Mr Mohammed Yasin (MBE)






Mohammed gained his matriculation whilst studying in Pakistan before deciding that he wanted to go to the UK. His father was working in the UK and was sending him money for his studies but he decided to use the money to get a passport which he needed in order to travel to the UK.  A relative advised him not to use an agent but to go direct to the Passport Office, saying it will be easier; it took him a few months to obtain the passport and in 1960 when he was 18 years old he set off for London via Paris.

His cousin who was already in England had told him that when he lands London Heathrow  he should make his way to Paddington Station, and get the train to Birmingham. Mohammed took a black cab from Heathrow and on arriving at Paddington bought a ticket for the train journey to Birmingham; he remembers the people at the station were very helpful and friendly making sure he got the right train, a few hours later arriving in Birmingham, on arrival taking a taxi to his cousin’s house.

Mohammed was very lucky as his cousin whose house he was living at, did all the cooking and all his washing allowing him time to look for work. In 1967 his wife joined him and he bought a house which he still lives in for £2,100. At that time he remembers there were only three cars in the street now he says there are three cars in every household. Mohammed raised and educated all his children in Birmingham realising the importance of them getting a sound education. Mohammed regularly worked a 72 hour week, but in his spare time he used to enjoy visiting the cinema and watching wrestling.

When Mohammed first arrived in Birmingham there was no Mosque in the area, so those who wanted to pray, used the hall in a local Catholic school. This was not a satisfactory situation and one day the issue came to a head, when one man before praying hung his coat on a statue of Jesus forgetting to take it with him when prayers were finished. This caused offence and the priest said they could no longer use the hall, making them realise they needed a Mosque of their own. Mohammed and three others decided to arrange a meeting with the local Muslim community to discuss ways of getting a Mosque. A committee was set up and £500 collected which was the starting point for the building of a new Mosque. With the help of the community Muslim and non Muslim money was raised and in 1992 the Zia Ul Quran Mosque was completed at a cost of £12,000. Mohammed who had been a committee member throughout the project became a trustee for life, but resigned from the management committee.

Mohammed managed to get a job working at British Motors where he stayed for 19 years, until he volunteered for redundancy using the money to set up his own business in Telford a town 30 miles from Birmingham. He ran the business for four years before returning to Pakistan staying there for 7 months before returning to Birmingham to look for work. He found work difficult to get; even though he had lots of experience, he continued to be turned down in favour of other candidates. He became very downhearted at his lack of success and decided to change direction looking for a new career.

In his spare time Mohammed was playing and coaching volleyball to quite a high standard and after initial problems finding places to play particularly in the winter his team started to play at Nechells Community Centre entering a league with some success. During this time Mohammed met and became friends with Richard Kaalighut, and as he was currently unemployed offered him a part time job working in the leisure department of Birmingham Council at £3 per hour. Mohammed accepted the job and set about gaining qualifications relevant to the leisure industry, gaining three new qualifications in six months. Mohammed then got a job at St Peters College, and offered to help coach the young people at volleyball, and also gained a youth work qualification leading to being offered a job for one year    fulltime Youth and Community Worker with Birmingham Council. He then went to college and gained a Diploma qualifying as a Youth and Community Worker, which led to him working at Naseby Youth Centre where he stayed for 17 years developing links with many organisations and other youth groups in the city and nationwide.

In the early 90s Mohammed was made Chairman of the Naseby Community group responsible for helping to implement a Government Taskforce Project which had been set up to increase the levels of employment in the area. It was agreed that the area needed a multi lingual job club and financial support was given to set up the centre at Ludlow Road Mosque  employing two people, to give advice and support  to local people helping them to find work; the project was very successful with many finding work. In 1993 Mohammed was awarded the Membership of the British Empire for service to the community, receiving his medal from Prince Charles, which made him feel very proud both for himself and his family, particularly his wife who had supported him throughout.

Mohammed feels that he has experienced some racism both at work and in his private life during his time spent in the UK taking all his experiences good and bad into account he his family and community have prospered since coming to the UK.

My dad was already here I went back to Pakistan in 1967 and my wife came here.  There was a lot more asian people in the area by that time and I bought my house on Edmund Road in 1967 for £2100 where I still live now there was only three cars here at the time.  Now there are three per household. All my children were born here.  I had a lot of family coming and going for a few weeks.

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In the early 90s the taskforce project was set up for more employment he was looking for links within the community he came to Naseby centre and said this is what I want to do.  He invited loads of people over and told me that I want you to set up this organisation so that the local community can benefit from it everybody agreed.  Next meeting they chose me for a chairperson they asked me for my ideas.  I said we needed a mutli lingual training centre he agreed and gave us 2 workers and running costs.  We set upa multi lingual job club at Ludlow Road mosque we got a lot of people in jobs.  I also done a lot of sports and also youth work,  I helped City Council with various project.

