The nominees for the Yorkshire Asian Young Achiever Awards have been announced.
Known as “the YAYAs,” the awards celebrate young people aged 16 to 30 of South Asian heritage who were born in or live and work in Yorkshire, and who have overcome deprivation and disadvantage, or successfully broken through barriers to become successful role models in their chosen fields.
The QED Foundation, based in Bradford, founded the awards four years ago. The YAYAs have grown into a key event in the awards calendar. QED was founded in 1990 by Dr Mohammed Ali OBE. Today, the charity is a key player in ethnic minority issues at both national and international level.
The 10 categories are for achievements in sport, health, the arts and creative industries, media, education, the private sector (young entrepreneur), public sector, not-for-profit sector, achievement in school or college and overcoming life obstacles. There is also an overall 2023 Young Asian Achiever of the Year.
Achievement in Sport
TANISHA JAIN, 20, (Indian), York: Sports is more than a hobby, it’s a passion. She is the first Asian woman to be York Sport Union President at the University of York. Previously, she was President of the University Basketball Club, Vice President of Sport for Alcuin College, and is an active member of other clubs and societies.
ANIL NAWAZ, 28, (Pakistani), Bradford: Anil has been a Manningham Allstars under-10s coach, and Bradford Central under-15s coach, taking young people on football related trips and events. Anil suffers from learning difficulties, including dyslexia, but continues to help many people in the community. He delivers sport sessions free of charge at schools and in community groups.
HUSSNAIN CHAUDARY, 23, (Pakistani), Bradford: Hussnain is a premier level American Football player. He’s the only British Asian playing American football at premiership level, in a sport that’s not currently a diverse one. He was brought up by a single parent. Hussnain is currently studying Psychology.
Achievement in Health, Mental Health and Healthcare
RHEA NARANG, 24, (Indian), Bradford: Rhea is a junior doctor at Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust. She volunteered during the pandemic, and currently volunteers for a women’s charity which focuses on rehabilitating survivors of domestic abuse. Rhea’s mother died in her final year of school, so she had to deal with the trauma and loss she felt. She is passionate about equality, diversity, and inclusion.
NUSAYBAH TUFAIL, 22, (Pakistani), Bradford: Nusaybah works at Bradford Teaching Hospital on the neonatal ward. Nusaybah always wanted to be a nurse, and is the first female in her family to have completed a university degree (in Children’s Nursing). She was married at the age of 18, and had a baby at 21. She completed her degree, as well as studying and being a mum.
ZENAB EMAN SABAHAT, 24, (Pakistani) Bradford: Zenab is currently a PhD researcher at Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust. Consistently a high academic performer, she is a member of the Yorkshire Consortium for Equity in Doctoral Education. Her research examines cultural adaptions for family interventions with people of South Asian heritage experiencing psychosis.
Achievement in Arts and Creative Industries
MOHAMMED SAEED, 19, (Pakistani) Bradford: He’s overcome cultural barriers to participate in the performing arts, and has performed at Leeds Playhouse and the Northern School of Contemporary Dance. Saeed was excluded from school and referred to the Pupil Referral Unit. He suffered mental health struggles during lockdown. Finding his passion in dance has improved his well-being.
GABY (GABIR) GOHLAR, 26, (Indian) Leeds: Gaby’s artworks hone in on important and taboo discussions within the South Asian community, sparking thought provoking conversations on the impacts of mental health or intergenerational trauma on social media platforms such as Club Kali and South Asian Queens podcast. Her artwork has been shared on platforms such as the Sikh Expo, and at the University of Washington Sikh Student Association 1984 exhibition.
ZARA SEHAR, 22, (Pakistani) Bradford but was born and raised in Halifax: Zara is a published poet, she completed a creative writing degree at Leeds Beckett University.Her writing explores the South Asian diaspora in the UK which is influenced by her identity and experiences as a British South Asian Muslim.
