Birmingham is the most ethnically-diverse city in Britain, with more than a third of the population identifying themselves as non-white. (This is higher than London, Manchester, Bradford, Leeds and Dewsbury.) Cllr. Rashid is of Kashmiri heritage, and will be the first Lord Mayor to make an official visit to the Indian sub-continent in six years.
The Lord Mayor commented: “Birmingham is the UK’s Second City. However, we are first in terms of diversity. I’m proud to represent such a culturally-diverse population, which serves as a model of community cohesion for other parts of the country. Hundreds of thousands of our citizens have a connection to the Indian sub-continent. I think it’s important for me, as a representative of those citizens, to promote Birmingham to their countries of cultural origin.”
He continues: “I believe that my official visit to Pakistan and Bangladesh will be an opportunity to raise international awareness of the social, cultural and economic contribution that has been made by Pakistani, Indian and Bangladeshi immigrants to the UK as a whole. The message I will take with me is that Birmingham is a great place to live. We also want to encourage people from around the world to visit us, and for foreign businesses to invest in the profitable opportunities Birmingham has to offer.”
Baron Bhatti of Ballencrieff, a lifelong resident of Birmingham, is just one prominent citizen who supports The Lord Mayor’s work. He explains: “I’m very proud that Chauhdry Rashid, who has served as my local Councillor for more than 20 years, has been given the honour of representing our fair City to the wider world. His planned tour of the Indian sub-continent is a wonderful show of respect to communities that have been integral to Birmingham’s economic success. And I’m sure that he will be welcomed with open arms by the residents of Sylhet, Dhaka, The Punjab and Azad Kashmir.”
The Lord Mayor is also planning official visits to India and the West Indies, in recognition of the cultural connection many Brummies have with those regions. Birmingham has a large Afro-Caribbean community in excess of 50,000.
About The Lord Mayor
Councillor Chauhdry Abdul Rashid hails from Dadyal in the Pakistani province of Azad Kashmir. He left school at the age of 13 and emigrated to the Lake District town of Workington, where he lived for eight years. Cllr. Rashid moved to Birmingham in 1963, and has been active in the City’s social, cultural and educational development for more than 45 years.
The Lord Mayor believes passionately in the value of education and, despite the scholarly disadvantage he suffered, he has continually strengthened his academic credentials since his arrival in the UK, eventually achieving a Bachelors in Social Science from Wolverhampton University (in 1987).
The Lord Mayor has served as Governor at many local schools and colleges. Today he is honoured to serve as Chancellor of Birmingham City University.
In 1962, Cllr. Rashid married Shafait Begum, his wife of over 45 years, who is First Lady of the City of Birmingham, in her official capacity as Lady Mayoress. She has supported The Lord Mayor’s work for almost half a century, during which time he has strived to improve the lives of Birmingham’s residents.
Further information about The Lord Mayor of Birmingham is available at www.lordmayor.org.
Birmingham is the UK’s second largest city, with a population of more than 1.5 million people. Due in part to its inland central location, Birmingham is a major transport hub on the UK’s motorway, rail, and canal networks. The city is often referred to as “The Heart of England”.
Birmingham’s Conservative-led City Council is the largest local authority in the UK, and the largest government council in Europe. The city has 120 councillors representing 40 wards, and is represented in Parliament by 11 MPs.
Birmingham has made a valuable contribution to Britain’s political, economic and cultural history. Famous residents have included Neville Chamberlain (former Prime Minister), JRR Tolkien (author of Lord of The Rings), WH Auden (poet), Barbara Cartland (novelist), Tony Hancock (comedian) and Arthur Conan Doyle (creator of Sherlock Holmes).
Birmingham is home to the Cadbury’s chocolate factory, the world-famous Bull Ring shopping complex, and the International Convention Centre (ICC) which will play host to the 2008 Conservative Party Conference.