OBV alumni Atif Ali recognised in Queen's Birthday Honours


The Queen's birthday honours list often sees the headlines grabbed by the biggest sports stars and entertainers but as you'll know OBV looks to highlight the efforts of community champions and other under the radar campaigners and organisers.  

Enter Atif Ali.

Atif was on the 2020 Birmingham Civic Leadership Programme. He was covered on this very website no less than four months ago. On that occasion, it was to mark his appointment as School Governor for Fox Hollies Special School (if you read the article, you'll know why his appointment at this school was so important).

This time around, Atif has been recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours list for 'his incredible voluntary work delivering essential supplies to families in need in Birmingham during the pandemic'.

Speaking to Atif after the news was confirmed, he was clearly surprised. Initially, he seemed taken aback and unsure of how to react or what this would mean not only for himself but also for his father and brother, his sources of inspiration. Undoubtedly though, there was a sense of pride, and he was confident that this would serve as motivation for other young people fighting for their respective causes in Birmingham. It may not have been the reward Atif had been searched for from his activism, but he received it with great honour all the same.

His recognition is well-deserved and besides the pandemic, it follows on from previous community work documented elsewhere. Understandably for Atif and his loved ones, this is renewed cause to celebrate. How many people go through life serving important causes and doing important work without ever receiving recognition for their labour?

You will know of many, some may be in your household, they may even be reading this right now. That's why merit of the kind Atif is receiving is so good-natured, because while not always the case, efforts to uplift, amplify, and support social causes are frequently undertaken from a place of overwhelming conviction. In short, it feels genuine, which is why we're so happy when the good get theirs in full. 

More often than not, when people choose to fight for their respective causes they do so because they are driven to shape the change they want to see - no matter how small. This is true whether fighting for racial equality and black liberation, the safety, wellbeing and provisions for the homeless, environmental causes or any other matter we give our heart to.

It is clear that fairer political representation, as well as support for those with mental and physical disabilities, are important to Atif. They have been, and we're sure they will continue to be, even after his latest recognition, because as heralded as it may be (and we hope he celebrates all the applause coming his way to the fullest) his life's work up until this point is no more valuable today than it was this time last week. In his household and his community, Atif will have been considered a champion long ago.

There are very legitimate questions to be asked concerning the merits of the British honours system, and what it entails. To ignore this fact would be to sidestep a fairly important part of the reward itself. It's a debate which has been resumed this week and even OBV CEO Lord Woolley has had his say on the matter in the past - but this is a celebration of Atif, and one can only be glad that more attention has been brought to the work that he is doing in the West Midlands.

He is clearly ambitious, but we all believe that the issues which drive him to do what he does are rooted in humility and the betterment of society. We hope that this, as well as his surroundings, ensure that he continues changing the world in his own way and achieving great things.

Atif Ali: "I'm motivated by a sense of duty and a desire to serve others, for it is in giving that we receive."



A call to action...

For nearly 25 years OBV have fought to ensure Black and minority ethnic participation and representation in civic society. Efforts in continuing to do so though, relies on your help. That way we can continue this fight for greater race equality. What would give us a tremendous boost is if today, you made that small donation yourselves, but even more importantly if you encouraged others to do likewise.