on the basis of their faith or ethnicity and a diverse population is increasingly seen as a social and economic asset to the United Kingdom.
“But we must not let these advances blind us to the fact that it is much more difficult to succeed in many areas of life if you are not white.
“As the award winners today will know only too well, their race – and their northern backgrounds – make it more difficult to achieve in many professions.
“We hope this event will leave people feeling inspired and uplifted by the dedication, commitment and talent of the award winners whose stories we heard. But most of all we want other young people to follow their examples, aim high and know that with hard work and determination anything is possible.”
The YAYAs are open to any young person aged 18-30 of South Asian heritage (Pakistani, Indian, Bangladeshi etc) who was born in, or lives and works in, Yorkshire.
They are aimed at those socially-mobile young achievers who have overcome deprivation and disadvantage or have broken through traditional barriers to progress and have the potential to be role models who can inspire others to follow them.
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, worked with their headline partners, York St John University, to organise the awards.
The award categories include Achievement in School or College; Health/Mental Health and Healthcare; The Arts & Creative industries; the Private Sector; Media; Education; the Public Sector; the Not-for-Profit Sector; Sport; Achievement as a Young Entrepreneur; and Achievement in Overcoming Life Obstacles.
Announcing the overall winner, Professor Karen Bryan, vice-chancellor of YSJ, said: “York St John University is very proud to be the main sponsor of these awards which resonate so much with our values. The young people here this evening have overcome many challenges, family issues, cultural expectations, disabilities and mental health challenges, financial issues, gender or ethnicity challenges, or in many cases a combination of all of these.
“This is a difficult, uncertain time for the world. We need inspiring young people to stand up, stand out and make things better. Your are that inspiration; you are the future. Congratulations to you all.”
Keynote speaker Professor Ahmed told the winners: “Winning this prestigious award is not the end of your journey, but the beginning of another phase of it. You will face many challenges in the coming time. You will confront some familiar problems of people defining you, sometimes through the prism of prejudice and ignorance, but you will also be aware that you are living in a Britain that has changed dramatically.
“The world is now your oyster. But it is a world in peril. Whatever the colour of your skin or your religion you must rally to it. The world faces real extinction level dangers: Climate change, the pandemic that does not seem to die out and the violence and hatred between communities. Challenge these with your hearts and minds. The future of the human race is at stake.”
Other sponsors and supporters of the awards include: GCHQ, the National Science & Media Museum, Barnardo’s, the University of Bradford, MyLahore, Bradford Council, Trinity College London, the University of York, Leeds City Council, Local IQ, Mumtaz, Poverty Alleviation Scholarships, Exa Networks, Cedar Court Hotels, Banner, and BITE.
In all, 33 nominees were short-listed for the 11 categories.
FULL LIST OF WINNERS:
Born in a refugee camp in Bangladesh, Jasmin Akter re-settled in the UK aged eight. The 20-year-old, from Bradford, has a passion for football and cricket and was awarded Sportswoman of the Year (Bradford Sports Awards 2020). She raises awareness of homelessness, refugees and plays in male dominated sports.
Highly commended: Anas Tanveer, 21, Bradford; Umaymah Makda, 22, Wakefield.
HEALTH/MENTAL HEALTH AND HEALTHCARE
Yasmin, 24 is a newly registered children’s nurse. The 24-year-old, from Wakefield, is of mixed white and Pakistani background and was president of the Leeds University Nursing Society. Yasmin is passionate about inequalities in the NHS. She is currently studying a masters degree in Healthcare and is President of the Mind Matters Society.
Highly commended: Dylan Singh Bhandal, 24, Wakefield. Harpreet Singh Chaggar, 25, Keighley.
ARTS & CREATIVE INDUSTRIES
Bradford actor, Aqib Khan, is known for playing Sajid in ‘West is West,’ aged 16, along with
the late Om Puri. The 28-year-old has appeared in many TV programmes and is currently in the BBC One comedy, ‘Ladhood.’ Aqib is of Pakistani background and considers himself a role model for Bradford people. His ambition is to appear in Hollywood and Bollywood films.
Highly commended: Shazia Bibi, 26, Bradford; Myra Hussain, 18, Bradford.
