Master Mohammed Sharif

Mohammed had been employed as a government teacher working at Bewal School Rawalpindi for five years before deciding to come to the UK, to join some family members with the intention of improving his financial situation and lifestyle. On 9th June 196, Mohammed boarded a plane in Karachi for London Heathrow and from there travelled by coach to Leeds and then took a taxi for the ten mile journey to Batley West Yorkshire arriving at 163 Taylor Street where a friend resided and would become his new home in the UK.

Mohammed stayed in Batley for 6 years finding work in a textile mill earning a salary of £8.00 for a 42 hour week. He had no problem communicating in the workplace as he spoke and wrote excellent English and used to help his non English speaking colleagues acting as an unpaid translator. Mohammed moved to Birmingham via Stoke in October 1969 looking for work, as family members were already living and working there. On arrival in Birmingham he managed to find work at a factory on Bordesley Green Road called Mater Axe where he worked for 6 months before moving to British Telecom where he worked for 17 years before retiring.

Mohammed shared his friend’s house in Birmingham with 29 other people who used to look after and cook for themselves. He remembers being able to buy Halal meat from a local shop, as well as getting groceries delivered from a shop in College Road every week; the owners being fellow villagers from Pakistan. Mohammed with other tenants sharing the cost bought a TV for the house in 1965 so that they could keep up with the news, and later watching programmes such as Nai Zindagi Naye Jeevan (BBC – New Life).

Mohammed’s cousin died in Bradford and in response established a death committee to help with the costs of sending his body back to Pakistan for burial; with the service still supporting members of the community to this very day. Mohammed recalls that there were many English people living in Alum Rock at the time who began to move out as the Asian community began to grow in numbers believing that they moved out because of the number of men sharing nowadays the houses, which he thought made them feel uncomfortable.

Mohammed since retiring has spent his time helping to support his community in Birmingham as well as Pakistan, arranging water wells to be dug in the villages back home as well as contributing money for local schools. He has also got involved in politics and was a Governor at a local school, as well as working as a volunteer at a local community radio station.  Five years ago Mohammed was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, although this has not stopped him continuing with his political activities and love of sport, commenting that “Cricketers of today are not as good as they used to be”

Mohammed recalls  that when he first came to the UK he only ever intended to stay for four years before returning to Pakistan and continue his teaching career; that he didn’t return, would suggest on reflection that the UK had treated him and his family well, all his children getting good jobs, having all been educated in the UK. He feels that his success has been down to him being a loyal hard worker who earned the “trust of his employers and colleagues within the workplace”. Mohammed goes on to state that he or his family will never return to Pakistan reflecting “our children’s generation cannot live in Pakistan, the government has messed it all up, there are no jobs poor education and health care  the people just want money, money, money at all times, nobody is genuine they are all out for themselves.”