A leading award scheme that celebrates the achievements of young Asian people in Yorkshire is now open for entries.

The Yorkshire Young Achiever Awards – known as “the YAYAs” – are in their fourth year and have grown into a key event in the Yorkshire and UK awards calendar.

The awards are aimed at young achievers who have overcome deprivation and disadvantage or who have successfully broken through barriers. They look to recognise success and achievements of young role models who can inspire others.

Shortlisted candidates will be invited to a gala dinner in November at Cedar Court Hotel in Bradford alongside business leaders, celebrities, and influencers.

Last year’s awards featured video messages of support from Hollywood actor Riz Ahmed and the BBC newsreader Reeta Chakrabarti. Past keynote speakers include Lord Michael Bichard KCB, Professor Akbar Ahmed of Washington University, and the Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin.

Actor Riz Ahmed, speaking at last year’s awards said: “Culture can still be a barrier to our achievements, by that I mean discrimination.” He added: “Too often young Asians feel held back by poor educational achievement or impoverished family backgrounds…this is all the more reason to truly celebrate the amazing people who have been considered for the YAYA awards. When our community faces real challenges, it is all the more important to celebrate those people leading the way.”

Adil Rashid, English cricketer who presented at the YAYAs last year, said: “The YAYAs show with determination, courage, belief and having that vision, that dream - you can go all the way and achieve great things.”

The award ceremony will be presented by BBC TV and Radio presenter and stand-up comedian, Noreen Khan.

The awards are open to any young person aged 16 to 30 of South Asian heritage who was born in or lives and works in Yorkshire.

The YAYAs attract high profile sponsors including this year Morrisons, the Home Office, LanguageCert, University of York, Barnardo’s, alongside headline sponsor, York St John University.

Professor Karen Bryan OBE, Vice Chancellor of York St John University, said: “We aim to be at the forefront of promoting equality and diversity in education and to ensure all our existing and prospective students enjoy the same opportunities and outcomes irrespective of ethnic background. The YAYAs are a joyous celebration of aspiration, social mobility, and the positive contributions young people make across Yorkshire. We are proud to return as headline sponsor.”

The 10 categories are for achievements in sport, health, the arts and creative industries, media, education, the private sector, public sector, not-for-profit sector, young entrepreneur, and achievement in school or college. There will also be an award for overcoming life obstacles and an overall 2023 young Asian achiever of the year.

2022 YAYA winners included Neil Bharat Patel, a software developer with Cerebral Palsy, Habib Karimi, who could not speak English when he arrived from Afghanistan and went on to work with the Business Enterprise Fund, and midwife Jawairiya Khan, who was determined to achieve her ambition despite the challenges of health issues and a financially disadvantaged childhood.

The YAYAs are hosted by the QED Foundation, a charity founded in Bradford in 1990. Today, QED is a key player in ethnic minority issues at both national and international level.
Dr Mohammad Ali OBE, founder of QED, said: “Having arrived in the UK aged 12, unable to speak English, I’m passionate that every race and faith should be able to fulfil their potential. These awards hopefully inspire young people, despite the barriers they may face.”

Dr Ali has an honorary doctorate from the University of Bradford, and an OBE for services to ethnic minorities.

Adeeba Malik CBE DL, Deputy CEO of QED, said: “My father worked in the mills in Bradford, but his children grew up to excel in their chosen fields. I’m passionate that young people, regardless of background, have the opportunity and ambition to be all they dream to be. The YAYA’s are truly an uplifting celebration of that.”

Ms Malik has held many ministerial appointments, is a board member of Bradford 2025 City of Culture, and a Deputy Lieutenant for West Yorkshire. She also has a CBE for services to community cohesion.

To enter or nominate a young person for the awards go to YAYAS – Yorkshire Asian Young Achiever Awards 2023
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