Tell us a little bit about your background?
I was born in Somalia and came to Sheffield when I was five. I never knew what I wanted to pursue as a career when I was young, but I knew I wanted to have a positive impact on those around me. I ended up taking a year out after school and worked in factories in Sheffield, before going to the University of Hull to study aquatic zoology. After that I set up a digital marketing business with two friends, it failed after a year and a bit and I ended up working for the charity Shelter.
How did you get involved in politics?
The rise of UKIP in 2014 made me want to get involved with politics. I was tired of complaining, and started to think about what I could do in my own community. I thought, if I could at least make Sheffield, my small part of the world, better and have a positive impact then that’s what I’d do. I joined the Green Party, as that’s where a lot of my values lie, and decided to stand on the council in 2016. In 2018 the Lord Mayor opportunity presented itself and in May that year I became the first Green MEP for Yorkshire which was obviously a massive privilege.
How did the role of mayor come about for you?
Ultimately it’s the council that elects you, but it felt like a great opportunity to champion all that’s great and good about Sheffield. I’d lie if I said there was no one who disagreed with what I said or what I was doing, some people didn’t agree with my existence in that world, but it was a privilege, so I made the most of it.
What are your plans now?
I’m actually starting a tour around Yorkshire and the Humber speaking to different organisations, and people to see what they want from the European Parliament. It’s going to have to come back down the people, it’s the only way past the deadlock. I’m just trying to use my platform to highlight and challenge issues.
What was your favourite thing about being the Mayor of Sheffield?
I met amazing people every single day and learned a lot about them. I felt like Santa Claus, people would always be really excited to see me, and that really motivated me to meet more people. I enjoyed surprising people, turning up to someone’s graduation, crashing house parties at New Year’s Eve, or inviting people around to watch Love Actually with me at Christmas. Normally you have a consort or a Lady Mayoress, but I didn’t have one, so I’d ask members of the public to be my consort for the day and pick them up to go for dinner, or an event. I tried to make them feel like Sheffield belonged to them as much as it belonged to me.
Favourite place to eat?
Jimmy’s Kitchen on West Street, it does great authentic Turkish food.
How would you spend a day off?
I’d probably get my friends into the car, drive to Bakewell and get a Bakewell pudding with custard, just for novelty value, then I guess we’d probably end up in West Street Live.
What did you have for breakfast?
A coconut and chocolate cake. It wasn’t a healthy one.
City of Gods.
What is something you couldn’t live without?
If I can’t say my family and friends, then pizza. And ice cream.