Achievement in Media
AMANI KHAN, 27, (Pakistani) Rochdale/Leeds: Amani began her career on her local newspaper in Rochdale before becoming an award-winning ITV reporter.She is a board member of the Diversity and Inclusion panel, and led the South Asian Heritage Month coverage at Calendar. Amani seeks to make stories more inclusive, with stories exposing racism in the NHS, and coverage of Bradford becoming the 2025 City of Culture.
MAHNOOR AKHLAQ, 22, (Pakistani) Bradford: Mahnoor is currently a multimedia producer at Channel 4 News. A journalism graduate from the University of Leeds and a Royal Television Society Bursary recipient, she was awarded the 2021 Len Tingle memorial placement at BBC Yorkshire, where she spent eight weeks being mentored. She presents and covers stories on homelessness, poverty, and societal issues on Channel 4 News.
KIMIA MODARESSI CHAHARDEHI, 21, (Other) Bradford: Kimia is a filmmaker at Anarchy Cinema, where she has been working since 2018. She was the assistant editor for the Muslim Women in Prison project for Muslim women leaving the criminal justice system, and worked for Bradford council to film King Charles when he visited Centenary Square.
She shot and edited a film for the train operator Northern and British Transport Police to raise awareness of unwanted sexual behaviour. She has collaborated with the leading Muslic charity, SKT Welfare, to support orphans in Turkey and Syria using her filmmaking skills.
Achievement in Education
MOHAMMAD MALIK, 24, (Other) York: He has organised trips to Calais refugee camps and donated clothes and toiletries, as well as helping Afghan refugees to integrate in York. Malik provides mentorship for students who want to enter higher education or study for a PhD. He’s also ran a workshop on anti-racism practice at the university.
MALIK FRAZ AHMAD, 19, (Pakistani) Bradford: Malik received a scholarship to study at Bradford Grammar School. Now at Durham University studying Law, he is an active member of the Law, Bar and Mooting Society.
NURANIYAH MAROOF, 24, (Pakistani) Bradford: After losing her father at the age of 7, she was raised by her mother as a single parent. She helped her mum to look after her brother. She turned to comfort eating and was bullied at secondary school due to her weight. Nuraniyah suffered in silence and didn’t do well in her GCSEs, but she repeated her year and gained good enough grades to move into higher education. After moving to another school, she did well in her A-Levels and went on to university, gaining a degree as a theatre practitioner. She is now doing a Masters in Physician Associate Studies.
Achievement in Private Sector/Young Entrepreneur
SAFURA SAID, 29, (Pakistani) Halifax: Safura left an abusive marriage whilst three months pregnant. The abuse impacted her mental health, leading to self-harm and severe panic attacks, but she went on to raise her son as a single mother and qualified as a Conveyancer.
AWAIS HUSSAIN, 23, (Pakistani) Bradford: No one in his family has ever worked in the corporate sector, but Awais is now a Management Consultant at the global leader in consulting and advisory services, PwC, where he is also a diversity mentor to support students from disadvantaged backgrounds studying at Leeds University.
HASNAIN AKHMAT, 28, (Pakistani) Bradford: Hasnain started working in a shisha lounge from the age of 17 when he knew he wanted to open his own business. He started saving, and now runs the Marha Lounge, after converting an abandoned pub. Marha offers non-alcoholic mixology and high-calibre shishas, and has a reputation as Bradford’s opulent Mediterranean restaurant, with a menu created by a leading London chef.
Achievement in School or College
UMAIR KHAN, 21, (Pakistani) Bradford: Umair came to the UK from Pakistan in 2013 at the age of 11. Born with a serious rare heart condition, Atrial septal defect (ASD), at the age of 12 he had a major heart operation. When he came to this country, he could only speak Urdu/Pashto and struggled at school as an outsider compounded by his health complications.
