Former refugee Magid Magid takes up Sheffield Lord Mayor post

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A former refugee who has taken over as Sheffield’s Lord Mayor says he hopes to bring the role “into the 21st Century”.

Magid Magid, is the city’s first Somali mayor, first Green Party mayor, and, at 28, the youngest mayor.

He came to Sheffield aged five after six months in an Ethiopian refugee camp with his mother and five siblings who left Somalia “to find a better life”.

“Just me being in the post brings an element of difference to the role,” he said.

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He added: “I hope it will help engage those that have not previously engaged before.”

But his story is not a case of a privileged upbringing helping to open doors but of determination, ambition – and a love of climbing mountains.

Born in Burao in war-torn northern Somalia, Mr Magid said he did not remember much of his childhood and had never returned to his country of birth.

“I remember just being happy, playing around as you do as a kid, but in reality it was a completely different story,” he said.

His family set up home in Sheffield’s Burngreave area.

He said life was difficult when he and his family arrived, trying to learn the language and adapt to a new way of life.

His mother worked as a cleaner to look after her children, with Magid and his siblings acting as translators.

‘Mountain fascination’
He went to Fir Vale School where he said he was “just like your average child”.

By the time he was 17 he said his “massive fascination with mountains” had emerged.

“I really wanted to climb the seven summits, so I worked 12-hour shifts every day for nine weeks and paid to go on a mountaineering course in the Swiss Alps.

“When I was 19 I wanted to climb Kilimanjaro, so I packed what I needed, went to the local town and found someone to climb it with me.

“I guess that’s how I like to do things. I like to look for solutions to barriers, and being courageous and brave is part of being able to do that.”

From mountain tops to the bottoms of the ocean, Magid went on to study aquatic zoology at the University of Hull.

“I just really wanted to go to university,” he said.

“You are taking yourself out of your comfort zone and where else would you meet so many people from different parts of the world and experience such different things in one place. That’s what I wanted.”

He said he developed an interest in politics while at university and was elected as president of the students’ union,

He admits he was not “politically savvy” adding he “had no idea between the left and the right but I knew I cared about certain issues”.

In 2014 he delved further into politics, becoming a regular viewer of the BBC’s Daily Politics show, “I used to think, ‘who actually watched this?'” he said, “but there I was”.

Despite friends and family largely supporting Labour, he said he found the Green Party better represented his views and in 2016 he was elected as Green councillor for Broomhill and Sharrow Vale.

BBC