OBV Profile: Yousuf Miah

Since June 2003 Miah has been a councillor for Ecton Brook Ward, Northampton. Having lived in the area for 20 years he has seen many changes and has become a highly active participant in the community.

Miah's concern for his ward proves to be his passion. Although he is the owner of a consultancy firm, he runs a mentoring project for youngsters and he is currently working on a nationwide scheme to generate young leaders between the ages 16 and 25-year-olds.

Some of his other responsibilities include being chair of the Northamptonshire Muslim Council, Chair of Governors at two local schools, founding member of the Bangladeshi Association and the Gateway Centre which is home to over 12 ethnic minority organisations in the area.

He says: "I also run an orphanage in Bangladesh. One day I want to make that my full time commitment to helping the poor and destitute wherever they may be."

Miah, 29, was born in Bangladesh and came to England before his eleventh birthday. Recalling his arrival to England he said: "When I came here it was literally freezing, there was a good meter worth of snow. It was a shock to the system coming from a country where it was 40 degrees to the other extreme."

In Northampton, where less than one per cent of the population is a minority ethnic, Miah says he experienced difficulties growing up in a predominately white area. Namely not being able to speak English but also being the second non-white family on an estate where he was attacked because of it.

He beat off these challenges and in 1999 he completed a Public Administration in Politics degree at Leicester University and in 2004 he completed a MBA in marketing.

Realising he needed the flexibility in politics he ended his work in community development and started the consulting company, MiahMcmahon. The company of six promotes regeneration and training in the community where each staff member caters within their own speciality.

In 2001 he stood in his first local election which he says was a time that he was "very energetic and enthusiastic" and wanted to do everything to take in the full experience.

Although he was unsuccessful he later celebrated winning Ecton Brook Ward in 2003. Alongside this role he sits as a cabinet member for housing and for three years served as the Conservative council chairman, overseeing many of the party's affairs in the council.

As the only minority councillor in the county he says he finds himself championing the minority cause from many fronts and believes that it allows him to relate better to minorities and their specific issues.

Inspired by his late father, whom he had many political and social discussions with; he explains why he wanted to become a politician: "For me, it was a case of growing up in hardship and in difficult circumstances. I always had a lot to say and I wanted to ask questions" he says.

Miah, who married earlier this year, participated in the first OBV MP Shadowing Scheme in 1999. He shadowed Baroness Joyce Annely and Richard Ottaway.

Describing the experience he adds: "I feel indebted to everyone at OBV for giving me the chance to see politics at first hand. They drove me and inspired me to take a lead and I want to pass that experience on to others."

For the future he hopes to further establish his business, political career; and continue to inspire others to become politicians and community leaders.

He says: "Above all, I want to maintain my strong links with the communities and help them develop and play a leading part in the politics and life of our town. People need to feel that they belong and when they do, they take responsibility and commit themselves."