Young Sheffielders of South Asian heritage encouraged to apply for awards that celebrate achievement

An awards scheme celebrating the achievements of young people of South Asian heritage - who were born, live or work in Yorkshire – is keen to attract nominees in Sheffield.

By Lisa Wong
Thursday, 17th June 2021, 4:00 am

The Yorkshire Asian Young Achievers Awards, also known as The YAYAs, is organised by the QED Foundation - a charity which focuses on improving the social and economic position of disadvantaged communities in partnership with public, private and civil society organisations - and with York St John University.

Officially launching on June 17, the awards are aimed at socially-mobile young achievers who have overcome deprivation and disadvantage or have broken through traditional barriers to progress.

Chief executive of QED, Dr Mohammed Ali OBE, 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.

The YAYAs are aimed at socially-mobile young achievers, of South Asian heritage, who have overcome deprivation and disadvantage or have broken through traditional barriers to progress.

“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.”

Dr Ali told how judges would be looking for those “who can inspire others and be the role models that the young people who follow them can aspire to become and even overshadow.”

Rob Hickey, chief operating officer at York St John University, said: “These awards highlight examples of personal endeavour, selfless determination and breaking barriers; qualities which we value and look to replicate in what we do.

Dr Mohammed Ali OBE, chief executive of QED. Picture: Lorne Campbell / Guzelian

“We saw some exceptional examples of these qualities in the entries for the first year, which was a tremendous success. We look forward to seeing many more inspirational entries this year.”

The awards, which is now in its second year, has various different categories and Sheffield is the home of two previous winners.

Romana Shah was “over the moon” to be recognised for her achievement in the media.

She said after receiving her 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."

Romana Shah, a winner of the achievement in the media award.

Coming from a traditional Pakistani family, 27-year-old Romana was raised by her single mother in Sheffield.

She worked hard for her education, which led to employment in London, where she is now based.

Aasim Khan meanwhile, was recognised for his achievement in the not-for-profit sector.

The 28-year-old, who is also of Pakistani heritage, was raised in a deprived area of Sheffield and founded Darnall Football Academy to provide young people with a safe place to socialise.

Aasim Khan, winner of the achievement in the not-for-profit sector award.

In addition, Aasim has raised over £300,000 for refugee camps.

The awards attracted scores of entries last year, despite the difficulties created by the pandemic and although it was held virtually, a prestigious gala awards night is due to take place in November this year to celebrate the nominees and winners.

The closing date for nominations is Monday, July 19, 2021.

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