SAFAH AFTAB, 17, (Pakistani) Bradford: Despite having ICF syndrome – a rare genetic disorder that affects the immune system – resulting in health complications, she managed to complete her GCSEs and go to college. In 2022, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma and underwent chemotherapy. Due to her health conditions, she has struggled with mental health issues, but despite it all, she carried on and completed her exams.
HAMMAD KHAN, 17, (Pakistani) Bradford: Hammad sat his GCSEs in 2022 and received A*grades with 10 GCSEs. Currently studying Biology, Chemistry and Religious Education at Dixons Sixth Form Academy in Bradford, his ambition is to study Medicine.
Achievement in Public sector
SADIYA SALIM, 30, (Pakistani) Leeds: Sadiya has worked at Leeds City Council for seven years, mainly for the Child Friendly Leeds Team. She supports children and young people from all walks of life to take part in activities and opportunities. Sadiya has supported Syrian refugees and provided activities to Afghans housed in local hotels.
SHUAIB HUSSAIN, 24, (Pakistani) Bradford: Shuaib had a challenging adolescence before going to Bradford College then becoming an apprentice in the Sensory Needs Services at Bradford Council, where he learnt sign language and helped the visually impaired.
MAARIA SHAKOOR, 29, (Pakistani) Kirklees: Maaria worked in business support roles, before progressing to Commissioning and Contracts Officer in the Policing and Crime Team in West Yorkshire Combined Authority.
Achievement in Not for Profit
SAMIYAA AHMED, 21, (Bangladeshi) York: Samiyaa has volunteered in refugee hubs in York and Newcastle, taught English to refugees at Newcastle University, and provided guidance. Samiyaa has volunteered with refugee children, and helped in refugee camps in Calais, Greece, and France. She has completed an internship with an MP, aspiring to work in the Human Rights’ sector.
ADNAN HUSSAIN, 26, (Pakistani) Sheffield: A Civil Servant at the Home Office, he helps two groups of people: those with mental health struggles (empowering and helping them to become confident), and widows – helping them with financial support through donations, and supporting them to become self-sufficient.
ROHAN ASHAR, 22, (Indian) York: An Activities Officer at the University of York Student’s Union, he has helped over 10,000 York students to join a volunteering project with a view to encourage them to look beyond their academic life. This could mean engaging with schools, the environment, the elderly, or the homeless.
Overcoming Life Obstacles
ENOSH SIRAJ, 30, (Pakistani) Hull: Enosh left Pakistan aged 15, seeking asylum in the UK. She went on to achieve a Master’s degree in Biomedical science from King’s College, London. Her ambition is to attain a PhD. Despite her academic success, Enosh has had issues with her health over the last 10 years, resulting in three extensive surgeries and has spent long periods bed bound.
MARIAM HABIB, 29, (Pakistani) Leeds: Currently studying for a BSc (Honours) Health and Social Care degree, she has completed her second year at the University of Huddersfield. Mariam is studying whilst taking care of her son, who has multiple health conditions and is highly dependent on her. She also faced an abusive marriage while pregnant with her second child, and experienced financial abuse and declining mental health – barriers that inhibited her attaining the best academic results.
MOHAMMED HAMAD, 26, (Pakistani) Bradford: Hamad was born with a rare genetic disability called Fuhrmann syndrome – a type of skeletal dysplasia which has left him wheelchair bound and is a constant struggle. He has struggled mentally, and often felt excluded from activities and felt left out. Despite this, he passed his driving test first time, and drives a fully adapted car with a hoist, and counts his hobbies as rock climbing, swimming, and the gym.
Dr Mohammad Ali OBE, CEO of the QED Foundation, said: “We know from the countless reports and studies published in recent years that poverty rates in the UK are worst among ethnic minority communities. We know, too, that young people of South Asian heritage still suffer from prejudice and fewer opportunities. The YAYAs are more than just an awards scheme, they’re a campaign to inspire more young people to be successful. All these shortlisted young people are important role models for other young Asians, because you can’t be what you can’t see.”
YAYA awards are scheduled to be held in November.