Seven months of Magid: '˜Nothing prepared the Town Hall or Sheffield for what happened'Â

'Nothing prepared the Town Hall or Sheffield in general for what was going to happen,' said Magid Magid, Sheffield's Lord Mayor.

Monday, 31st December 2018, 12:38 pm
Updated Tuesday, 8th January 2019, 9:02 am
The Lord Mayor of Sheffield Magid Magid asked the people of Sheffield to help him decorate the Christmas Tree in the Lord Mayor's Parlour at the Town Hall. Pictured is Lord Mayor of Sheffield Magid Magid. Picture: Chris Etchells

'But it's been a learning curve and overwhelmingly positive.'

Magid needs no introduction. Since he was inaugurated in May to the sounds of Star Wars' Imperial March and the Superman theme tune with a viral photograph of him on the Town Hall staircase, he has made a huge impact on the city and the way the rest of the country, and world, sees Sheffield.

Magid Magid's inauguration picture - photo by Chris Saunders

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He sits with his feet up on the seat of the booth in Bills, wearing his recognisable Dr Martens and yellow baseball cap on backwards, tucking into his favourite sticky toffee pudding as we take a moment to reflect on the past several months.

'It's been crazy. Every day is completely different. One of the great things about being Lord Mayor is you really get to see what makes Sheffield what it is and as a result I've met so many amazing people.'

As well as himself being the youngest ever, first Muslim, Somali and Green Party councillor to take on the role, he has also introduced the city's first poet laureate, UK suicide prevention charter and aims to break the record for most money ever raised by a Lord Mayor.

He has also campaigned to raise awareness of global warming and spoken out against Donald Trump, not least by trying to ban him from the city.

Magid banned Donald Trump from Sheffield branding him a 'wasteman'

'I go to primary schools now and kids are squatting on their seats for when I come in and they'll say '˜we were learning about you this week' and that's genuinely one of the biggest honours anyone can ever get, kids being taught about the Lord Mayor in Sheffield. That's the sort of stuff that motivates me and keeps me going.'

He has redefined the outdated and almost dormant position and injected it with flare and purpose which, whatever your opinion, has got people talking.

He said: 'If the least I do is get people talking about Sheffield or having debates then at least I've done something, and I've definitely challenged some people's perceptions already.

'I genuinely did not expect so many people to fight my corner when I've faced backlash or put in that much effort and that quite touched me, and it's not just in Sheffield, when I go to other places there's a lot of people appreciating what I'm doing and it makes Sheffield out to be this really cool, progressive place.

Magid with his chosen charities for his term in office. Pictured with the Lord Mayor are Saeed Brasab from the Unity Gym Project, Jo Eckersley from Flourish, and Katherine Myles from Sheffield Women's Counselling and Therapy Service. Picture: Chris Etchells

'I think a lot of people relate to me and see the authenticity, even if they don't agree people will say '˜I like that you're using your platform'. There needs to be a face to leadership.'

Magid lives in Sharrow, the ward he represents at council, but spends most of his time working around the city, travelling further afield to be a voice for Sheffield or in the Lord Mayor's parlour.

He said: 'I have got some really understanding friends, close family and friends I've just neglected and I've become a bit of a loner. During the day I'm with people all the time but in the evenings I just lay in bed on my laptop planning things. Sometimes I do need to take some time to relax and look after my own mental health.'

His second home is the parlour. Silver ornaments fill the shelves and it is decked-out in red, gold and mahogany with old-looking furniture and a fireplace. It also comes with its own bathroom and storage rooms and, at the moment, its own real Christmas tree, which he plans to redecorate with the help of the public.

Magid at Tramlines

It is also filled with things people have sent from across the world, including a pair of unique Dr Martens painted in his favourite colours with his '˜10 commandments' on, the neckerchief of a local Brownie group he was made part of and kente cloth, a type of silk fabric from Ghana.

As well as gifts, the vast attention Magid received has prompted some unusual requests. For example, he sent a pair of his favourite socks, two days worn, to a woman who collects them from famous people and even walked a couple down the aisle on their wedding day.

But not everyone has agreed with the way Magid has done things. As well as admiration, the Lord Mayor has received some criticism.

Most recently he experienced backlash from the Labour-run council, who attempted to enforce the first Lord Mayor code of conduct to '˜rein him in'.

'The council have not been supportive at all,' he said.

'It's just a way for them to control me because they realise there's bugger all they can do. They can put whatever the hell they want into the constitution, it's not going to stop me. I don't know why they are even wasting time when there are more important issues.'

He has also faced some criticism from members of the public too. Earlier this year a petition was launched to remove him from post, which gathered around 47 signatures, but a counter petition in support of Magid was also launched and gained 17,558 signatures.

He said: 'One thing I definitely did expect was a backlash, even today I still get racist comments, letters and emails. That was just something I mentally prepared myself for but I didn't expect all this positivity.

'People will also say '˜he's being too political' or attention seeking but actually there is nothing in the constitution to say I can't be. I've never been political when I've worn the chain.

'The primary purpose of being non-political is for when you are chairing full-council, but the Labour Lord Mayor before me would always stick her hand up and vote for her party, which is as political as you can get and it's not even necessary because they have the majority. I've never done that.

'To be honest, I don't think I've got the privilege of being non-political, I'm a black, Muslim, immigrant and there are so many injustices that affect me, my family, community and the people of Sheffield. So, yeah, I am going to use my voice and platform to speak about things and if people don't agree with that then tough.'

Magid said he was conscious the next six months would go fast so plans to make the most of it with a series of events to raise awareness and money for local charities, with a fundraising target of £100,000.

This includes a Christmas message, festive movie night in the parlour, beating the world record for the longest hug (about 27 hours), speed dating, a '˜Great Escape' where people have to hitchhike as far as possible from the Town Hall in 36 hours and a Love Sheffield Day, the city's answer to Comic Relief.

The money raised from all these events will go towards his three chosen charities: Unity Gym Project, Sheffield Flourish and Women's Counselling and Therapy Service.

'A year is nothing and there's so much I want to do. Sometimes I can put a lot of pressure on myself but there is a lot of support too.

'I really hope Lord Mayors after me look at the role differently now and make more use of their platform and people think about the issues I've highlighted.'