In 1993 I got my MBE for community services I was shocked I was not expecting this at all.  I felt very proud when I went to Buckingham Palace. I was in Buckingham Palace I was addressed as Sir and felt very proud I never expected this.  Award was given by Prince Charles.  My son played his tape in the grounds I told him to stop it but he wanted to see the reaction a guard came over and said Sir turn it off my son laughed and said we are Sirs now.  There was 100 people in the hall people who received medals were in 1 room guests were in another room.  I was one of the last people to be called as my surname is Y, the guard said you have done a very good job as I helped a 74 year old man he couldn’t walk properly.  It was a big honour. The people made me I couldn’t do it on my own, my family, my community, my friends, my colleagues and especially my wife.  My wife has been very supportive through youth work I was impressed by 1 person I told him off he came back next day and gave me a letter he wrote people like you don’t care don’t know about us you aren’t bothered.  He came back after 2 years and was crying he said his father had died sister was having marriage problems he said you can help me I did.  Majid Mahmood councillor was a very naughty young lad.  Youth work is very important you can create an angel or a devil.  Youth work needs to carry on its very important.  I bought a new suit when I came from Pakistan.  It used to be very cold so you couldn’t wear shalwar kameez here anyway.  I worked 72 hours a week. Sunday was 8 – 4 and then at 6.00 o clock we used to go cinema to watch a film. In Aston and Mosely and Gooch street.  We wasn’t allowed to have a day off on Eid we was told we could pray but no day off.  We all used to watch wrestling on Saturday outcast I felt  part of the community.  We used the English funeral service at Mosely Road.

My children speak their own language and they know there roots but I feel we are going to loose our roots. Eventually it will happen.  15 – 20 years ago I used to discuss with my African friends that they have lost there roots I believe that is happening to us now.   When we go back to Pakistan we aren’t treated like a family member we are treated like strangers.  My parents have died the younger generation over there doesn’t know much about us.  Moneywise we might have gained but we have lost trust friendship sympathy and openness.  People say life is busy but we used to work 72 hours a week people today are just selfish.  I made loads of links through volleyball I loved sports.  Volleyball is a skill.  I was at Weymouth beach and 2 white men were trying to play Kabbadi they said we want to play but don’t know how I took there details and posted them the rules.

When I was at Westhill College we studied different types of racism.  They had a clerical assistant who was very rude everytime.  I have experienced a lot of racism throughout my life especially at the police station.  My first year work experience was with the Youth offending team and visited police stations a lot the police officer was friendly I told him if you are not here how would these people treat me he said I don’t know.  I said don’t come in front so I went in and said I have a meeting they said with who yet when he was with me they never asked anything.  When I was with social services they had a rule which was don’t park outside the house you are visiting.  My superviser was with me and he went in front of the house and parked right in front.  When we came out I said why did you park outside he said I don’t know this is also classified as racism.  The community support I had was very positive.  There was a man call George on Hazelbeach road he invited me to his Christmas party and told his neighbour to make me samosas.  He said my neighbour made them I said I came for you and not for samosa.  He was a very honest person.  I love this area its safe there is mosques, there is shopping area.  I am a labour party supporter I was asked in early 90s to stand for councillor I refused as you cant please everybody and I didn’t want a negative impact.

My cousin took a radio from here in the late 50s I took it out and people wanted me to bring it out all the time During ramadhan a lot of people carried on eating it wasn’t there fault there was no mosques,  people who did fast were given 10 minute breaks for Iftaari.

There was 3 halal shops one on Hams Road one on Wright Road and one near the 8 number bus stop a Bengali man used to sell livestock and asian grocery.

Every Saturday we used to watch wrestling but never anything else there was live wrestling on Monday afternoon at Walford Road Saif Ali Shah was very famous wrestler.  Mainly asian people used to watch it.

People were very nice they took us to places we couldn’t find.  We knew the road name but couldn’t pronounce it properly we asked a woman and she walked 500 ya When he arrive  It was foggy and dark which was totally different to what I was used to.  When I saw women in short dresses I was shocked it was a totally different culture. It was.  My dad came here in 1958.  I had four cousins here and lots of other relatives.  My mom sister and brother were in Pakistan.  My cousin came here in 1954 he had his own house and another cousin bought one opposite so we had 2 houses on the same road.  Four other houses belonged to Pakistani people.  There were about 2 cars on the whole road.  When I first came my father got ill I came in 24th January 1961 after a few days he went to see a doctor they sent him for x rays and he was sent to a TB doctor in Ramsley Hill which was 12 to 14 miles away near Worcestershire Stourbridge he was in hospital for 6 months.  When I came here I started looking for a job.  I got a job on 8th March 1961 at British Motors Drews Lane.

rds to take us there.  The only mosque for funerals was on speedwell road and there was funeral services on Mosely road run by English people if need that was the service used.