One of Bradford’s youngest councillors has been recognised for her outstanding leadership skills in a prestigious national competition this week – less than two years into her community role.
Cllr Fozia Shaheen, who represents the Toller ward, was named as the Young Councillor of the Year in the Local Government 2016 annual achievement awards.
She first took up her post in May 2015 and has quickly risen through the ranks to take on executive assistant to the portfolio holder for Health and Wellbeing.
In her council role, she also oversees children's services, looked-after children, housing, the Born in Bradford project and many public health issues.
The devoted community stalwart - who balances a job working with people with learning difficulties with her role as a councillor - beat competition from Kirklees, Boston, Cheshire and Walsall to clinch the award, and thanked her constituents for their ongoing support.
“I love working with people and my background is community work,” she said. “This award has truly shown my hard work, commitment and dedication.
“I have been a councillor for only just over one year and to become the executive assistant for Health and Wellbeing and be recognised nationally by receiving this award is a massive achievement.
“I just want to thank my constituents, friends, colleagues, family and most of all Council Leader Susan Hinchcliffe and Deputy Leader Val Slater for having so much trust in the work I do in my community and nominating me for this award initially.”
In a time when Britain has a female Prime Minister and the US has a female running for the White House, Cllr Shaheen says it is a good time for women in politics.
“In the past we have struggled to rise up the ranks in politics, but I think if you look at where we are at today, we are in a much better position,” she added.
“I hope young girls can look up to me and see that with the right work and commitment, they can grow up to be whatever they want to be and not let society dictate their future.”
Collecting an award alongside Cllr Shaheen was former Bradford Lord Mayor, Cllr Joanne Dodds, who was named as the Metropolitan Borough Councillor of the Year.
Cllr Dodds has been a Great Horton Labour councillor for a decade.
During her time as Lord Mayor, she handled a packed schedule – which included abseiling, running a 10k race, trying her hand at pulling pints at a local brewery and raising more than £60,000 for her two charities.
Bradford Council leader, Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, praised both councillors for their ongoing work int he community.
She said: “I’m delighted for Joanne Dodds and Fozia Shaheen who fully deserve their national awards.
“Fozia is a talented young councillor and a quick learner who has won the respect of constituents and built up a strong reputation since she was elected.
“Joanne and Fozia are a credit to Bradford and I’m proud to have them on the team.”
The awards were presented at The Guildhall in London on Tuesday 1st November.
There were nearly 200 nominations overall at the seventh annual awards ceremony.