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Celebrating South Asian Heritage Month

As we reach the halfway point of the UK's first South Asian Heritage Month, consultant psychiatrist and interim learning disability services division medical director Hassan Mahmood reflects on what this opportunity to celebrate means to him.

“I think South Asian Heritage Month is a great idea. So many people from the South Asian diaspora have contributed towards the economy, culture and all-round way of life of the UK and particularly Birmingham. In many cases, that involved a lot of hard work and sacrifices.

 “My parents came from Pakistan in the 1960s. My dad worked for around 40 years as a bus driver until he retired.  My mum was a lunchtime supervisor at a primary school for many years.

“I’m the youngest of four children and the opportunities I have had with my career are entirely down to the sacrifices my parents made in order to ensure each of us had a good education.

Hassan Mahmood
CELEBRATION: Hassan receives an award from learning disabilities divisional director Zelda Peters at an event to mark the 100th anniversary of learning disability nursing.

“As a born-and-bred Brummie, I love that my city is so multicultural. I grew up in a predominantly Asian area. I went to school with other kids from a very wide variety of ethnic backgrounds. It meant I absorbed a lot about other people’s cultures, which was wonderful.

“Growing up in Birmingham allowed me to embrace that diversity while feeling it was completely natural.  I appreciate the wide variety of cultures and the festivals that people celebrate.  Of course, sport is a huge passion of mine and I am a cricket fanatic as are many people from the South Asian diaspora.

“My parents thought the way we were growing up gave us a good balance between our Pakistani heritage and our life in England – literally the best of both worlds, learning from everything.

“People often point out the differences between cultures and, for sure, that diversity and richness around the world is something to celebrate. But I also think, having grown up in a very multicultural environment, there are increased overlapping of influences.  The scenes on Ladypool Road on a Friday night are a very good example!

“I am really proud of my British, Brummie and Pakistani identities and will be celebrating my South Asian heritage this month.”