Sivapriya has a passion for music and the 21-year-old, who lives in Sheffield, has been volunteering as a technical assistant and a radio jockey for the British Indian online community radio broadcasted from Bradford. She has also helped to produce programs on Mental Health Awareness and is currently studying Sociology at Sheffield Hallam University.
Highly commended: Srosh Khan, 23, Bradford; Hamza Mujtaba, 28, Bradford.
Against all odds, Badr had the opportunity to study medicine. Badr, who is heading into his final year, was inspired by his late father who motivated and encouraged him to pursue his
ambition. The 23-year-old, who lives in Bradford, comes from a Pakistani background. His father was a taxi driver, his mother a housewife and Badr is the first of his family to go to university and to study medicine. He also helps other medical students.
Highly commended: Mohammed Noman Samir, 23, Leeds, Ayra Najeeb, 17, Bradford.
JAGJIT SINGH CHAGGAR
Jagjit is a 26-year-old British Indian living in Keighley. Jagjit suffers from Ankylosing Spondylitis, a disease affecting his back and leg movement. Despite the physical pain, Jagjit hasn’t let it hold him back. He has raised funds and supported numerous
charities/charity events. Jagjit is currently production manager at a cereal factory in Poole,
Dorset and is currently working on a qualification to become an associate programme manager.
Highly commended: Aneesa Ehsan, 28, Bradford; Abdul Jabbaar Ahmed, 21, Bradford.
SCHOOL OR COLLEGE
Ruhee Dawood is a mentor in the STEMi Women Kuongoza programme which supports women/girls from Africa to pursue STEM studies. The 23-year-old, is of Indian background and lives in York where she moved after being awarded a Sharifah Sofia Albukhary Scholarship to study Chemistry at the University of York. After completing her undergraduate degree, Ruhee was awarded a Whinfield Medal. She secured a full scholarship to fund her PhD and wants to be the next researcher to make a ground-breaking discovery in organic chemistry.
Highly commended: Husen Ali, 20, Keighley; Malaika Khan, 17, Keighley.
Huma won the Public Sector category and is also the overall YAYAs winner. The 27-year-old is employed by NHS Leeds CCG as an Engagement Officer, reaching out to communities to help improve health outcomes. Despite her long term health conditions and attending hospital appointments for blood transfusions and treatments, Huma is a long-standing volunteer for NHS Bradford’s People’s Board and has worked with Barnados. She runs the social enterprise, Music Talkz, providing workshops tackling mental health amongst young people, has supported young carers as a volunteer and during the pandemic has done volunteering virtually with Leaders Unlocked, promoting youth voice in Health and Mental Health for young people.
Highly commended: Aamir Khan, 28, Bradford; Yusuf Hussain, 19, Bradford.
NOT FOR PROFIT SECTOR
Saif opened a community boxing and fitness gym in a deprived area of Rotherham. The 27-year-old, who lives in Rotherham and is from a Pakistani background, was keen to encourage young boys off the streets and into a safe space to train. Muslim girls also attend. He is keen to promote positive male Muslim role models in Rotherham.
Highly commended: Tayabah Parveen, 30, Bradford; Zain Ul Abdin, 23, Bradford.
In 2018 Sabreen launched her digital marketing agency, PIYA Media. The 29-year-old, who is of Bangladeshi background, works exclusively with creative entrepreneurs from BAME backgrounds. Sabreen, who lives in Keighley, is a Trustee of Young Enterprise, providing skills and financial
information to young people. She had to suspend her degree due to health reasons and personal reasons.
Highly commended: Omar Bahadur, 26, Bradford; Haseeb Arslan, 27, Heckmondwike. OVERCOMING LIFE OBSTACLES
Sonia, who has the degenerative eye condition Retinitis Pigmentosa, launched a blog ‘The Blind Reader’ to help raise awareness. The 23-year-old, who is of Indian background and lives in Leeds, was recently awarded the highest grade of distinction for her MA at the University of York in Global literature and culture. She graduated with a 2:1 for her English Literature BA at Leeds University and has worked in retail and social care to financially support herself.
Highly commended: Muneeb Akhtar, 24, Bradford; Sufiyan Mohammed, 23, Bradford.