Young South Asians from Huddersfield and Kirklees are being urged to put themselves in the frame for a potentially life-changing award.
The Yorkshire Asian Young Achievers Awards – known as the YAYAs – are open to any young person, aged 16 to 30, of South Asian heritage (Pakistani, Indian, Bangladeshi etc) 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.
Among them was the overall winner of the Young Achiever of the Year 2021 title, NHS worker Huma Malik, who was recognised for volunteering during the pandemic, despite her own long-term health problems.
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.
She said winning the award had helped to change her life for the better and has spurred her on to volunteering even more for the benefit of others, despite her long term health conditions, which mean attending regular hospital appointments for blood transfusions and treatments.
“It felt very surreal,” said Huma. “It was lovely just to be recognised. My family, friends and work colleagues are all really proud. They were absolutely over the moon and really supportive.”
Now she is urging her peers across Yorkshire to enter the awards and “just go for it!”
She said: “Sometimes we don’t talk about our own successes and achievements, we tend to shy away from them, it’s how we are. But if you get the opportunity it can help you with your future career; it helps you when you go for an interview – it’s about sharing your success. Don’t let the opportunity pass.”
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 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.
Dr Mohammed Ali OBE, chief executive of QED, 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, hard-working 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 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 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.
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 Friday, July 15, 2022. They 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 at York St John University, 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.”
Prof 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.