Diversity Champion Award for Charity Sector
Mohammed (known as Zaf) works at South and City College Birmingham, and is the Founder of All 4 Youth & Community CIC. As popularly broadcasted over UK, his inspiration to set this up was the tragic death of his brother in law (24) who was brutally murdered, and the death of his Blind Sister. Zaf began engaging with youths who were involved in gang culture, and got them involved in sporting activities and community set up programmes. 5 years later, All 4 Youth & Community now has 16,764 youths registered on their books, helped 3,506 youths get back in education, and over 4,500 into employment. They have completed 100 projects without any external funding. This driven individual also set up a pioneering women’s academy which enables young Muslim women who were being forced to quit education and forced in to arrange marriages at the age of 15, to continue in Further Education once they finish secondary school and find them further career opportunities. Currently Zaf has 4,981 women signed up to the academy.
We caught up with Zaf after he won The Diversity Champion Award for Charity at The Excellence in Diversity Awards 2016. Here is was he said…
What were your thoughts after winning The Diversity Champion Award for Charity?
To be honest, to be recognised in this category, at such a prestigious awards ceremony, I felt utterly humbled. Looking at the nominees on the night, across all award categories, it was just completely humbling. It was such a surprise.
How did you feel about the other shortlisted nominees in your category?
They were amazing! When I was reading the work everyone has done, I couldn’t believe my name was alongside theirs! It was just amazing. It feels surreal!
What impact do you think your work is having?
I’ve been very fortunate from day one. I didn’t think it would be a big as it is. After the death of my sister and the murder of my brother in law, my passion was to change at least one or two lives. I never imagined it would be so huge. I still pinch myself when I see how many people’s lives I’ve changed. To then set up the women academy was amazing.. The impact it has had is outstanding. It’s astonishing that I’ve never had much financial help; it just shows that determination is key but I give a lot of credit to South and City College who have supported me from day one and I have been able to use their facilities at no cost.
It’s important to recognise that whatever differences people have, we ensure that no conflict takes place and we get all of them together as we don’t know how long we are here for and we should bring peace and love.
After winning the award, what is your next step?
When this award came in, I had just received a British Empire medal. It’s been a smashing week! I’m in the process of setting up a new project; it’s an all in 1 project focusing on women, youth and culture which is to last 2 years. The project is our 100th and is set to reach 5000 youths in two years from deprived areas. More recently on Saturday and Sundays we help sessions for youths and elders to go on a 45 minute walk around the community from mosques and churches, which we call “walk and talk session.” This allowed them to understand each other’s cultures and religions and an astonishing 2500 people got involved.
I have had offers to set up a Women’s Academy in Dubai and Africa! I’ve got a lot coming in. A lot of local business are coming up and wanting to help as well. I also have a documentary coming out as well. Member of staff from BBC Scotland also recently wanted to come down to Birmingham for 2 weeks to see the work I am doing and was so touched by my work that they wanted to pay their own accommodation. I have a lot of exciting things happening and I can’t wait.
Why do you think it is important to champion diversity?
If you’re going to do something, you just do it and that was my drive. Don’t do it for an award or accolade and be remembered for the right reason. Goodness always follows goodness so you will get due rewards anyway but don’t make that as your primary goal.
A lot of the media and news stories we read are so negative and it’s important to have a positive impact. There are bigger priorities in life than money and awards, I do this because I want to make a change and be remembered for the right reason.
What were your thoughts on the awards? Did you enjoy the night?
It was absolutely brilliant! It’s been so well organised and it was fantastic to be in the presence of such amazing people. As I said before, the whole experience has been extremely humbling!