Lord Mayor visits Asha Neighbourhood Project

In one his last appointments before the end of his term of office, the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Cllr Asghar Khan and the Lady Mayoress Robina Kosar visited Beeston’s Asha Neighbourhood Project on 24 May.

The Lord Mayor spoke about being the 127th Lord Mayor of Leeds. He reminisced about his childhood when he first arrived from Kashmir in Pakistan to live in Leeds at the age of 11.

He described how nervous he was when he arrived in Beeston. He noticed how green and open the countryside was as he drove up the motorway to Leeds and how it resembled parts of Pakistan. But he was shocked when he arrived in Beeston to see endless identical terrace houses. He was frightened to go outside in case he couldn’t find his house among the many and, with no English, he thought he wouldn’t be able to ask for help.

He compared his first memory of being nervous to now being an ambassador for Leeds. He spoke about his father working hard in a foundry and working extra on Saturdays to support him and his siblings with extra tuition to improve their English language.

He shared a clear message that with hard work, opportunities are available in Leeds. He felt Leeds was a very compassionate city and a place of sanctuary. He also spoke about how the BAME community have made a positive contribution to Leeds and its expansion.

The Mayor spoke about his profession as a postman and described his experience of going to what was soon to become the Asha Centre in 1985, but at the time was the Caravanserai Project, to build his first proper bike.

He mentioned how as Mayor he had visited 180 schools and that his first local school had been Cross Flatts Middle School (now Park View Primary Academy). The Mayor paid special tribute to the Late Abdul Quddus who was an inspiration to him. The Late Abdul Quddus was not only a Governor at his school, he was also one of the original founders of the Asha Centre.

He thanked all Asha Centre staff and Management Committee members for their ongoing contribution to the local community and the city since Asha’s beginning in 1985.

Both Lord Mayor and Mayoress took a tour of the Asha Centre and spoke to the ICT students. They spoke about the opportunities available in the city and encouraged everyone to work hard, gain skills and aspire to achieve more. The service users were able to ask the Lord Mayor questions about community issues and he encouraged them to put this forward to the council.

He visited the ESOL class and talked about his journey as he didn’t speak English when he first arrived in the UK. He praised the students and ESOL tutor for their commitment and ongoing contribution. He encouraged the student to persevere and gave himself as an example as to what is possible and what you can achieve.

The Pre-School also had a visit, where both Mayor and Mayoress had an opportunity to interact with the children. The children were amazed by their special visitors and by their special attire.

This special visit reminded the staff of Princess Ann’s visit in the 1980’s. Everyone enjoyed the visit where they had the opportunity to speak to the Mayor informally over light refreshments. Plenty of photos were taken to remember and record the visit.

He presented Asha Staff and the Management Committee with a Certificate of Recognition for their work in supporting the community.


This post was written by Tahena Ahmed

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